Step Two Advisors Managing Founder
HEC Paris MiF, International Finance
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be able to share with the students a little bit about my my background theme. The interesting part of that question is that where I am today is absolutely nowhere near what I was expecting to achieve when I was a student. But I did go through a regular process with a goal in mind, which was to work in, um, in something, um, technical or scientific. So my studies were and majored in mathematics and physics and then engineering civil engineering. So my initial goal from my college and engineering school was to get an engineering degree. But towards my education, I realized that I could apply my engineering knowledge to other jobs that potentially work, For example, um, higher paid jobs at the time. We're talking, you know, 20 years ago and banking seems seemed at the time, like a really great opportunity. Um, Teoh have a great career and a great life. So I've decided to do a second master's degree following the engineering graduation, and Onda applied it to finance spares finance specifically. And so I have a different background because I studied until I was maybe 25 years old. As a result, uh, I already made a switch during my studies, but then I was able to get a great job in my first year working at age 25 in a bank. So at that point, I was convinced I was going to do a whole career in finance and on, and I was going to start as analysts and then associate and then potentially VP director, etcetera. So that was my mind. E could have done that. So, um, I was, um, given a job as an analyst trader in a derivatives trading floor. And so my career started as a as an analyst trader on Ben. I went on and on and got a bit of luck with some of my superiors that either went to other companies or got fired. Different differences. But every time you get to accelerate your carrier that way. So I I got two of these opportunities in, like, less than three years. So I went from analyst to associate in one year and then from associate to VP in two years. So, um, it's not something that's very usual, but I was following my career path and I was in London at the time, aged 28. Vice President, um, and I was running a commodity desk, so it was a specifically energy crude oil, refined products, natural gas. Um, at that moment in my life, everything's fine. I'm gonna continue to work, become a director, maybe a managing director. In 5 10 years. Everything is still on track. I moved to New York City a promotion because the New York desk does not exist with the activities were doing in London. And my boss likes what I'm doing. He says, Would you go to New York and open that activity? So I go to New York and I open that desk and everything is still great. I'm continue to perform. I get to director level H 33. Everything's fine. However, at that time it's, Ah, 20 around 2012 especially in the U. S. It's a new country for me, and I'm from France originally, and I meet a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of people that are doing their own thing, and it's not. It was not developed that much just 10 years ago in Europe, and I mean now exposed to a new world where you can actually do something else then consulting and banking and medicine and and legal. You can actually do thousands of other things. Um, they might not give you 100 k job the first year, but they can provide you millions of dollars if you're into something like that. You know, with your own equity and building something also, it allows you flexibility and build your own company with your own values. So there's just a lot of things I didn't even think about. And so it starts growing on me. And for about two years, I'm surrounded with new friends in New York that are in that in that world, and I'm almost envious of them. Maybe I'm making more money today, but do I have the Am I happy? Do I have the flexibility of my hours? And I you know, So it really grown me so much that in 2014 I decided to take a year off, um, and decide if I wanted to continue in finance, which in another bank or in a hedge fund, continue to continue to grow my career there or explore something completely different and maybe more entrepreneurial and you know where this is going. I I chose that second, more risky route, and I didn't actually choose what I was going to do. I choose to be open to it. So it means I started talking to my friends a bit more about what they're doing instead of just high level dinner conversation. But what exactly are you doing? How is it going? Do you have employees? What are you selling? What are you So eventually those conversations lead to one that became a bit more rich, and mine had started a beverage company, and that beverage company was growing quite fast. They didn't have any partner. That was business or finance oriented. We had a chef, a creative. We had a marketing person, and that's that, Was it so it was working. But they lacked that business finance portion. Eventually, I started getting more involved in helping them During my Gap year and about 34 months into conversations and emails and meetings, they offered me to become a partner. I didn't have any other thoughts of what I would do, but I knew that. Why not starting food and beverage in the CPG consumer package. World entrepreneurial. Only 34 people. And the company had already some