An awesome episode for an extraordinary entrepreneur. In this episode, we talk to Benjamin Gaignault, one of the co-founders of Ornikar, the new generation driving school you’ve probably heard of! Discover an unusual character who does not mince his words.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I can afford to give my family and my children just about anything we want. It’s very material, but I’m proud to be able to say that my children don’t lack anything.
What will you remember about your adventure with Ornikar?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that it’s too good, too stupid. I knew that, but for Ornikar, I experienced it 20 times in the management, in my interactions with the administration, etc. You can’t be too nice, otherwise you won’t be able to do anything. You can’t be too nice, otherwise people will eat you up, and I certainly eat up people who are too nice: I don’t attack those who eat up others because I certainly eat up people.
Is there a tech company that inspires you in its execution today?
The digital ministers said a year ago that Europe should have at least ten companies worth more than 100 billion by 2030. I think it’s like the Unicorn race, but I think that having a value of 100 billion, what company can achieve that? You have to change the world to be worth 100 billion. And today in the whole French ecosystem, for me there is one that can change the world, and that is Doctolib.
They collect so much health data, they have such incredible execution, they buy up companies… And all this is integrated under the high command of their CEO who is one of the rare specimens, I think, to be able to scale a company to stratospheric levels. I don’t know Stanislas Niox-Château, I’ve never seen him, I’ve never spoken to him, but all I hear is that this is a CEOship masterclass.
Is there an encounter you’ve had that made an impression on you?
Yes, there is one that has marked me. When Emmanuel Macron came to power, we were contacted by the Élysée Palace. He wanted to be at the service of companies, so he called on a panel of companies to estimate what the government could do to help them deploy for the benefit of the French people.
The Élysée wonders what it could do to support the development of our French companies, including Ornikar. At the end of this interview, I am escorted back to the Élysée square by an adviser. And there I was told: « The only thing that the president asks in exchange is that once you have made your fortune in France, you stay in France and pay your taxes. You don’t forget who allowed you to earn this money and you don’t go and put your accounts abroad. » I suspected that there would be a counterpart.
And I found it extremely powerful, because it’s a win-win. If the State helps SMEs to prosper, it is normal that in return, when you earn money, you stay in France, you pay your taxes, and you don’t complain.
Yes, taxes are a lot, but at the same time, without France, which is the recipient of these taxes, I wouldn’t have to pay taxes because I wouldn’t have any income. So it’s a meeting that marked me not by the person, but by the act and the message, and I found that it was quite powerful.
How do you maintain your tech culture, your entrepreneurial and managerial culture? Do you have sources of learning?
No, I don’t maintain anything. I have a lot of lunch and I have lunch with everyone, so all my lunches are taken until January 27th. These are all people who ask me or whom I ask.
For example, I saw a student on LinkedIn who told me that he really liked my career path, that he wanted to start his own company but was a bit lost, etc. At the same time, my lunch was cancelled, so I suggested that we have lunch together. So I spent an hour and a half with him, and it was great.
I don’t aim to keep anything up to date, but I hate events, I hate big gatherings, where in the end you see a lot of people, but you don’t really see anybody. And you can’t swap because so-and-so is going to see someone more interesting, which drives me absolutely crazy. So I only do one-to-ones. And so I spend my life in Parisian restaurants and cafés talking to people who have problems more or less similar to mine and in different sectors, different markets and it’s fascinating.
Is there an app in your phone that you recommend everyone to have?
I only work through WhatsApp. I do everything, everything, everything, everything through WhatsApp. It’s a working tool that is very important to me.
Is there a person who evolves in the tech world that you have met, and who has a rather inspiring career and a lot to tell that I could invite to this microphone?
Tech is only made up of inspiring people. One guy who is very strong is Aurélien de Meaux, the guy who co-founded Cheerz, a photo printing company, and who is now working on a new hyper-ambitious project which raised 160 million a few months ago called Electra.