How it all started
I’ve been attracted to “non traditional” mentors for ever, instead of systematically having ex entrepreneurs / CEOs mentor new ones.
Sometimes it works great, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes it doesn’t :
- Business changes fast, you might have been a great marketing person 30 years ago. But are you still relevant ?
- Helping out is great, but giving lessons isn’t
- One of the big strengths of entrepreneurs is being naïve: tackling something with no preconceived ideas on how to solve the problem. You don’t always need someone telling you how (they think) things work
- People have changed, you don’t manage today like you managed in the 80s
For these reasons I’ve always looked out of the “business world” to find mentors. I’ve learned more in terms of management from my friend “Até” (Pierre Henri Chuet, Fighter Pilot) than from most of the veteran CEOs I’ve met.
So when I met Benjamin Kayser (previously 16 year pro rugby athlete, and hooker in the French national team) I was very excited :)
Without knowing it we were both investors in the same startup (Kolsquare) and he wanted to know more about the VC world, because a lot of the conversations in his MBA program at Oxford were about it.
The intro was made by the fantastic Quentin Bordage, CEO of Kolsquare, ex Rugbyman and now an ultra-trail runner … Quentin is one of the kindest CEOs I know, super intentional, hard working, smart, inspiring and absolutely “people first”.
I’m not a fan of sports in terms of watchtime (I don’t watch traditional TV at all) but I’m a great fan of Athletes. I admire everything about them, especially the ones in extreme or “dangerous” sports. It takes such a high level of dedication, resilience, altruism (when a team is involved). Exactly what I’d like to show my kids : Courage, Grit, Resilience, Selflessness.
Not only that, but I also quickly found out Ben was a Dad too (married to an English girl, like me!), obsessed with doing good for his kids’ future (like me), that he was incredibly kind and open-minded (much more than me), that he had travelled a lot (like me) and was passionate about understanding others and their cultures (even more than me), and had a natural ability to connect with others and build a warm natural bond with people (not at all like me)
He said two things that really stuck with me :
- “I want my Rugby career to come second or third in what I achieved in my life and the positive trace I leave behind me“
Considering the career he had, it really showed the level of ambition and determination he has.
- “The one thing I really focused on during the last years of my career is people and team dynamics, and it’s what I love most”
From there I got obsessed with having Ben in my team.
So I decided to build a team so I could have him in it :)
The idea was to do “sport-inspired VC”, with a mix of investors and Athletes in the team, and the ability to bring mindset and best practices from high level sports.
That’s how “The Ateam/ateam.win” was first mentionned in January 2020 and actually born in our mind in summer 2020 (which then became Olympact, and then Teampact.ventures).
At first he was politely open to it, which was enough for me, and then I fought hard to make it a reality and convince him to jump in the ship with me for good :
It took about a year to convince a few heavyweights to endorse the idea (many thanks to Jacques Vincent, Franck Riboud, Jacques Bungert, Philippe Hemard for their support at that stage) and to show Ben I was very serious about this, and would commit 100%.
And from there we became co-founders, and started building the rest of the team together.