legs. It was It was Yeah, it was doing maybe half a million dollars in sales in, like, less than two years. So something there and I jumped into that. And that was in 2014. I became, therefore, now participant of the CPG world of the food and beverage industry. And I had to learn everything from scratch from 00 knowledge. How does the distribution work? Who are the retailers? What are the margins that are applied in the supply chain? How do you market a product? How do you sell online? How do you sell wholesale? Um, how do you manufacturer product? How do you just like the freight? All of that. How do you run a company of do you hire people that I had a little bit because I was hiring people in the bank. But that's really it. And the rest was and ease with numbers. But none of my engineering degree Or, you know, knowing models and financial models was not that helpful. So excuse me, eso I just I just went straight and just doing common sense things learn a lot work, you know, 12 14 hour days to get to the level of my new business partners. And two years later, we had tripled our revenue and we were in 1000 doors, Whole Foods, which is usually a holy Grail for natural products. And we were making a lot of product. Everything was great exception of one thing. We need to grow a company. We need money. And when you become big, quite fat, not even big. But when you grow fast, even if you small to twice a small, uh, you're going to start look needing capital. And even though I was the finance person, I just never knew how to apply finance to real life. What is working capital? I remember this from the books in finance class, but I never really applied it cash flow projections, all that stuff. And so we were a bit in a bad situation where we had a big, bigger business. But we realize we need $500,000 tomorrow or we can't continue to produce and fulfill the order. Something a little drastic. So when something drastic happens, you have to also make quick decisions and we made the following decision, one of my business partner said that he could put a bit more money in the business, but not so much to just burn it into marketing or report a store with, you know, demonstrations and things like that. We decided to scale back from our $1000 retail progressive because that's expensive to maintain. And since we were making the juices ourselves, we decided to open our production to other companies that would want to make juice but don't have the equipment. So we went from pure brand in retail to a brand in retail polar level. But with manufacturing at that point, I decided that I would way. Obviously, when you're an entrepreneur, you the first few years you don't pay yourself at all or very little it has. It has been two years, and now we had to really focus every dollar we had into that new turnaround situation. So my partners and I decided that only two of us would stay in the business to try to pivot with rejection of one of them, and another one would try to continue to find other sources of income, become a stay a partner, but not as active. That was me because I was the last one to join. I was the first one to to step out from the active role, and in 2016 I found it Steptoe advisers as a way to continue to be in that industry. Now I wasn't for I fell in love with the industry, so that's a given. I was just figuring out How can I bring value? What should I do? Should I create a new brand that's not smart, because I have my partners with the beverage. I don't wanna compete. I want to still help. But what did I learn in two years that could be helpful for other brands? And the answer was a ton of things. So instead of writing a book, I decided to create a consulting firm but focused on the early stage startups. And I realized that there was no one doing that because usually, consulting groups are looking for business from companies that are a bit more mature and they yes, and they can pay bigger. It's for services. And of course there's a degree of consultants. You can't hire McKinsey right away. But at the early early stage when you are doing a few 100,000 in revenue, you also have very, very humble budgets. And there's no one who wants to take your money to do a good job because it's not a lot. It's not enough. So I tried to crack that code and, um, created a company with affordable pricing toe help. Companies, even pre revenue, get the right things. The right ducks in a row. I launched their product in the food and beverage industry in parallel. I was still partner in the business, but as passive I was maybe, And I'm still That's the That's the kind of the conclusion on that story. Um, I became, uh, you know, passive partner and still this finance person, and I call and we call each other every week to see how things are going, and I still provide my advice. But I am now a silent partner since 2016 and in and since 2016 now I'm going to enter my fifth year as the founder of Steptoe Adviser, and I have about two people working for me and worked with over 40 companies. Oh, it's a quite a journey and the beverage company has gone from that turnaround pivot to become one of the leading co manufacturers in the Northeast for average is that we do on DSO we are maybe five times bigger than we were five years ago, thanks to that pivot and the credit goes all entirely to my two other partners that took on them to do that. Turnover turnover.

