Thibaud Elziere, co-founder @Fotolia and great Web Apps (@mailjet, @aircall, @mention…)

Thibaud Elziere is a fabulous french entrepreneur, he especially co-founded Fotolia (bought in 2014 by Adobe for 800 million dollars) as well as the startup studio Efounders which has performed Mailjet, Aircall, Mention, TextMaster or Front.

Thibaud makes us the pleasure to answer to some few questions!

Hi Thibaud, a few lines to tell us a bit more about your career?

I caught the entrepreneurship virus pretty early on – I never even worked as an employee. I decided to build Fotolia while I was still studying. After 4 years of building Fotolia, I built Zilok in 2008. 3 years later, in 2011, I met Quentin Nickmans to create eFounders. And it is what I’ve been working every single day since.

eFounders, what is it and how it works? If I have a great idea for a new SaaS app, can I contact you?

eFounders is a startup studio. Our process is to develop our business ideas inside our studio; once an idea is validated and falls under our building thesis, we “hire” two co-founders to develop the business with us and make it skyrocket. We build 3 to 4 SaaS startups a year. After 18 months, each startup becomes independent. So far, we have built 7 startups used my millions of businesses.
As a startup studio, we generate business idea internally. You can always contact me to talk about SaaS, I love it ; but it won’t become an eFounders startup! If you are an exceptional entrepreneur (business or tech), on the other hand, you are more than welcome to apply to become our co-founder.

In your opinion, what are the succes criteria for a start-up on a SaaS market?

1. The Market positioning. We believe in what we call the “Fortune 5 Million” market opportunity (as opposed to “Fortune 500”). Millions of companies that use your product, every day, and globally.

2. The team: in order to build a SaaS unicorn, you need a formidable founding team with both exceptional business and technical skills

3. A great mindset: to me, your startup mindset and culture should rely on resilience, ambition and a bit of craziness in order to succeed.

Can you give us THE metric to monitor when you have a SaaS software?

Definitely: Churn. Churn changes everything, it makes the difference between a pony and a unicorn. The cost of a huge churn, when your revenue is important, kills your business. And at the same time, the profit of a negative churn makes a very small business looks like the next unicorn.

Rather than an advice,  could you share with us a failure, regret?

About a failure: we recently shut down one of our apps, after a few weeks in beta. Although we were very fond of the team and the product, we had to face the truth: we did not find a product-market fit. It was necessary decision to make and we learned a lot from it, yet it was a hard one.

And if there is one thing to regret… maybe not having built Slack? 🙂

What are your 3 favorite SaaS apps? Excluding those from eFounders, of course 😉

Algolia: because they have a disruptive technology which is pretty rare for a SaaS solution (Disclaimer: I am an investor)

Slack (of course): because it completely changed the way we communicate within a company. And all the integrations and the endless possibilities make it an awesome product.

Workable: we like the team and the product at efounders – because we receive so many job applications every day, Workable has helped us streamline the process a lot.


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