Real Estate

Leading the Way: Flavien Douetteau’s Insights on Business and Innovation

Flavien Douetteau’s Insights: Navigating Startups, Valuing Vision, and Embracing Diversity in Business

In the rapidly evolving world of software development, stories of innovation and entrepreneurship often stand out. Among the most intriguing tales is that of Flavien Douetteau, the Co-Founder and CEO of Ublo. 

With a background rooted in the banking industry, Flavien’s experience spans more than a decade, with particular expertise in managing bank balance sheets and taking part in notable banking projects in France. Yet, in 2020, a pivotal decision led him to venture into the realm of real estate software, founding Ublo. This platform, focused on runtime management for mid to large-scale corporates, has made significant inroads, expanding its reach across five European nations. 

What drives a finance expert to dive into the tech industry? In this enlightening conversation at Bright Founders Talk, Flavien unravels his journey from the financial corridors to the tech-driven world of real estate software. Join us as we delve deep into his story, inspirations, and future aspirations.

Flavien Douetteau's Insights: Navigating Startups, Valuing Vision, Embracing Diversity in Business

Flavien’s Leap: From Banking to Building Ublo

When most think of Flavien, the image of a tech-savvy entrepreneur jumps to mind. However, scratch beneath the surface, and you discover a man steeped in the world of finance. Flavien reminisced, “I spent about 12 years in Treasury Departments. That’s where we manage a bank’s balance sheet.” His notable involvement in the creation of two banks in France, no less, speaks volumes of his acumen. But 2020 was the year Flavien’s entrepreneurial spirit truly took flight. He launched his own venture, Ublo, a real estate-focused software, “a runtime management software for medium and large corporates,” that swiftly expanded across five European countries.

While some might see his shift from finance to technology as a vast leap, Flavien views it as a natural progression. “I always knew I’d create my company,” he shares, shedding light on France’s academic inclination towards finance for the brightest students. The financial world taught him a lesson he carries with him to this day. “In the finance industry, I discovered that everyone is not having a good memory. Basically, we lost history many times.” His first-hand experience with the 2008 subprime crisis showed him the cyclical nature of financial bubbles. This understanding, he believes, is crucial when catering to large corporates with Ublo.

I always knew I’d create my company

Though always certain of his entrepreneurial future, Flavien believes his time in the finance sector served as a foundational experience. His stint at member bank, a startup for SMEs, offered a taste of the startup culture, a “good internship before starting a company,” as he fondly remembers. Flavien’s life might have been ruled by financial charts and analyses once, but today, he’s driven by the energy of early mornings, believing he operates best between eight to nine, “just before the meetings.”

Unwinding with Flavien: From Cats to Disrupting Real Estate

When asked about how he unwinds from the whirlwind of entrepreneurship, Flavien shared a quirk that might seem out of place for a business tycoon – his affinity for cats. “Because basically you could not have any stress if you are looking at a cat all day,” he laughed. It’s this light-hearted nature of Flavien that resonates throughout the conversation, revealing a side of him that effortlessly marries passion with purpose.

Flavien’s drive to shake up the real estate industry wasn’t formed overnight. Drawing from childhood fascinations and a keen sense of wanting to innovate traditional markets, he speaks about the inception of his venture. With a sparkle of inspiration in his voice, Flavien reveals, “The first idea was, I really want to disrupt the real estate industry, especially on the software base.” When paired with a co-founder who brought expertise in UX design for B2B, a crucial element Flavien believed was missing in the market, their synergy was palpable. “Both of us were looking to start a new project,” he recalled, highlighting how the best partnerships often come from serendipity.

The first idea was, I really want to disrupt the real estate industry, especially on the software base

While he doesn’t usually turn to motivational quotes for inspiration, there’s one that particularly resonates with him. “I really liked the quote of Nelson Mandela,” he shared, “you never fail, you never lose, you just learn each time.” In the dynamic realm of entrepreneurship, Flavien’s approach, which marries humility with perseverance, shines through as the ultimate key to enduring success.

Flavien’s candid revelation of the ever-changing realm of entrepreneurship is both refreshing and insightful. “When we have issues, I look to understand them. I don’t dwell on who is at fault; I aim to ensure it won’t happen again,” he shares. This forward-thinking approach fosters an environment where failures are not setbacks but stepping stones to growth. Flavien’s mindset has undoubtedly been pivotal in shaping the culture of his company, embracing mistakes as learning opportunities. But it’s not without its challenges. He concedes, “Maybe I sometimes move too quickly to understand the issues.” One of the unexpected hurdles Flavien faced was managing a tech team, given that he and his co-founder had no prior experience in this area. But it wasn’t just about understanding tech nuances. The more significant challenge was grasping the human aspect and the nuances of team dynamics.

To keep himself motivated, Flavien has a delicious ritual: “Each time I make a sale, I buy a cookie.” It’s a small reward system he’s set up, but it’s these “small successes” that keep him going in a journey riddled with its fair share of nightmares and failures. His journey, he muses, is “a roller coaster,” filled with highs and lows. But it’s not just about rewarding himself. Flavien underscores the importance of maintaining perspective. He considers himself “quite lucky” for the opportunities he’s had, the family he’s surrounded by, and the country he lives in.

Your journey is a roller coaster…you need to celebrate small successes

Flavien’s approach to team-building revolves around trust and curiosity. Without abundant resources in the early days, the challenge was hiring junior members and molding them into a cohesive unit. “I really like to offer opportunities,” Flavien says, underscoring the importance of creating an environment with defined rituals to guide young talents in the typically chaotic world of startups. But more than anything, Flavien values team members who ask questions, challenge norms, and most importantly, voice their concerns. “I’m really looking for people that will tell me when it’s wrong,” he asserts. To him, a team that communicates its worries is a team he can trust implicitly.

Flavien on Effective Communication, Hiring for Small Teams, and Making a Global Impact

Flavien, a seasoned entrepreneur, owes a debt of gratitude to BNP Paribas for shaping his leadership and communication skills. After undergoing a dozen trainings about management and communication, he reached a profound realization – the importance of adaptive communication. In his words, “When you are in a one-to-one, it means that you need to be sure that the way you communicate…is well received by people.” Flavien’s mantra is to always tailor your message to the individual, which requires keen awareness and understanding of the person you’re communicating with.

What is key is execution. And if you want to have proper execution, you need advice

When it comes to team building, Flavien has a unique approach. He emphasizes what he is not looking for in potential candidates. He swiftly eliminates those who exhibit a blaming attitude during the interview process. On the flip side, he values curiosity and forward-thinking, seeking those who demonstrate an intrinsic motivation to explore unknown territories and find solutions.

Outside of the corporate sphere, Flavien’s heart is set on creating substantial change in the world. His company, Ublo, is working towards alleviating housing issues, especially for refugees. He underscores the importance of diversity in his ventures, criticizing the tech industry for its glaring lack of women co-founders and overall representation. Flavien’s genuine passion for making a difference is evident, and his advice to budding entrepreneurs is both practical and profound: Focus on execution, foster community, and always move forward.

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