Can you walk us through your first few weeks, especially challenges, when you started working as a consultant? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
question. I immediately became from extremely busy with the beverage company working, you know, seven days a week, seven days a week, every day, obviously making products, selling it, talking to my partners. Suddenly it all stops one day, and I have nothing to do. And so I accept the idea of building this company. So really, I can walk you through the first few weeks I sat down in front of my computer. Actually, that's not correct. Instead of using the computer, I decided to use a piece of paper. It's a It's a very different exercise. When you're on a computer and you're you're distracted, you're doing research. It's not how you should start thinking about a business. You really need a piece of paper, and you have to really draw a line in the middle and look at pros and cons of your ideas. Or, if you're if you don't have an idea yet, start putting ideas on paper E don't know scientifically, but it certainly creates a different mechanism in the brain rather than just being on a screen, trying to look for things. It's totally different. You're by yourself, so you really go deep and searching to your intellect to get answers. So I remember very well this exercise. And then I started scratching out ideas, pros and cons and how I want to structure. Then I went to friends and I presented informally in 10 minutes to, ah, 10 people. What? I was thinking of doing no clue. And they say, Oh, yeah, that's great. Okay, you take it with a grain of salt and others that are reading that space might be more critical. And then you also take their advice. So I think that most probably the 1st 23 weeks then I had to find a lawyer and understand how to set up. But I had one from the beverage company, so I used the same uh, and that's where you start realizing, Okay, there's gonna be a cost to this. There is a minimum cost that you have to be ready to put to start any anything. It could be $250,000 if you want to create a product and go into manufacturing. But it could also be $10,000 if you want to do something more online, where you don't have as much inventory or maybe no inventory at all, like me. So I think I decided to invest $100,000 just for one year to figure out where I can take this. Um, and also I learned in my previous years and in school that you have to set goals and and some sort of expectation, and it can be financial. It can also be a timeline. Because if you start and things don't happen, you need to also say I failed. It's okay to feel I can do something else, but you have to set those goals. Otherwise you can you can go too deep. And what if I put another 100,000 and then you know you can Really? Yeah. So I had two goals. One was to, um generate a certain amount of revenue that could pay pay out what I'm spending. So maybe that $100,000 budget for one year or maybe two years. Can I get to the same amount of profits into in some way in some capacity? And the second one was in one year, 12 months. If I don't have clients, if I don't have some momentum, this I'm not going to continue. So 12 months and some sort of monetary goal. Okay, then I build my business plan. Okay. Where is the gap that I found in the market? Who are the companies that I know? I went after two years. I knew 50 or 60 brands that were my friends. Other entrepreneurs, they are bigger. Smaller. So what do they need that I can provide? And so I started writing a business plan. What services? Um I didn't even think about how much I can charge for them. I just wanted to see what is the scope. Okay. Yeah. And then the last piece was a website. It's the It's the only way. Still today, 10 years later, five years later, it's the best way to communicate before social media linked in Instagram etcetera. But how do I do? A website that's nice, clean. And so what I decided to do because I had time on my hands. I learned how to code instead of using squarespace, which was not as big as it is today, even though it only five years ago it was there. But it was not like the goat I went on. Go, Daddy, create the domain and then started doing some WordPress a za result. The website was not great. I learned how to do, you know, wordpress custom things. And so I at least I got an extra learning out of it. Uh, yeah, with YouTube, you had a lot of tutorials. Was great. The looking back. Very bad idea. Uh, squarespace templates. Keep it simple at the beginning. If you need a more developed website in the future, you can always hire developers for that. But, um, so instead of paying, you know, 34 $5000 for someone independent to help me out with graphic design. I just did it myself for $500 but the result was not great. Okay? I had my first website. I was playing with it. I was changing the colors, etcetera, and business cards. $100 or $200 of business cards. And then I was ready to go. So that took me maybe a month, month and a half to get all that. And then I started emailing all of my entrepreneurial friends and said, Do you need some help in finance in strategy? Um, and then eventually