Bruno Martinaud has just released the new edition of his manual for the perfect startuper: "start-up, precise for those who want to change the world ... and sometimes succeed! ». A very practical and comprehensive guide to everything that awaits the startup entrepreneur on his steep road to (rare) success. Advice, ideas, but also a recommendation in the form of an injunction: "May the force be with you! ». And it will take strength to overcome all the obstacles on this modern fighter's path. Some, who thought they were daring, will find themselves discouraged, while others, unconscious or enlightened, will embark on the adventure.
L’The author knows the world of start-ups inside out, so his advice is drawn from the cauldron of experience and careful observation of this bubbling ecosystem.
From the outset, Bruno Martinaud warns the candidates for the succession of Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Jeff Bezos: we must learn to manage uncertainty and, above all, play down failure. Because there is such a thing as failure. And in numbers. Getting a startup to take off and become a "unicorn", that is, a billion-dollar company, is not only the result of a long struggle, but above all of a good dose of recklessness. The Grail is promised to a few chosen ones, barely one per hundred thousand, with a lot of talent, but also a lot of luck. The encouragement of our policies, the multiplication of accelerators, boosters and other incubators will not do anything about it. There is one success (and still...) for every hundred thousand failures. A probability worthy of the Euromillions.
A matter of culture
In France, the startup ecosystem is one of the most stimulated and stimulating in the world. And yet, there is no Google, Amazon or French Tesla. You can hardly count a few unicorns on the fingers of one hand. The Silicon Valley model crushes all the others and remains unrivalled. Bruno Martinaud explains this lack of success of French startups compared to their American counterparts for at least two reasons. Firstly, the valorisation of research. It's a question of culture. In the United States, a researcher cannot imagine conducting his work without having a startup ready to go as soon as his invention can be valorized. In France, researchers search, sometimes and even often find, but let their inventions live their lives, i.e. essentially become the subject of a scientific article and sometimes a patent. Entrepreneurial spirit is extremely rare among our researchers. Consequently, innovations that could be masterful if they were to reach the market remain at the experimental stage.
The second reason is funding. This is a recurring subject of debate, but France has made enormous progress in this area in the space of a few years. Its network of investors and venture capitalists is dense, very professional, and should not make us blush, even if the gaps with the United States are still considerable. So, what's going on? Why are startups struggling so hard to achieve success? It has to do with the way they are financed. early stage "...that is, in the beginnings of a society. In the United States, Business Angels play a leading role in this type of financing. They invest in thousands of businesses, relatively small amounts, to allow entrepreneurs to demonstrate the feasibility of their idea. Only then, when the project is well under way, venture capitalists take over to help the startup take off. In France, it's quite the opposite. The fabric of the Business Angels is much weaker and they don't always play the seed game. Venture capitalists are therefore solicited from the very beginning of a company and sometimes pay a high price for their audacity. The French BA's do not play an essential role: that of first filter to distinguish and seed good ideas.
But the problem of financing, which is often put forward, is not the only reason. Becoming a startup requires qualities that are not given to everyone.
Psychology of the startuper
Bruno Martinaud unveils what could be a kind of startup psychology. Right away he announces the colour: the successful entrepreneur is the one who will know how to accept and manage his... schizophrenia. On the one hand, he must be able to think he is right, alone against all, and on the other hand, he must spend his time being wrong. It's an uncomfortable situation, but it's very real.
Indeed, the startup entrepreneur believes in his idea, that's the minimum we ask of him. But he has to believe it against all odds. At the same time, he will experience the mistake. The idea he had at the beginning of the project will never be the one that will succeed. It will be necessary to advance by trial and error, to go back on certainties, to accept failures, to rebuild the whole project, to bounce back, to start again, again and again.
How do you live with schizophrenia like that? Many do not. So why do some succeed? Because, says the author, they are constantly reminded that creating an innovative company is not a rational act: " Success can only come from those who are naive enough to think unreasonably. Entrepreneurs must rise above convention and constraint to achieve the extraordinary. ".
Indeed, it takes a gut-wrenching faith, or total unconsciousness, to dare to embark on the startup's journey. « Developing an innovative project writes the authorThe road is actually quite similar to trying to drive at night, on a mountain road, in icy weather and without lights. ». My goodness! What a program! The image is strong but it is quite realistic. What the author means is that a good idea is not enough to create a startup. You can't wake up one morning with an idea that you think is going to change the world. It's not enough. The real talent will be, starting from an interesting vision converted into an initial idea that never works, to build on the movement initiated, to test and learn along the way to make success emerge unexpectedly. The real life of a startup is to follow an experimental process of learning by doing, under resource constraints, to accept to make mistakes, to change one's mind, to question one's fundamentals.
The author rightly takes the example of James Dyson, the inventor of the famous vacuum cleaner, who agreed to develop 5128 different prototypes before achieving the success we know. Perseverance, tenacity and a sense of passing obstacles, whatever their size or height.
To complicate matters, the journey of the innovative entrepreneur takes place in a space and time that is not that of ordinary people. Time is short and everything has to move fast. This is also a condition for success. Therefore, Bruno Martinaud recommends that the entrepreneur should "...". act first and think second ». This is not the kind of advice that mothers give to their children or schools to their disciples. Yet, to succeed in his startup's adventure, it is a sine qua non. What that means is totally counterintuitive for most entrepreneurs: agreeing to take out a poorly crafted product and submit it to future customers rather than waiting to get the product of their dreams. It is better to propose a prototype, even imperfect, even with bugs, to face the reality of its use very quickly rather than to refine for months on end an ideal project that we will realize, after several months of work, that 90 % of what we worked on does not interest users.
Those who, despite these warnings, would still be interested in the adventure will find in this book a mine of information on the conduct of his startup project, from the construction of the business plan, to the pitch for investors, to the management of his teams, to the targeting of his market. If you scrupulously follow all this advice you may succeed in building a successful startup. But don't forget that the essential key to success is the creator's seed of madness. It's not given to everyone, and it can't be learned from books.