Go Beyond's COO, Andre Delafontaine, is a fresh 2011 MoT graduate who was recently awarded the Graduate-elected prize recognizing the him with the strongest leadership skills.
'We congratulate Andre on this award and are proud to have him on our team' Go Beyond Team
Q: So tell us Andre you are a very active person in the start-up business and from our first encounter you were very keen on the MoT program, now that you have received your degree are you satisfied with your EMBA choice?
A: I started looking for the perfect MBA program in 2007 and I definitely spent more than the average time doing so: I had researched IMD, London Business School, INSEAD alongside programs in the US. As I was shifting my career from multinationals to startups and was already living in Switzerland, the MoT program seemed just right. I decided to sign-up after attending classes in both MoT and MCF as an auditor and interviewing numerous alumni.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional career and what led you to choosing the MoT program?
A: I’ve always had a passion for technology and people relations, performing my first paid consulting job at age 13, starting a printing company at age 20 (which sold 3 years later after billing 200’000 pages). After getting my degree in Electrical Engineering, I worked on projects for large organizations (European Space Agency, Landis & Gyr, Energie Ouest Suisse). At that point, I decided I needed international exposure, thus working for 5 ½ years in the US for Kudelski Group. Back in Switzerland, I discovered coaching entrepreneurs at Venture 2008 where I was swiftly promoted to juror and meeting a number of startups.
Q: So you are now the COO of GO BEYOND (www.go-beyond.biz), can you tell us a bit about this company, how you joined and how you are now using your recent schooling to perform in your role as COO?
A: After witnessing tremendous growth at both Kudelski (100 è 3500 employees over 14 years) and at their US client Echostar (350 è 15’000 employees over 5 years), I was missing the direct impact to the day to day business I was looking for. I had met Go Beyond’s founder Brigitte Baumann at Venture 2008, so when she advertised a COO position in a small company financing startups, I replied immediately. A couple of months and 220 candidatures later, my profile was selected and I was hired right before starting the MoT program. I would say that just about every MoT course was applied within days to my new job, from marketing to finance to change management to HR & People and Society. I can’t emphasize enough how much applying the new knowledge to the job has been important for my learning process.
Q: So what start-ups does GO BEYOND look at investing in?
A: Our criteria are explicated on our website. Basically, we apply 3 basic rules before even screening the companies:
round amounts & timing, company segment & geography.
•Next round amounts of CHF 200k to 2 million within 6-9 months.
•Company segment of technology, services, luxury & consumer goods, medtech and sustainability / impact. We don’t invest in biotech or pharma.
•Geographical base of the startup: we need to build a close relationship with the entrepreneur as we’re going to be working together for 5-7 years, therefore investing in companies based close to our investor groups, i.e. currently in Switzerland, France, UK and Italy.
Q: talk to us about the number of business plans you receive on a weekly basis.
A: We receive 1-3 new business plans per day, about half of which match the above criteria. We then screen these companies and have the most promising present in front of an investor group. If all goes well, we put the company on a roadshow so that over groups can co-invest.
Q: How does a company go through the due-diligence process with GO BEYOND?
A: Once the company has pitched, the group debates and, if the investors decide to move into Due Diligence, we spend 1-3 months combing through all relevant aspects from market potential, IP protection & freedom to operate, composition and experience of the team, etc.
Q: Can you tell us about some success investment stories you have?
A: One of our investments doing very well right now is Lemoptix (www.lemoptix.com), designers of the world smallest projector, 1.5 cubic centimeters. Lemoptix has a special place in my heart as I had coached the CTO Nicolas Abelé at Venture 2008 before the company was founded. We stayed in touch as I loved the idea and ended up personally investing. July last year, Lemoptix closed their 3rd round of financing for CHF 1.48 million out of which over CHF 1 million came from Go Beyond investors.
Q: Have you been in contact with start-ups created by MoT graduates?
I met Jeyran & Amir (MoT 2008) at Venture 2008 and joined the advisory board of their company DigiComCore (www.digicomcore.com). Amir & Jeyran were the first to introduce me to the MoT program.
Without mentioning specific names, I have been in contact with MoT founders of 4 companies and we have already gone through extensive Due Diligence with 2.
Lately, I’m also following a promising company called Quick-Lines of which Stefanos Konandreas is an advisor.
In conclusion, I strongly believe Business Angels should be given a much wider exposure in the program as I’ve seen a number of interesting ideas come out of MoT graduates. Business Angels are great means towards getting a business off the ground alongside being a quasi-necessary first step before raising VC money. Moreover, I know how well the program prepares for a truly thrilling entrepreneurial career…