one said, Yes. I also went to trade shows, which were really big at the time. Now, obviously with Cove it all the trade shows across every industry have been canceled. But trade shows remained one of the main source of business development in a lot of industries. So at that time I went to one of the largest trade shows. I used to go there with the juice to represent the Juice Company. But now I went, and for the first time I went as as a consultant, which is not fun because you're the last person they want to see. They're doing a trade show for all the other reasons except meeting people. Tell them a service. But it's OK because I knew if I knew 50 companies well, I also knew 300 companies not so well. But like facetime. And so I was in the show, How you doing? And then eventually the conversation. My approach was not Hey, I'm a consultant was, Hey, I'm an entrepreneur. I have a brand, by the way, I can help you if you want, because I am. I am available And one show one hit. One person said. I actually need someone like you. Uh, but I would need you full time. Are you available? Full time now? Here's the problem. You have an opportunity. That is a full time job. But you already put your mind to something you're 23 month in for your baby. What do you do? So I found a way to do a hybrid. I was not gonna let go of something even if it was zero. It was still the boy I had to go through those 12 months. So I told I told this brand I will help you as a full time person, but as a consult. So we will figure out the numbers. The dog work for you, and I will charge you that. But I will remain a W nine if we have to be 10 99. If you have to be precise, but not on your payroll, and I will consider you as my first client. And if I have to take another client, it would be during weekends. It won't be during several hours. Do you have a deal? Deal. And I became, like the business development and finance person for an ice cream company. Uh, and I didn't have to look for any other jobs because I was going to. I was fairly compensated. That was the revenue for my startup, and I was learning from a new category. So getting knowledge on the frozen 10 degrees? Yeah, which is very important for for just as a consultant, you need more knowledge where you are the knowledge with clients. It's kind of interesting and long story short. This lasted a year and a half, after which the relationship ended. The brand was looking for someone else or for a different direction. I was back at Squirt is zero or one? Probably minus one. I just I just have income I have. I have revenue for a Steptoe Advisors. It's great. Now I have zero clients instantly. But I had more knowledge, and I went back this time on the path of business development, trade shows, emails talking to my colleagues. And then I got a first client for a short period of time. Another one, another one and after the second year. So my 1st 12 month was validated, right? I had money and a client east month, and I lost the client and then, after six months more. I was in my second year, and I did start getting clients by pushing and selling myself, even Mawr. Now I have frozen experience, beverage experience, and I think the third year was the one that really pivoted, and I suddenly about five clients one month and then in five and then just went snowball from there.

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools or services more than the others? Why?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
so it's gonna It's going to stay pretty simple in terms of technical technique city because, um, understanding how to do a good website is nice, but you can easily outsource for fairly affordable consultant to help you with you ex U Y. If you want to do a nice squarespace, it's really like you can have people from, you know, $30 an hour. They work for 10 20 hours. Cost you $500. You get a beautiful website. You didn't do anything but what is still kind of that Number one portal, and it needs to be nice and neat. Andi. It requires a little bit of health if you want to make sure everything is in the right place. But that's fairly expensive for communication. The Gmail Sweet works great. I currently have seven or eight emails because my clients give give me emails of their company and it's all under Gmail. I find it more user friendly than Microsoft Office 3 65. But that's kind of the environment is female, and then Google drive for storage is not bad. The dropbox as kind of better features eso dropbox, where you can share with your clients secured folders and they sync with your own laptop. That seems to be kind of the go to, um, and then in terms of, um, communication. I would also add that everybody knows this now. Zoom versus Google meet Zuma is probably a bit more professional, but this is becoming the norm. I have about five or six zooms a day until we can finally go back into meeting rooms. But that's really the extent of the technology I use. Uh, and the rest is Excel spreadsheets and word documents and pdf's and and having a doctor a software to sign documents because you do a lot of contracts with a lot of signature, pretty much my world right now.

