Eloquens is the world’s leading knowledge platform for ready-to-use Best Practices. In this interview, you will meet Tim Demoures, the Managing Director of Eloquens.com, who tells us more about how Eloquens was created, its story and where it is heading. Tim also gives a few tips to aspiring entrepreneurs.
You can also read the full transcript here:
Hi there, good morning everybody. We are here at adVentures startup studio this morning and we are going to be talking to Tim- MD of Eloquens. Thanks for being here today Tim.
Okay, so firstly would you be able to tell us a little bit about yourself, about your background, about your personal life etc.
Absolutely. So I’m an Economics and Management graduate. I’m from Paris Dauphine and HTEC Business School. I also went a bit to the US and Hong Kong during my business studies where I discovered quite a number of things which oriented me on certain startup issues. Though I didn’t really start in the startup world. I was originally prepared to go to the strategy consulting business like a business graduates were pushed towards at the time.
They’re pushed to startup consulting are they or consulting in general?
Strategy consulting. If you’re doing well, in business school everyone says hey you know try strategy consulting. It’s a career where you can learn a lot, where you’’ have a great career and one of your clients might hire you afterwards, so I decided okay let’s give it a shot. 3 months into the job, I didn’t like it. Decided to try something else. Didn’t know where to go. And actually I came across Antoine Duboscq who’s the founder of adVentures startup studio right about the time where I was trying to look for alternatives after that first strategy consulting experience. And we discussed, we had a really informal chat, and he told me about his company, which basically its mission was to create startups. And I was like okay this is new I’ve never seen this before. And he was looking for someone to help him out so I said okay, might as well, it’s now or never. I’m young, I’m hungry, I’m ready so..
Yea okay perfect I’m sure he was glad to find you. And so then from that, can you please explain to me how Eloquens came about from its conception to its growth to where it is today?
Absolutely so Eloquens is a company which was created in 2014 by Antoine so way before I arrived. I arrived in June 2015.
So it’s fairly new?
Yea it’s fairly new company. But it had 2 phases. First phase was basically built from Antoine’s former experience as a strategy consultant himself. He had a very niche strategy consulting firm in high-growth strategies, something a little more fun than regular strategy consulting. But when he decided to go back into entrepreneurship in 2010, he basically had all these assets he had built in 10 years, which he couldn’t do anything with.
And they’re from WMI Consulting is that correct?
Yea the firm WMI Consulting. And so he was like okay let’s try and build something out of that and so he built an e-shop for strategy tools, which was called Eloquens at the time. His objective was to try and see if he could build the first strategy shop online where people could generate some passive income. So that worked alright but it wasn’t really a startup kind of thing. Just another e-shop. So I came in to talk with Antoine about Eloquens a few months into the job, and we came to the conclusion that there were other people with that mindset so with either a will to share Best Practices to grow their own visibility, either for the pleasure of sharing or simply to make some money out of it. And instead of everyone doing their own little e-shop, we’re trying to see if we can bring everyone together on one single platform. So the pivot we made was that instead of trying to build the content was instead of building the content on the platform ourselves, we’d only do the platform, and build it for others.
Okay, so instead of for example, consultants having their own website in which they would share their material, they would come to Eloquens and publish it there, is that correct?
Perfect. Okay so then can you explain to me why you decided you wanted to play a bigger role in Eloquens?
I think I liked the idea first, I think the vision, the bigger picture is building the Amazon for methods. So there’s kind of a big shop where people can showcase what they’re good at doing so either models, powerpoint decks, methods etc. And in this way helping other people with a specific need, and addressing that short cycle of learning which wasn’t really structured yet. So something I’m really keen on doing, it’s why I wake up in the morning every day and say hey you know you’re helping hundreds of people every week and this could be even bigger.
Yep for sure. So, why do you think then that there is that current need in the market for Eloquens? Do you think that there is a growth in startups where more entrepreneurs are coming and needing material like your authors are providing?
I think there is, yes. I think that the big trend today if we have to identify one is self-learning. You’ll see more and more entrepreneurs, business owners, or even experts who are trying to access knowledge from the web, trying to build on what other people have done, and what we’re trying to do here is try and create one single place where we can have the same mindset to create a whole load of synergies.
