Before giving more details to today’s announcement - i.e. the fact that I’m joining SIGFOX as Head of Startup Relations - , let’s have a look to what happened before.
When I took this decision, something was really clear to me: my startup had to have the potential of becoming huge, or it couldn’t be at all, meaning that I really wanted to create something new, meaningful and impactful. No copy of an exciting business existing in another country, no “secure” business model, Cookening was/is a pure new concept (That doesn’t mean of course that we were the only ones, since we had soon to realize others had the same idea, and a very close execution).
Being an entrepreneur has always been for me a way to have the biggest impact, to bring something new to the world. Of course it’s also the liberty you have, the challenges you have to face, and let’s not be shy, the dream that you could get some nice money at some point, that makes it so exciting, but first and foremost, it’s about the impact you can have.
So what do you do when you realize that the startup you’ve created, despite being loved and praised by your users, and even by the ecosystem, cannot have such an impact, cannot become big for the moment? That’s the reality check we had to make recently for Cookening. We have a wonderful community of hosts and guests, they love the service and experience we offer them to have. Each meal is a success and hosts and guests really love what they’ve just experienced. But the market is still at its early beginning, it remains small for the moment. We firmly believe the market will grow, but it needs a lot of evangelization, and for such, you need either time, a lot of money, or someone else well established entering the market. Money is an option we didn’t manage to have (Cf this slideshare where I explain our own mistakes, but recent events such as our main competitor raising from tier 1 VC in the US proves me that the French market is perhaps not well adapted to B2C projects where there’s a bet on a potential market and lots of evangelization to do). Without money (meaning a lot, not just 300k which are useless for evangelization), our best option is to wait.
A few months ago then, we decided to stop focusing 100% of our time on Cookening, and let us the time to see how the market would evolve. Airbnb announcing they’re testing meals, rumors of a big round for a competitor (rumors now confirmed) are good signs someone else will/could spend the money to evangelize the market for all of us. Julien and I kept working on Cookening (mainly internal or external communication needs, no product anymore) and we were happy to see that more and more hosts would join us, and meals keep being regularly organized in France and in our other countries (We have 300 hosts in 30 countries). Beside Cookening, I divided by time between some consulting (had the chance to work on wonderful projects with Airbnb, HelloBank, La French Tech, Danone) and tech event organizations (French Tech Club @ SXSW, Startup Assembly, OuiShareFest, La French Touch Conference). But Freelancing and consulting is not really my thing, I’m a startup guy, so it couldn’t last long.
I knew that if I had to join a startup as an employee, it had to be the most ambitious and challenging one of all. When you’re an entrepreneur, the only reason to join another company as an employee, is when this one can provide you with an environment, with a mission, with a challenge that you cannot get on your own. And this is why I’m joining SIGFOX today.
As usual, everything started with a random conversation with SIGFOX CEO, Ludovic Le Moan, during which I explained him even if SIGFOX was already on a way to be a massive success, something was missing to me: the fact that SIGFOX wasn’t really a platform for developers, entrepreneurs, with an ecosystem around it (startups that have huge impacts are the ones that generally become platforms think Facebook - Twitter - Salesforce - Paypal - Amazon). Ludovic’s answer was then simple “you’re right, but I need entrepreneurs in house for such things, come join us." And that was pretty much it. ;)
SIGFOX is the most exciting startup I have met in the past years, not only because I’m joining of course, not only because it’s French and born in Toulouse, not only because Ludovic is the one that “found me” a few years ago and trusted me him and Marc Rougier to become first employee for Goojet/Scoop.it, but because SIGFOX has the potential to become a leading platform for the future of our industry, for the Internet of Things. The cellular network it has created can enable completely new objects to communicate, can create new possibilities for innovators and entrepreneurs, it is a real break through innovation. And here, we’re not talking about the latest trendy mobile app or niche social network, we’re talking about services and objects than can really change our lives. How to say no to an adventure that can have such a big impact? I couldn’t. ;)
Starting today (ok, in reality I started last week) I’ll be Head of Startup Relations at SIGFOX, meaning that my job will be to help all hackers, developers, entrepreneurs that want to launch new objects and services on top of our network. I want to meet all #IoT startups in the world, and see if SIGFOX is of interest for them, and how I can help them. SIGFOX is born in France but is on its way to become a worldwide leader, so I’ll be in charge to connect with startup ecosystems all over the world, and that makes the mission even more exciting.
And for those of you wondering, yes Cookening will continue, slowly but surely as we say in French, waiting for the market to grow. We’re creating awesome moments and connections, one meal at the time. Perhaps meals are not numerous enough to build a rich company, but each one is enough to have an impact for its participants, and that’s a wonderful reason to keep it going. Also, I’ll keep a few activities on the side, as I’m still a #FrenchTech ambassador, so let’s meet at SXSW at our French Tech Club in March 2015, at La French Touch Conference in june 2015, or in December in Paris for my last LeWeb as co-organizer. I’ll be based in Paris, but with regular travels to Toulouse and countries where we have or will have soon our network (Spain - Holland - UK - US).
Entrepreneur is about entreprendre, as an employee or a founder, it doesn’t matter, what does matter is what you create.
Update: Techcrunch article about Sigfox and our new objective to better target startups http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/23/sigfox-aims-to-simplify-access-to-its-network-for-connected-objects-hires-cedric-giorgi/