Brick by Brick: don’t forget the mortar
Building a startup requires more than elements, it requires an infrastructure. Meet TheNetwork, by eFounders
For the past 3 years, the whole eFounders’ team has put all its energy at the service of building great companies. As a startup studio, our goal is to increase the chance of success and reduce the risk of failure. Most people think that this is mainly the result of the knowledge eFounders’ co-founders got from their own entrepreneurial experience. Here is how this is, in fact, the result of an asset we’re building — we’re calling it: TheNetwork.
What is the Network?
TheNetwork is the name of the platform that creates eFounders’s value and makes it unique. Our #1 priority with TheNetwork is making sure that everything we do for our startups can be done better in the future.
TheNetwork’s first asset is the people. For the past year, we’ve been recruiting our core team around several areas of expertise that we think are crucial to the first year of a tech startup’s development:
- a product and design team, to ensure user-friendly and beautiful products
- a marketing and communications team, to ensure growth and user acquisition
- an operations team, to get their hands dirty
- a financial and administrative team, to bring structure and processes
Altogether, there are about 15 super-heroes who not only dedicate all their skills to supporting our startups operationally — acting as true co-founders — but who also care to transfer their knowledge to each startup’s own team.
Our core team works hand in hand with our startups’ teams at each state of their development, until they become fully independent. When it is the case — as it is for Mailjet, Textmaster, Mention and Front — we keep collaborating and sharing our experiences and thoughts (and of course, some jokes) on our “Inside” Network, built on Slack.
In addition, we’ve welcomed our dear friends from other startups and SaaS companies on open Slack rooms to make the most of our experience. We currently have two Guest-Networks: one is for other founders and past eFounders’ employees, where we’ve established a space to discuss startup’s issues, request advice and share interesting profiles. Second, a room dedicated to content marketing, let by Shannon from Mention, to share tips and tricks about content, gathering content managers from great companies like Buffer, CoSchedule or Customer.io.
All together, we’re about 160 people daily communicating (and more!) on Slack. Following our path to build 3 to 4 startups a year, we’ll be over 1000 in 2 years.
Being a startup studio and therefore, building several startups a year, we needed to figure out how to optimize the knowledge transfer from one project to another. We needed to be able to save and store all the learnings we get from building companies, and update this knowledge base constantly.
If you want to be efficient and fast, you need process. We have been documenting everything that we have been doing to create new projects — that makes possible to focus all our energies on the core business and not on logistics, organization and processes. All this documentation is gathered in an interactive tool called TheBook.
In addition to TheBook, where our founders and teammates can find answers and processes, we pay attention to create templates ( for our product / market roadmaps, business plans etc), make them easily accessible and remind our co-founders when and how to use them.
For instance, we’ve gathered an extensive list of platforms (social, medias, curation lists, newsletters etc) where one can advertise / give visibility on a startup at several stages of development. Each time we need to soft- and / or hard- launch a product, this list is directly actionable: the startup’s team, along with our marketing team, simply has to break down the list according to the product’s targeting strategy.
This strategy also applies to contacts. We’ve built strong relationships with medias, blogs, business partners, business angels and VCs. We gathered all them in a home-made software called Contaqt, that enables us to share them in a smart and efficient way.
Contaqt is one of several tools that we took time and energy developing to build our asset, both using some APIs or from scratch.
Pimping up exisiting (and awesome) tools
We were using Slack, the collaborative communication tool, and were pretty amazed by it already. It became even better when we made it one step cooler.
- We’ve created our own virtual currency called the Briqs. Since it is a real challenge for us to maintain ties among TheNetwork, we wanted to add an extra touch to all the “thankyous” and “congrats” that collaborators exchange on a daily basis. Now, you only need to type /give + the number of briqs and recipient to exchange briqs directly on Slack. Members of TheNetwork can even buy actual goods with their briqs on TheShop.
- Briqs are also how we reward our team members for referring a talent that got hired. To simplify the process even more, members of TheNetwork can now even refer people directly on Slack using the command /refer. This has helped us increase employee referral by 400% in one month.
- all of our Twitter accounts are linked to Slack, anyone can ask us to retweet a good news in only one click, inside Slack, by typing /share. It seems like a small thing, but it actually saves us a lot of time in copy-pasting and logging in, and increases our sharing rates.
- on a lighter notice, we’ve created a command call /tusors (the equivalent of “get lost”, in french) — mainly used by our designers when we ask them to redesign a landing page in 45 min ;)
Building our own tools
We’re also buiding our own tools, from scratch, for what we need internally and to offer exclusive access to eFounders’ startups (or, to some extent, to TheNetwork). For instance, we’ve been working on “Curation” for a while: it enables anyone to create a curation newsletter in only a few clicks, using a browser bookmarklet and Mailjet’s integration. We’ve been using it for SaaSClub, it has considerably reduced time spent on putting together the newsletter and enabled the team to focus more on the content. More newsletters will be launched soon, we’ll keep you posted.
In a nutshell, TheNetwork is what makes the difference between eFounders and an holding company. We’re doing more than building startups: we’re building an asset, and this asset is building. TheNetwork is the pillars on which we stand to create products people want, better, bigger and faster.
Wanna infiltrate TheNetwork? Try there.