#Entrepreneurship – the business school of thought feeding modern minds
Amongst the slew of inspirational quotes on entrepreneurship to be found online, a couple stick out starkly from the predominantly platitudinous posts: “I never dreamed about success, I worked for it”, and "Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”. The fact the authors, Estée Lauder and Steve Jobs, need no introduction, only serves to add to their gravitas.
Both quotes resonate with Elodie Andriot, who after studying journalism and following a career in marketing, decided to follow an entrepreneurial path. “After around a decade in the workplace I felt that it was time to be an entrepreneur; the driving force was to be in control of my own life.”
Andriot had two key prerequisites when choosing a business school to study for a masters in entrepreneurship. The first was to graduate with more than just theory to draw on. “I chose ESCP as it’s extremely practical,” she recounts, “it teaches you first of all to find ideas, then to find the right ideas, and then how to find an idea you know is going to work.”
Within a week of starting their Specialised Masters in Innovation And Entrepreneurship at ESCP Business School’s Paris Campus, Andriot and her classmates were set the challenge of making as much cash as possible within 24 hours, and within a month they were pitching mock presentations for Venture Capitalists to each other. “It teaches you to get out there, test ideas rapidly, work hard, and to fail fast,” she says, “plus you learn how to open doors, and that no door is too big to be opened.”
So when Andriot had the idea to create an ‘Uber for kids’, a safe means of getting children from A to B that would appeal to time-pressed parents, she went straight to the man running Uber in France. Great idea, he told her, but with a shortage of drivers of all types, recruiting enough with the additional paperwork required to ferry children around would be nigh on impossible.
Andriot’s second requirement for a school was its extended network. Beyond being plugged into the Parisian start-up ecosystem, the calibre of fellow ESCP students added to its appeal. That paid off, as Andriot sowed the seeds of her company alongside classmate Daria Chernova the day after they graduated.
Frustrated with a lack of successful female role models in the professional world, they shot and shared short interviews with some of France’s most successful women. The interviews garnered huge interest online immediately, led to regular slots on France’s most watched TV news channel BFM, but ultimately proved difficult to monetise. “It was like a student project that got out of hand,” laughs Andriot, “though it taught us that CEOs in France have no personal online presence.”
Noting this not only fuels stereotypes of charisma-free capitalists, but also leaves the world’s biggest forum for thought leadership open to start-ups and challenger brands. Andriot and Chernova launched Renowme, with the remit of turning corporate figureheads into opinion leaders.
Partnering with an established financial consulting firm in Paris, Renowme works closely with CAC 40 CEOs. By picking a topic that aligns with their firm’s goals, and using social media channels to find a voice to transform business leaders into opinion leaders, Renowme helps build stakeholder trust, attract talent and create business opportunities.
Neither selfies and home baking, nor thinly-disguised corporate PR, Renowme shapes credible, personable and sincere profiles, and then looks to place them in highly effective yet unexpected places which can help achieve tangible business goals; few male banking execs are to be found on women’s lifestyle platforms.
Less than 12 months in, business is “frighteningly good”, according to Andriot. “It’s a case of unfortunate good timing as sadly, in terms of communication, there’ll be a before-and-after Covid-19. It’s highlighted the need to approach it in different ways – just look at the CEOs who’ve been seen on the front line, leading their teams through uncertainty.”
Whilst the hyper-agile and disruptively creative brand of entrepreneurship practiced at Renowme is anything but business-by-numbers, it more than retrospectively justifies Andriot’s choice of ESCP. When she arrived she was shy, but by the end of the year she was pitching in front of 500 people, and a month later she was pitching live on national TV. And that pivotal breakthrough, along with the game-changing meeting with future investors, was gained by leveraging the ESCP alumni network.
So what does the future hold? “I sense we will grow organically,” says Andriot, “It’s never been about building a business to sell - I’m most excited about the journey, and the freedom. Being focussed on getting the business to a position where you can sell it might compromise our success. The real appeal of entrepreneurship is to be in control of my destiny, and set my own limits.” Now there’s an Instagrammable inspirational quote if ever there were one.