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  • Linda Labidi

Foodle, Epsor, Ouihelp, Travel Planet... 4 fast-growing scale-ups

When a start-up takes everything in its stride and grows at exponential speed, there's a good chance it will become a scale-up. How do you keep the momentum going? Be a Boss spoke to these hyper-growth business leaders.

Michaël Ormancey, CEO of Foodles

Foodles offers companies connected fridges for their employees' lunches. Founded in 2014, seven years later it has completed a €31 million Series B. The aim? To open at least one country. "We chose the UK because it's one of the biggest economic areas in Europe where people take short breaks. It's a good fit with the Foodles market", says CEO Michaël Ormancey. However, things didn't go as smoothly as planned, with a gap developing between the French and British teams. "Our mistake was not to have prepared sufficiently in advance for this opening. What's more, we took it on as a side project, without sending a strong message to our French staff," recalls the boss. In England, we had a small team, and the three employees felt they were on their own, not involved in the Foodles adventure. Moving from a Franco-French company to an international one inevitably has an impact on the corporate culture. "We had to show all our staff that the international dimension was of fundamental importance to the future value of Foodles", Michaël Ormancey insists. So, every Friday, the CEO brings all his employees together to present all their projects. These meetings are held in English, to put an end to the isolation of British employees. And what about French employees who don't master the language of Shakespeare? Foodles offers them English lessons.

"We had to prove the importance of the international dimension" Michaël Ormancey

Betty Seroussi, CEO of My Travel Planet

Betty Seroussi founded My Travel Planet with her husband Tristan Dessain-Gelinet in 2014 to digitalise business travel. In its first year, the company achieved sales of €7 million. Five years later, it reached the €80 million mark. And it did so without raising any funds. "We said to ourselves that we would try to do without, despite our need for working capital. To do this, we approached the Natixis factor. In our sector, this was unusual. But it enabled us to make a lot of money. Then we turned our attention to the second costly area: human management. We chose to automate everything that could be automated and to make the most of our employees' expertise," says Betty Seroussi. It was a winning formula... Until the health crisis. A tourism company, My Travel Planet was affected. "I had no choice but to make people redundant. I went from 70 to 10 employees", the entrepreneur regrets. Far from being discouraged, she gradually rebuilt her business. Successfully, since My Travel Planet plans to achieve sales of 120 million euros by 2023! Today, my choices are my own," says Betty Seroussi proudly. "But one day I'll have to learn to say 'I'm opening up my capital'...".

"My choices are my own" Betty Seroussi

Victor Sebag, COO of Ouihelp

Since 2016, Ouihelp has been offering home help for people who are losing their independence. Like all human services companies, Ouihelp operates in a meaningful sector. Victor Sebag, co-founder and COO of Ouihelp, confirms: "Working conditions, employee training and the values we share with our staff are key issues. However, we need to reiterate what we've achieved, how far we've come and keep coming back to the company's mission. You have to live your values on a regular basis. Even if, at first, I was sceptical about the need for this exercise. All 400 of the scale-up's employees were involved in drafting the values. "The values should not be drawn up by the co-founders or the management committee from the top down", says Victor Sebag. He also believes that we need to be vigilant about middle management: "Thanks to internal promotion, many people have been managers for the first time. And some have found themselves in difficulty. Some practices weren't aligned, and some employees might not be in line with the company's values". To avoid new pitfalls, Ouihelp is working on a management charter. "We bring middle managers to head office in small groups to talk with the co-founders," explains Victor Sebag. Similarly, during annual interviews, each employee is assessed on the way in which he or she embodies the company's values.

"We're working on a management charter" Victor Sebag

Benjamin Pedrini, Managing Director of Epsor

Epsor, a fintech created in 2017, develops employee savings and retirement products for SMEs and large groups. To steer its business, it draws up regular roadmaps. "At the beginning of the year, we define the main priorities in terms of product," says Benjamin Pedrini, co-founder and CEO of Epsor. This roadmap is then broken down by quarter. That's the theory, because we also allow time for possible contingencies. This flexibility allows Epsor to carry out developments on unforeseen subjects. "As a growing company, we can work on a commercial project that remains hypothetical and does not modify the product roadmap. But as soon as this project materialises, it will have an impact that needs to be taken into account", continues Benjamin Pedrini. "Depending on the business challenges, you need to adapt the roadmap... and involve all 100 of the company's employees. And how do you do that? By trying to involve them as early as possible, by announcing possible changes of direction on a subject," replies the Managing Director. It's a question of building the adjustment plan together. Benjamin Pedrini assures us that this is linked to Epsor's corporate culture. "Our corporate culture is not top-down: we don't want to impose things, we want to create buy-in. And there's no question of simply displaying values on a wall! The 'fit' with the corporate culture needs to be assessed at the recruitment stage", says Benjamin Pedrini. According to him, the few recruitment errors encountered by Epsor were precisely due to a mismatch between the recruit and the corporate culture.

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