What are the profiles of your clients? What kind of projects do you handle? What skills are needed in these projects?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
my clients are anywhere from pre revenue. So a young young or old entrepreneur that has an idea that there's no age limit and there's no there's no reason to to start late, either. Um, they want to create a beverage. They want to create a snack. They want to create a sauce. Um, but they just don't know exactly. They know a few things, but they don't want to do, but they don't know how to execute. So Step two can come in and help at a affordable price. Prepare a business plan and a strategy and also kind of forecast how much money is going to be needed and how to do it. What are the right distributors? The right manufacturers? Etcetera. Um, that's kind of the earlier stage companies that we help. That doesn't provide the most amount of revenue because it's usually short term and with the companies that can afford the least. So it's usually 123 months and a few $1000 a month. But it gives them that that that start in the best, the best situation to start then and by the way, what I'm describing now. It took years to get to something that you can be buckets. But before it was all over the place. Now we have these early stage startups pre revenue, then we have companies anywhere between half a million and five million in sales, and they are a different levels. But they have a product. They have a team they are selling in a few 1000 stores, sometimes online, and what they need is, um, sometimes fundraising support. While I gave you an example of how bad I was in the first year, we didn't know what to do and when to do it. I got a lot better. So it's, uh, finding the right language and the right investors that will will like your product and you will like them and getting the good terms for the financing rounds. If people are not familiar listening to this start ups, they need to get funded. It's really hard to profitable, especially in the food and beverage industry, because there's inventory and a lot off distribution people to pay. But so I'm just summarizing. But anyway, so we are helping with fundraising in the sense that we do investor decks, we prepare presentations and we do financial models, which are spreadsheets that forecast her business from 15 years. And that combination of those two documents, plus the talent of the entrepreneurs and the team, should convince people to give them money. Yes. Now, once they have money, the third bucket is fractional CFO. Most of those startups that don't need to hire a 200,000 or 250,000 year director of finance or CFO because still not, you know, 15 20 million, maybe 50 million revenue. But they need financial help. So they have a bookkeeper. They maybe have a controller that helps kind of analyze the data, but they don't want to pay 200 K for that internal full time position. So we come in at a much lower cost, and we run all of these different task. That a CFO Exactly. And so that's the three types of projects I handle. The skills needed in the projects are, I mean, all around finance, but at different degrees. Obviously, um, if you don't have investors, there's no investor relations, so your your finance job is really to look at the books with the bookkeeper, make sure every month it's reconciled, and it makes sense and alert the brands when there are problems. So that's kind of accounting a little bit. Red flags mis categorization margin decrease, revenue decrease or increase operating costs. Are they under control? Are they going down, etcetera? Um, so, yeah. I mean, there's a lot of other skills that go into it, including strategy and market knowledge. So people come to me and ask what is expected of my beverage for from a retailer. Do they expect me to sell one bottle per week or 10 or 100 so we also provide the right strategy market knowledge that we have.

How do you reach out to potential clients? What are the roles of people you reach out to? What are their typical concerns and how do you address them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
in the past, trade shows where a great way to see people shake hands, but in theory, it seems like the right place to make to do business. But I said that the consultant is the last person they want to see. I found that going to trade shows is great for your brand as a consultant or anyone, but it's not so much helpful to do business between consultants and brands because they're here to sell in retail. They're looking for buyers the best way for me to get business, And I mean in an empirical way, What happened to me was that the referrals were the most powerful things to get business, and the referrals have to come from somewhere. They come from past clients, or they come from MAWR established service providers that do not do what you do packaging agency, digital agency, law firms, accounting firms And when they see a client and they look at their books or they hear them talk about their pain points, if one of them is running my finance or fundraising and they know me and they trust my work, then oh, you should talk to step to advise that is the best way now. Business development is the most important thing when your service provider and a lot of cold outreach, which is less successful. But it's a numbers game at that point. If you reach out to 100 people a month, maybe you get five leads. So it seems like a waste of time. But there's a way to, you know, hire people automate that. But referrals remain the number one way the role of the people I reach out to our usually the founders. Yeah. You wanna talk? You wanna talk from founder to founder You If you speak to someone that Z you know, a bookkeeper or, ah, sales or an analyst or something else, it z going to take a long time. And if you're not completely the right person, so sit under two founder, umis the biggest pain point. Not a lot of people know how to do it. Know who to talk to, but everybody needs the money. Eso That's the pain point number one number two is even if they have some personal money or friends and family that put money together, they don't know how to forecast short term. Where is this money going? Like they're spending their paying for what they think is right. The bills, the legal in this, but they don't have the visibility. So we are helping being kind of that the gatekeeper and explaining how they should spend or if they're about to spend that much, that they should really adjust etcetera. So reading the forecasting is probably the second largest concern.

