I recycled NO’s to finance my start-up
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My name is Sébastien Landrieu, I am what people call a “zebra”, “a gifted child”, a mentally efficient person able to construct his own system of values without a large amount of interaction with his peers.
Believe me, despite it being a flattering term; being a zebra is not a gift >>>at all<<< (I mean in interpersonal relations). It pushes a person practically all of the time into the future while the vast majority of people are in the present (carpe diem — fear of the future…or to show who they really are)…or into the past with the nostalgia for a less complicated life.
But this natural ability to see far off puts a person out of step with the mass, making it difficult for them to understand whom you are and what you might expect from life. In the end this discrepancy creates isolation.
Because of this constraint I decided to work alone in setting up my holding project by providing for the R&D of 5 web start-ups including 4 pure players.
The problem in working alone is that you do not attract investors who are primarily interested in teamwork but projects.
Having approached many French associations to receive financial backing in enterprise creation and development only to be subject to sarcasm at the mere evocation of my ambitions, I quickly decided to cease wasting my time in search of assistance and focus on the most important thing: creating value for my five projects.
Tired of working in total isolation, I decided to start looking for an associate CTO in sweat equity but in these current times it is extremely difficult to find high skill workers agreeing to work in these conditions. So I made the choice to play all of my cards by preparing 500 registered (certified) letters with return receipt requested and send them to the 500 wealthiest French fortunes.
In the letters I sent, I preferred to describe my learning curve.
This learning has been a real struggle and permanent work for me these last ten years to create a certain level of education having dropped out of the school system at the age of 14 (I would say more like 11 or 12) without even a junior secondary school diploma to show. I spoke more of the performer, meaning myself more than of one or the other projects, which will unfortunately remain only projects if they are “handled with feet”.
I then listed the different types of project (5 in total) proposals of my group, described the financial potentials of each without giving any detials at such a stage and asked for an interview to deepen my approach. My goal was to obtain a financing of 3 million euros in order to offer 15% of a still non-existent group. I have received many testimonies of sympathy, admiration and encouragement from very important French entrepreneurs, but nevertheless none has taken the risk of financing me…Even by having no details at all about the projects but fields only. So, the problem was not my projects but y managerial architecture : alone.
Why 5 projets? Because it permitted me change my mind…Like some people would go walk, take a drink, cinema or else, the only way to distract myself been to work on different stuff. To be totally honnest, Aptedia has 6 projects (one to be soon unveiled) and a 7th in the pipe.
I started taking drugs at the age of 13 while hanging out with punks in an old bunker then go home at 3 am stoned out from hash and beer. My mother who I lived with at the time paid little attention that I was high on hash, alcohol, acid and cocaine from until I was 21. Lost from age 21 to 29, continually changing from one ungrateful job to the next interspersed with periods of unemployment because of the enormous frustration due to never finding myself in a good place, intellectually speaking.
At 29, by pure chance I managed to join the team of an Israeli-American web start-up for whom I worked for 3 years. I had to learn English myself by watching original version movies (and other chat and Google translators which was much less accurate than they are now) also learn about web technology, project management, etc. I worked from 10 to 15 hours a day, 7/7 without having any real social life, isolated in a basement room 100% remote only because I had found the first intellectually stimulating job of my life.
This adventure enabled me to find my true direction, that of the Web.
So I worked very hard to educate myself to a certain (higher) level, and create a network to get where I am today. For three years I have devoted my full time to the project of a holding company called Aptedia without any kind of help from my family because of a total break in relations, nor from friends for lack of free time or from the government which took me for a fool to work alone on 5 separate projects. All in all, 3 years of working with enormous financial pressures while keeping my two young children sustained considering the lack of adequate resources.
To keep my head out of water, I was forced to retain my professional duties, accounts, rents, etc.…having to struggle with armies of bailiffs without any certainty of being able to reach the end of each month.
It takes a certain level of madness, folly and passion to persevere to build ones skills alone in such a financial context.
I began to receive many negative responses to my letters (eventually in fact would be all of them) from France 500 wealthiest. I came up with the idea to recycle my requested return receipts into art. So I thought of recycled paper, boiled paper, pulp … then paper mache! The idea was there: I wanted to construct a paper mache statue, entirely covered with all of the return receipts!
I was going to recycle all their “no’s”, turning the negative into a positive, then putting it up for eBay auction sale for 3 million euros to finance my go to market.
So I brought together a fabulous team of local artists and craftsmen who all agreed to help me at their own risk, without asking questions. This team is composed of:
• Jame’s Prunier: Rendering of the model, painting and decoration
• Thierry Tonnelier: Ironmonger, sculpture for the realization of the metallic architecture
• Nicolette Humbert: Photographic reporting, design and press concepts
- Emilie Ricour-Latourte: Gold gilding on the base of the sculpture
- Garage BRIOT Nancy: car primer paint cabin
- BUR-INOX: concept design of INOX lighting
- Miroiterie Petijean : Rabbit support glass disc
- L’atelier 124 : wood work and varnishes
- Donald Grant : literary translations from French
The sponsors of the operation are:
• OMYACOLOR / Giotto: supply of papier mache
• POWERTEX: transparent resin art medium
And finally I thank my wife, for behind (I’d more say front in fact) the success of a man is always a woman. I thank her for the patience she has had during an extremely difficult period, she was able to ensure the only fixed employment of the home while I worked on these different projects with the group Aptedia whose absolute patience and unconditional love understood that I would not fail.
So it all began with a great human adventure and the “good people” who quickly became my friends for whom I will always be present.
This sculpture is 2,10m high with a metallic structure, the surface made of paper mache with Frances wealthiest 500 return receipts glued on, painted and varnished. The rabbit stands on a glass disc and hat’s inside is gold-plated ans lightned by LED with remote controller.
The work aims to be a strong symbol of the creation of a company, all that implies in terms of difficulties and beauty: tenacity, optimism, resilience, audacity, creativity, risk and magic which are all values propelling every businessperson on earth : NEVER GIVE UP!
More than simply funding a project or being an artistic expression, it emphasizes the strength and necessity of failure without which we, entrepreneurs, would never have had the capacity to rebound, grow and go forward.
I chose the subject of the magicians rabbit for a very specific reason: it is not necessary to spend time trying to seek the lost magic of our childhood elsewhere than in ourselves. Take a moment, some good inspiration and look at your hand, make it move; give it instructions, do you see? THIS is magic … But the problem is that we have lost our ability to marvel at simple and everyday things. You are capable of everything, never doubt it, you are alive; healthy I hope…go for it! Become who you want to be!
Of an altruistic nature, I decided to create the Aptedia group with the sole motivation to become a player of a positive societal change. I do not want to be buried with my money, only the need of a loving protected family and a roof over our heads … while doing something I love, what else could we need?
Whoever we are, we all have one thing in common: we need love.
Translated from French by Donald Grant
Facebook : http://bit.ly/2wJIAAx
Phone : +33(0)6 11 96 04 93
Skype : sebastien.landrieu
Meeting room : www.appear.in/aptedia
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Paper Rabbit in the news :
Economie Matin : http://bit.ly/2xmxQay
Numerama : http://bit.ly/2w4QBfD
Républicain Lorrain : http://bit.ly/2wwZYZM
Thrive Global : http://bit.ly/2jMaW7N
Les Echos : http://bit.ly/2yipcL9
Chérie FM : https://clyp.it/bmhimglk
LORFM : http://bit.ly/2DG1nQv
Art And Collect : http://bit.ly/2zPJtpJ
Est Républicain : http://bit.ly/2zklfTO