Okay so you identified that entrepreneurs are actually finding difficulty in finding this material on the web, so in that way then Eloquens was really created to facilitate that process for them?
Okay I understand. And so then obviously it’s going to be of great benefit to users, to entrepreneurs, startups, but how can it also be of benefit to authors?
So on the author side, the interesting thing is, before if you had something smart that you’d done in the past, and you wanted to share it out, it’s very, very hard for you to get the right audience and really identify that audience. So from the relationships we’ve had with our first authors, and from the inputs they’ve given us, there needs to be 3 things:
First benefit is where you can grow your visibility by identifying other people who downloaded your Best Practices.
So get insight into your target market in that way.
Basically if you publish a startup cap table for instance in excel, and you’re someone who helps startups in fundraising well, instead of random people downloading your content marketing, here you have really the identity of the person, you can discuss with them, they can give you feedback on your work, so it makes the experience even stronger.
That’s the first point. Second point is monetization. Meaning that if you’ve done some great work, and you think it can be useful for other people, it can help others gain 4/5 hours in work, you can also say hey, I’m sharing for like 10/20/120 bucks, and people will pay for it so we’re making something that was yesterday possible, possible. So it’s interesting in that aspect. And authors get 90% of net revenue so it’s very interesting for them, and we get 10%; that’s one of the aspects of our business model.
And the third aspect is really the pleasure of sharing. Just the fact of knowing that if you put your content out there on Eloquens, you’re sure it will be helpful for an audience that has a very strong need.
A specific need. It’s nice to know that your work is being used and that people are enjoying your content. Yea of course. So then for you with Eloquens, what is the end goal? What are you hoping to achieve as you grow as a company. As Eloquens grows as a community, what is the objective here?
Well the objective for us is really to try and revolutionize the way knowledge is shared and used today. I think one of the things identified in my past experience, and what we’ve seen also with discussing with our users and authors, is much of the very useful knowledge and Best Practices are still at a very local level, and not out there in the world and shared from pier-to-pier, and so what we’re really trying to do is break up all these barriers between people and create a platform where knowledge can spring to life. Also constantly improve itself. And where the best of what’s useful can come to the top, within a democratic way, meaning that if we have 100 startup financial models, the community together can identify the top 10 really useful ones that someone’s built in the past.
Yea of course, because you know in such a globalized world, there’s no reason why these models can’t be shared throughout and not just at a localized level like you’ve said.
And another thing as well, if I can, today we’re talking about the startup marketing finance strategy kind of categories, but the vision is much wider. Eloquens is a place where any kind of method can be shared, any kind of Best Practices can be shared, ranging from business to engineering to more technical domains. Even to biomedical domains. It can be very, very wide. That’s the big picture.
So you allow it to be broad.
Okay so there’s a lot of scope for growth and specification of course. And so, are they any new or upcoming features for Eloquens? Obviously there’s going to be a lot of growth as you’ve said, there’s a lot of scope for more things coming on board, but you, yourself on the technical side, are there any new features that you think might be exciting to share with our viewers today?
Absolutely. Let me think, there’s always a lot of things in the pipeline. New ideas keep coming in.
Especially on a new platform.
Yes, you know I’d like to say thank you as well to all the different people that are helping us every day, giving us these ideas. I think the main thing that will come are all the features that are going to enable more interaction and inter-activity between users and authors which I’d really like to try and strengthen.
To build a real community aspect so that they can really communicate easily.
Absolutely so for instance, features where people if they can’t exactly find what they want, they can actually say hey I’m looking for this kind of thing, do any one of you know where I could find that, have you identified anything on the web or can you build it for me, so going wider than what we can actually suggest.
So, authors can actively help as opposed to more passively helping?
That’s one thing. The other is also giving more data to authors. So more insights into for instance how their work is performing compared to similar work, how they’re also ranked to similar authors.
Ah okay so more statistics.
For instance, one of the things is in a specific category, you have this thing where anyone with good work, even stronger than the best guru in one specific category so there’s really this competition kind of aspect which we’re going to strengthen so that people can try and give the best of what they have. That’s one thing, and then what we’re also going to try and do is work on our collaborative aspect as well between different authors. So people can co-author things for instance.