What are the roles of client's employees you routinely work with? What are the challenges in working with them? What approaches help to overcome challenges?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
working with them is to convince them because you can have great calls, great conversation. But they're going to give you some money, even if it's, you know, small, large whatever it is. And they need to make sure that you're going to deliver because you, you and people listening. I've probably heard stories off. Oh, they hired a consultant for six months. It was a disaster. Well, sometimes, of course, it's sometimes there's disasters, but thank God, sometimes there's great. Of course there s So that's one of the biggest challenges to convince someone you just met that you're the right person and you're going to deliver on what they need. Onda way I do. That is, through private, private prior clients. I make sure that some of my clients who became my friends, whether I work with them or not anymore, I asked them to spend 15 minutes on the phone with another founder and say I worked with Vincent and his team. This is what he did for us, and that is usually the most convincing way. Um, once we are working together, there are other challenges. One of one of them is the access of information from them. They Oh, they wanna hire a consultant, and they know exactly what you need to do. But they don't have time for you. So having a consultant is not the same as having an employee that you can rely on and that reports to you. A consultant needs you to give them input information. So So you hire consultant and then you have homework, and that is usually, uh, it doesn't happen very often. I'm lucky you knock on wood. For now. The people are reactive because I work in startups. So it's not like very complex businesses with 40 people. But when they are 40 people, I have one client like that, and it's I have to be very mindful of their time because they're busy. But I also need their time so I can, you know, prepare the work and and do my job and and give them the tangible deliverables they're looking for.

What skills and qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
my company is. I was able to kind of take it where it is by myself. Until a year ago, Um, the first editions had to be in my in my case, it doesn't need to be this waste, but had to be senior people because I had thio kind of multiply what I achieved with someone else similar to me because I know how to do it. I can bring the business, but I don't have enough hours on the day, So I am my The way I'm building my company is with people that have equal skill set and experience 5, 10 years and that I can rely on for the job that I'm delivering. But just we need more clients. The next step of hiring. Once this is done with maybe two or three people, will be to do a proper bottoms up, recruiting with analysts and associates to help with other tasks, more administrative, and then they can learn from us and become and grow. But because I'm so such a small company, it's not the same corporate ladder yet. Eso what I'm looking for in candidates is full autonomy, understanding exactly what it is to build a financial model. They've done it before and they've worked in the CPG. It has to be very specific. I guess the the conditions are pretty stringent right now because I need food and beverage experience. Financial modeling experience, CFO experience. Five years experience. I know at least I can trust them with the output, and they will need my supervision to understand how Step two works and delivers. But it's a lighter supervision that doesn't really go into training that much. Um, my dream is to, as I said, have three or four of these people working with me and then start hiring under to basically gain, um, efficiency and optimization of everyone's time by by dividing the task from, you know, an analyst task to an associate Thio more of a senior part.

