Balthazar de Lavergne
I invest in your ability to pinpoint problems in large markets, quickly bring a product to market and flawlessly execute on the business.
I grew up in an idyllic environment in suburban Paris, where I could bike to school and spend days building tree-houses. I’ve never been afraid of heights – to this day, up in the trees still remains my number one spot to be alone and think. I learned not to fear risk. I built a bunch of things like rafts and zip-lines, and searched for the idea that would turn me into a millionaire. I never found it.
I did well enough in school and enjoyed most of it, up until I got kicked out of my university prep school when I was 19. Oh, what a (painful) surprise that was for me. I refocused, went to another preparatory program, worked harder, didn’t get my dream school, went to yet another program, where I finally learned how to work properly, enjoyed it tremendously, and was eventually admitted to the Ecole Polytechnique. I loved mastering my subjects and navigating through complex problems until they appeared clear to me. Problem breakdown, subject ownership and strategic path discovery are some of the things I would later rediscover when starting my own company.
During my time at Ecole Polytechnique, I had the chance to double down on skiing and climbing within the Army. Determination and resilience were the motto. It also gave me time to think about my future. At a time when everyone was concerned about the financial crisis, I thought we were fortunate, as students, to have the time to study this crisis and to better comprehend how it had changed the world in some very important ways. I studied economics for two years, worked for Lazard, discovered the corporate world and flew to New York to pursue a Master’s degree in Management, Science & Engineering at Columbia University. There, I got acquainted with Entrepreneurship and the American way of thinking: efficient, down-to-earth and business-oriented.
I worked for Rocket Internet in what would be a roller coaster period that sent me to Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and New York. I went from venture to venture, redesigning the entire company’s processes with a team of 4 people. We executed fast, we were harsh, we slept very little, and partying was a serious matter. I learned tremendous amount, and knew I would not fit in the corporate world any longer. Execution, execution, execution.
I thus went back to Paris to start my own company in a very complicated market: freight logistics. I learned the hard way, becoming a CS guy, doing door to door sales, getting to know TheFamily and other amazing Entrepreneurs, having my first product killed off and a second product that proved a difficult market fit. 18 months later, my co-founder and I decided to shut things down, and that is when I decided to join a crazy team of doers: TheFamily.