Masters' programs - tomorrow is our business

HEC Alumni in the USA: Romain Lapeyre founder of Gorgias

15 Dec 2015

HEC alumnus Romain Lapeyre (H15), Co-founder & CEO of the start-up Gorgias who recently took part in the Techstars program in New York, explains the opportunities to setup a business in the American market, and how leveraging the HEC network has been an invaluable experience.


Where did the inspiration for your company, Gorgias, come from?

HEC-Alumni-Romain-Lapeyre-Gorgias-Startup-USA

My co-founder (Alex) and I both worked in customer support for software companies on a part time basis. We realized how monotonous this type of work can be and decided to work on a solution. The solution took the form of a Chrome Extension which makes it easy to respond to customers with email templates.

Why have you decided to launch on the notoriously challenging US market?

We initially launched in France, and it turned out that our first customer was American (Kinnek.com). Since the very beginning, we chose to use English both in our software and for internal communication. Since the English speaking market for this service is the largest, it makes total sense. Although most of our customers are in the US, we also have some in Brazil, India, and of course France!

How do the French and US markets differ and how does it conform to your expectations?

Since we're still at a very early stage, it's pretty hard to say. The main difference we've seen so far is that people here in the US are more eager to try new tools, and to pay for them even if they are relatively new, which makes it easier for us to build our business. Also, compared with France, the entrepreneurial network in the US is much more extensive, which is of great help to connect with the right customers or mentors.

Which aspects of your HEC experience that has helped you get this far?

I was involved with HEC Entrepreneurs and it was helpful in many regards. First in terms of the network. During the first months of Gorgias, I spent a lot of time with internet companies created by HEC alumni to better understand the market.
It also helped to set up the financials of the company / accounting, etc.
Last but not least, HEC has many close ties with engineering schools and, since we need top tech talent, it's great to have access to top engineers.

HEC-Alumni-Gorgias-Startup-USA-Entrepreneurship

What are your next steps?

We're launching a new product in the coming months. We'll be fundraising around Techstars demo day to grow the team and launch this new product.

Any advice for future HEC entrepreneurs?

Creating a company can look very tough. Leverage the HEC network to meet successful entrepreneurs and ask them to become your mentor. For us it has been incredibly helpful to learn from and have the support of inspiring entrepreneurs.

You recently pitched your startup at Le Grand Pitch, co-organized by HEC Paris Alumni Ventures. Could you share what you gained from the experience?

From Le Grand Pitch we made a few connections with angel investors who gave us great advice and now support the company.