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you feel good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
job. But it is very gratifying when a client succeeds, because not only are we giving, uh, extra life or more runway or time for this company to continue to grow, but we're also giving ourselves probably a job or project during that time frame. So our job is not to fundraise. We're not investment bankers, but was I described before we helped fundraise by providing the right materials and the strategy and the psychology that goes into fundraising. So I'd have to say that I've done this on Lee five or six times in the last. I guess it's not so bad 56 times in the last four years, every time it was successful, but not every time it was successful at the same pace. Sometimes it was quick and efficient. It took four or five months that it's quick and efficient in the fundraising world, and sometimes it took 12 months because ups and downs and hiccups etcetera. But in every single time the problems can be different. So the problems can be, uh, that the market is not look, that is not like Cove It Cove. It hit in March, and some people were fundraising in January. It happened to me with one client, and we closed in July and it was a big success. But it was very difficult and we had to. The business had to prove that it was Cove it proof. So instead of focusing on the Rays, we actually my team went in and said, Okay, what are you doing right now to protect your business? And then they and so we focused on that. They did some adjustments. The revenues didn't suffer, they actually grew. And then the investors was like, Oh, I'm impressed. And then the round went well, that's one example with the problem in the context. But in General Kobe decide the main issues are finding the right investor partner, and then you can find one and you date a little bit, and then you realize they're not the right ones for you. It could be a disagreement on the terms disagreement on um, on the vision on the company, and therefore I'm here to to be the mediator and make sure the brand is protected and finally right and the best investors. Sometimes it's important to say no, and it extends the process another three months and it's very difficult on the founders nerves when they're looking for money to continue to grow and they don't want to stop eso. That's the second example of problems in context with the solution, which is to sometimes be patient to find the right fit. There's never a good deal with someone you're not comfortable or doesn't share your vision.When this happens, one of the two parties is getting, Ah, bad deal. It's hard because, you know, maybe someone really needs the money and someone says, Here's the money. These are my terms and that other groups that All right, let's do it. It's like it's like it's like Shark Tank, You You only have a few seconds to make a decision, But the impact I made in those examples is really just to be the mediator. It sounds like a nisi job, but it's extremely hard to manage a real business expectation. Riel. There's real people, employees, financial constraints, the process, which takes the time it takes and the terms that might be low from the investor side and high expectations from the founders and try to meet in the middle to make sure the good deal. Um, that's only the first part. Once the deal is done, I'd like to stay on board and then I and then it's called investor relations. It is one of the services we offer. We have to talk to these investors there now in your kitchen, and you have to. You cannot cook by yourself anymore, and so you need to address to them the problems and reports every month and every quarter. And then what happens if you don't make your objectives any expectations? It's great when you exceed them. But when you don't, how do you keep everyone in the same kitchen without tension? And so that's also our job.

How has the demand for certain skills and technologies changed in your field? What kind of consultancy work or jobs would see big growth in the upcoming years?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
skill that people need right now is what's called growth. Hacking in in the journalistic way. If you don't need to be a coder, you don't need to be a programmer. But if you understand how to sell online and understand the data analytics that go into direct to consumer business, you are gonna have a job for the rest of your life. It was already big before co vid, now with food and beverage, basically grew its online sales in one year to where it was planned to grow in 10 years. I don't remember the exact statistics, but I think I saw an interview from the founder and the CEO of Square. The Payment, the payment online payment company. And they saw transactions grow from global transactions in the world. I think they were at I can't remember. Don't don't quote me on this, but maybe they were at 5% or 10% of the transactions, and they went to 25% something stupid like that in nine months when they were expecting to get there in 10 years. So for food and beverage, it was even less developed than for elect electron, ICS and other goods and clothing where it was already quite events. And now all the restaurants, the billions of dollars that are not sold. They were transferred into supermarkets and home delivery. And all of my clients are looking for people that can that understand how to drive traffic to a website. How to work on the user experience to optimize the journey of the customer. When you click and you select in your card, and then how to convert mawr of customers that are visiting your website to buy food. And there's not there's not a lot of talent out there at the different stages. It's either a big agency right away. Same thing when I when I started. There's a niche there to create something affordable for companies that are doing their 1st $100,000. Now Amazon is a totally different channel, but it's still online business for food being listed on Amazon, fulfilling with Amazon or fulfilling yourself aan den, doing marketing with Amazon and understanding the pricing of it. That is also that is also a skill and a job in itself. So brands air trying to either do their own director consumer or Amazon or both This is where I see the most opportunity, and it's 100% of technology skill that is necessary for that industry.