Okay because that’s very common now where authors team up in the same industry and make things together, you know really complement each other so you’re actually going to bring that onto the site then. So how do you plan to do that?
So what we’re going to do is simply try and see how we can in the process enable an author to mention the other people that have contributed to a specific work, so they can also be recognized, should this be the company they’re working for, so the brand, a junior consultant who’s worked with a partner, or vice versa.
So in that way, give them credit. So would you be able to give our users or our authors any advice on how they can best benefit from the platform and really get the most out of it?
I think the central point, the main differentiator, because this is the question which is often asked, how are you guys different from SlideShare, the Huffington Post, which have open blog kind of features.
Other knowledge sharing platforms.
Yea so how are you different?
Well, I think the first thing is, we have this very feedback orientated platform, because when you download something, first, everyone knows who you are, there’s this transparency, and there’s really this push for saying what’s useful for you and what could be improved, so my advice would be for users to try and give as much feedback as possible to authors.
Yep, of course as someone involved in the startup world you know how important feedback is, so you’re really trying to encourage that then for users to give feedback to their authors.
And to discuss with them, and not be afraid of asking questions, and for authors to encourage their users also to be open to doing that.
So take on feedback and be accepting of it.
And one last thing also that I think is important. Even our users have this huge potential to publish great Best Practices I’ve had a number of stories from people that have been on the site and have used some of the authors work for a mission they had, and actually, upon talking with us, had discovered that they actually had stuff they could publish too. So what I’m encouraging as well is that if you’re a user, if you’ve had a good experience on Eloquens, well why not you as well? It’s a very open platform. I’m sure you could build something interesting for others. Share it!
So you encourage them to try and get them to have that self-confidence to actually publish things.
And so, finally, is there anything you’d like to say to any young entrepreneurs that may be watching today? Any advice?
The entrepreneurial experience is just terribly fun, but very very difficult in some specific aspects. I’ve identified over these past 2 years working with adVentures startup studio and Eloquens, I think 3 things:
The first thing is- many famous entrepreneurs have said this- but focus on your target customer. Everything has to be built around that customer. It’s something very hard to do for an entrepreneur because entrepreneurs have big ideas, strategies. They always think they’re right, but you’ll notice as a first time entrepreneur that 80% of the time you’re going to be wrong. So for that you really have to try and gran some data from the first few people who are going to be using your site; that’s the first point.
The second point is also try when you’re growing a bit, to hire some great people. At some point you’ll reach a stage where you won’t be able to do everything.
So this is getting later in the game. Okay, and now we’re talking about recruitment.
That’s it because it comes actually pretty quickly. If your ideas starting to work well, [fingers crossed], fingers crossed yea, I think everyone has that potential, you’re going to come from a founder/sales-led startup to a team/sales-led startup. And that transition is tough. So for this you need to be very clear that the success of your startup is going to be on the people you’re going to hire.
And the third piece of advice I would give to an entrepreneur, is to be very detached emotionally from what you’re building. It’s so easy to identify yourself as the product you’re building. To be very offended or not accept the criticisms you’re receiving, I think you need to take a very humble and detached approach.
This of course is difficult because entrepreneurs tend to be very passionate about their product. You know they can describe it as their baby and so you feel like you need to detach yourself and become less emotionally attached in order to grow.
And one last bonus tip, so number four, is about funding. Be careful with funding. Funding is a great thing, having a lot of money is a great thing, but having a lot of money too early, when you don’t really know where you are in your process, when you’re not sure if you have the right product, can actually increase your level of risk. Do this in a smart way. If you do get people to help you fund your idea, bring In people who are trustworthy, who are really here to help you out, and who are not going to bring you down when things are wonky or slightly averse of the original plan.
Okay so just funding then really trying to think about it and be careful with it and as you said then that can relate to a great team, hopefully surround yourself with great people that can more advise you on that.
Okay Tim, that’s great advice, thank you very much.
So from us today at adVentures startup studio, we’d like to thank all of our viewers for watching. Hopefully you’ve found what Tim has to say very interesting and maybe benefited from it. So with that I’d like to wish you all a great day and hopefully we’ll see you soon!