Neil Patel

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In the vibrant city of Paris, Jordane Giuly’s journey began – a journey that traversed the gray weather of Paris to the innovation hub of Silicon Valley. In this narrative, we unravel the fascinating story of Jordane Giuly, a Parisian native, entrepreneur, and co-founder of successful ventures like Spendesk and Defacto.

From his childhood in a family of entrepreneurs to his experiences studying abroad and building startups, Giuly’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through every chapter of his life.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.


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    Parisian Roots and Entrepreneurial Inspiration

    Born and raised in Paris, Jordane reflects on the city’s gray weather and prevailing traditional career paths. Despite societal expectations to pursue conventional professions, his parents, both entrepreneurs, became his role models.

    At the time, the norm was to become a banker, lawyer, doctor, or consultant, and entrepreneurship wasn’t very well received.

    Their journey of launching a company in 1995 left a lasting impression on Jordane, instilling the belief that entrepreneurship could provide not only financial success but also a sense of freedom and balance in life.

    Jordane’s parents took significant risks, quitting stable jobs to build their company. He recalls visiting their small office initially, witnessing its growth as they secured contracts with regional banks.

    The family dynamic shifted from discussing school matters at dinner to engaging in conversations about business challenges and successes.

    Jordane drew inspiration from his parents, emphasizing the importance of self-funded models and profitability, contrasting the challenges faced by venture-backed companies.

    Educational Experiences: Paris, London, and Silicon Valley

    Jordane’s academic journey led him from a public school in Paris to a prestigious engineering school near the city. His fascination with technology and innovation prompted him to study abroad, gaining experiences in London and ultimately landing at Stanford in Silicon Valley.

    Jordane remembers going to engineering school and then wanting to be a banker, trader, or content analyst, much like the traders in New York City from the movie Wall Street. He did his internship in London, eventually moving to California and taking up computer science.

    Comparing London and Silicon Valley’s education models, Jordane immersed himself in the heart of innovation.

    Entrepreneurial Beginnings: Lessons from the First Venture

    Jordane’s first foray into entrepreneurship came after returning from Stanford sometime in early 2013. Alongside a friend, he attempted to venture into the newspaper industry.

    Despite facing numerous challenges and making crucial mistakes, such as building a product without user interaction, the experience served as a valuable learning opportunity.

    Jordane recalls how they spent the first six months working on a business planner without leaving the room. Their strategy was to research articles and theorize about the future of newspapers. After building the product, they spent another six months trying to get users.

    Jordane and his partners also tried applying to incubator programs without having a business model. He now highlights the importance of complementarity within a founding team and the need to validate ideas before investing time and resources.

    Reflecting on the failures of their first startup, Jordane and his co-founder parted ways amicably, a rare outcome in the entrepreneurial world. He stresses the significance of acknowledging mistakes, failing fast, and maintaining strong relationships despite the challenges.

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    Venturing into Silicon Valley and Founding Spendesk

    The next chapter of his entrepreneurial journey unfolded with the founding of Spendesk, a company that revolutionized expense management. Jordane emphasizes the importance of a unique and innovative product, combining virtual credit cards with expense management software.

    Spendesk’s co-founder was the head of product and was in charge of building the software’s features. He also took care of the fintech-related stuff. As Jordane describes, span management software is their next product.

    Spendesk’s core objective is to demystify costs and help businesses manage their purchases better. It assists companies wanting to issue credit cards for their employees by providing software to manage the approval flows.

    Spendesk also handles the bookkeeping and helps stay on top of budgeting tasks.

    The company grew quickly, from 3 to 200 employees. Today, Spendesk is the 25th French unicorn offering a truly innovative product. Jordane and his team essentially embedded corporate cards into expense management software, completely shifting the user experience.

    Spendesk’s success was further fueled by a dual business model – a SaaS subscription and revenues from payments. It has very high recurring revenues and margins. From the VC standpoint, it was a lucrative investment.

    For this reason, Jordane and his co-founders raised a lot of money, which they invested into developing more products.

    Navigating the Challenges of a Growing Unicorn

    As Spendesk transformed into a unicorn, Jordane faced new challenges post-series B funding. His decision to leave was driven by a desire to achieve personal goals and a diminished impact on the challenges of scaling the business.

    Jordane candidly shares the emptiness felt after leaving a company where he had invested 200% of his time and energy. By the time he left, they had raised $50M and had grown to more than 200 team members.

    Entrepreneurial Resilience: Defacto and Instant Financing

    After taking six months off to reflect and recharge, Jordane embarked on a new venture – Defacto. This time, he prioritized building a strong founding team, aligning on ambitions, and selecting co-founders with whom he shared values and work-life balance targets.

    Defacto aims to address the financing needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the most instant and efficient way possible. Jordane realized that these companies needed working capital, and the existing source was bank credit lines of factoring.

    Both of these options were not only expensive but also challenging to set up. That’s how they developed Defacto, which is a quicker and more streamlined source of capital, which is 18% of France’s GDP.

    Jordane estimated that around 450B Euros are factored in every year, which is the ideal addressable market to target. With Defacto, they aimed to build a credit infrastructure. In a total of one pre-seed, a series A, and a series of extensions, they raised $25M in equity capital.

    Storytelling is everything, which is something that Jordane Giuly was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

    Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

    Jordane and his co-founders, Marco and Morgan, acquired the necessary licensing to be the origin or lender of record. Defacto has a line of debts of more than 170M Euros to lend money to their clients. Jordane has successfully onboarded investors, customers, and employees through his fundraising journey.

    Vision for the Future

    Jordane’s vision for Defacto centers around instant solutions, echoing the changing dynamics in various industries. He believes that businesses should offer users instant experiences, from streaming movies to sending money.

    For Defacto, this means engaging with customers in real-time, underwriting transactions on the spot, and building an instant financing infrastructure.

    Final Thoughts: Prioritizing People and Inspired Collaborations

    Reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey, Jordane underscores the importance of prioritizing people over industry or technology. From his experiences, he encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to seek teams where inspiration meets compatibility.

    Jordane’s story serves as a testament to the resilience required in entrepreneurship, the importance of learning from failures, and the continuous pursuit of innovation.

    In conclusion, Jordane Giuly’s journey from Paris to Silicon Valley, marked by successes, failures, and lessons learned, exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship.

    As he continues to shape the landscape of instant financing with Defacto, Jordane’s story remains an inspiration for those navigating the unpredictable yet rewarding path of entrepreneurship.

    Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

    • Jordane Giuly’s journey began in Paris, drawing inspiration from his risk-taking parents who launched their company, shaping his entrepreneurial mindset.
    • Giuly’s academic journey took him from Paris to prestigious engineering schools and eventually to Silicon Valley, where he compared and contrasted education models.
    • Giuly’s first startup experience emphasized the importance of complementary co-founder dynamics, validating ideas, and the significance of failing fast.
    • Founding Spendesk, Giuly achieved unicorn status by combining credit cards with expense management software, highlighting the success of a dual business model.
    • Leaving Spendesk post-series B, Giuly candidly shares the challenges of scaling a unicorn and the emotional impact of stepping back from a company he dedicated immense energy to.
    • Defacto, Giuly’s latest venture, focuses on instant financing solutions for SMBs, emphasizing real-time engagement, underwriting, and building an infrastructure for instant experiences.
    • Giuly’s entrepreneurial wisdom underscores the priority of people over industry or technology, emphasizing the importance of inspired collaborations for sustained success.


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    Neil Patel

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