Interview with Kenneth Bérard, Founder and CEO, Optimy
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey before Founding Optimy
KBE: I always wanted to start my own company. Ever since I was a teenager, I had dreamt of running my own project. This long-held dream is why I left Accenture after three amazing years. I began by helping other entrepreneurs with funding, structuring and/or selling their company, until I found the right project to start. And that was Optimy.
Optimy is the world’s most configured positive platform. How did you get your idea or concept for Optimy
KBE: It mainly came about from talking with companies, listening to users’ needs and building our solution step-by-step, hand-in-hand with them. We started our venture in the sponsorship area and figured out that companies were investing more and more in their social impact. This is how we grew the Optimy project.
I am so proud to run a company that grows by enabling other companies to increase their social impact. The more clients we have, the more indirect positive impact we can generate.
Where would you like Optimy to be in 5 years?
KBE: We currently have more than 350 customers, and we are targeting reaching 1,000 clients as soon as possible. Over the coming years, we are aiming to consolidate our European leadership while also expanding our footprint in North America. We have big ambitions, and I’m confident we can meet them.
You left Accenture to set up your own company, supporting various start-ups in their development. Why was this important to you?
KBE: I really enjoyed my experience at Accenture – it was so much fun. Hard work as well, of course, and I met some great people. Before starting my own venture, I wanted to observe and learn from others, exchange ideas with them and also support them, so that the day I had the right idea myself, I felt ready to make the jump as an entrepreneur.
To what do you attribute your success to?
KBE: I would attribute my success down to my interest and understanding of others’ needs and also my perseverance. My curiosity helps guide our strategy and my drive helps support teams when they are facing challenges. I couldn’t have achieved what I have without my amazing shareholders, my key board members, our amazing ‘optimizers’ and, of course, my wife. Since the beginning of the venture, she has supported my entrepreneur lifestyle. She is a painter and, as an artist, she understands how key it is to be able to express yourself through creation.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned which have impacted the way you work?
KBE: I have learnt that you can’t do it alone. I am a single founder, and I have carried the day-to-day for a long time by myself. It’s very tiring! The journey could have been faster and easier if we had hired seasoned talents earlier. Therefore, make sure you have the right people around you as soon as possible.
If you had one piece of advice for a founder just starting out, what would it be?
KBE: Don’t do it for the money! There are much better reasons to start your own venture: challenge yourself, innovate an industry, solve a problem, realise something with others, have a positive impact… Results and money will always come if you do it right.
Which entrepreneurs do you respect and why?
KBE: The ones who, as successful as they are, stay curious. Equally, the ones who are interested in others, who listen and who support others. Crucially, I always respect entrepreneurs who stay humble.