What college programs did you attend and what were their best parts? How did each of your college programs prepare you for your career?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
I completely diverted from finance. They certainly they certainly created a framework away away to think about things that I'm convinced about. I did my studies in France, in the top engineering schools. I think I got one of the top 10 schools at the time. But rankings have changed a lot in the last 20 years. Uh, after five years of studies and a master's degree in engineering, that's when I decided I wanted to go to banking. And so instead of applying with this profile, which could have got me a job, I decided to do that a few extra years. It was not a full five year master. It was just a year and a half. But you could get in with this first master and get a finance masters degree in less time. On Di did that at HTC Paris, which is the top business schools in Europe. Um, so I mean, I was 25 I was lucky that I was able to study for that long. Um, and the best part, I think, was really the campus life and all its life. But it's not. It's not really not the same as the U S um, it za little different. I would say, Uh, there's no spring break. There's no you know, it's it's maybe a little bit more Uh, e. I guess you study a lot more. That's what I'm trying to say. But I needed that. There was no vacation for me. I'm changing careers. My parents paid for my education. I'm blessed, but I'm changing now to finance. I have no room for error. So luckily for me, I was able to apply as soon as I was done with that Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etcetera, etcetera. Then I got a great job. But what I think stayed is the because I did science, and that's that's what that was. My major, uh, it's really the Cartesian world of framework of thought. I'm not a creative, and so I had to go into a job that allowed my skills to shine because that's very important. If you do not go somewhere where you're not, that's not formatted for you because it's never gonna work whether it's corporate or entrepreneurial. So, yeah, I guess the college programs prepared me with the methodology, but it didn't really matter what I learned. I learned things like the context, the chemical content off rocks in the desert, you know, so it and how to melt a product into rubber and things like that. But we'll never use it, but going to class following logical things that gave me the framework, and that's what I could help the beverage company without any beverage experience.

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? If any, please also discuss your experiences facing adversity, or trying something unusual.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
If you're not happy in your job, then think about a pivot. Don't be scared. But if But it's not a it's not a goal to pivot, it happens. And when it happens, it is the scariest thing. You. I was 33 years old, 34 years old. I had did I did great. I had a good job, high paid job as a trader with a book and three employees and the team, you know, like it was suicide for 90% of my company, my friends, to change companies or let alone change careers. Why would you even do that? Well, so the light lesson is that you have to. Of course, Sometimes the hard decisions are the right ones. What I'm trying to say and I knew that there was something there that I could achieve, even though I didn't know what it waas and I was gonna I was gonna be okay. Um and so one of my life lessons was that I trusted my gut, and I did it. So that's number one. Number two is that if you are in the most, not desperate. But if you are in a situation where you really don't know if this is the right thing to do. Um, we don't have time to get anxious. We don't have time to be depressed. We just have to. And that's easy for me to say, because I was more of the scientific kind, uh, timeline deadline. And do not think about plan B until you have reached your timeline. Yeah, because people think too much of Plan B when they're just the beginning of plan A and so easily, you can just not go through the process and then just jump to plan B O. I will go back to this country or this town and go back to my old job. Uh, I believe that if you persevere in something, you will get it. That I mean, I'm the living proof. I was not going to stop in my head. I was not going to stop until I succeed. But I knew that I had the 12 month deadline, and then you change your milestone. So now that the third life lesson is to be versatile and flexible, it's not just one way. Definitely not. So you need to change and adjust. It doesn't mean you failed or you didn't follow the rules that you said to yourself? No, of course not. After 12 months, I've done $100,000 in pay. Great first achievement. What is the next 12 months gonna look like? You change, you change your milestones and you adjust. So this'll is a little bit on the spot. I didn't prepare for these questions, but hopefully those three lessons will be helpful for the people. Listen.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Oct 14 2020
I think there's a There's still a lot of value and working in corporate early, but I don't think there's a lot of value working in corporate late, So I am not. I mean, I I respect the people that have 30 year careers and grow to become big leaders of billion dollar. Think that's great. We need them now that I'm more on the entrepreneur side. I think doing five years in corporate and learning about that category that you like, whether it's clothing or food or technology. It's the best way to learn how a big company works. How interaction with employees, uh, to get training that you wouldn't get by yourself at that speed. And then, if your entrepreneurial great, you will have learned all these things and you can take them with you and make them better, you can you can. But it Z if you're 18 years old and or if you just graduated college, you're 21. There's only a handful of people that just jump into entrepreneurship and succeed because even if you're great and have a great idea, you're just missing some experience and the newspapers will show you this 18 year old girl that created a candy company without sugar. And now it's $100 million company. Wonderful. Is that what you wreck? I recommend everyone to do No, no. Yet I would go for corporate for a little bit. And then if you like it, stay and grow. And if you don't like the corporate world But you have at least that now you've learned how it works, Then you can You're better equipped.