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Name: Marie Schneegans
Business: Never Eat Alone
Location: Paris, France
Industry: Technology & Telecommunications
Reason for starting? When I was 21 years old, I interned at UBS in Switzerland. I felt very unhappy and isolated in that work environment, and I decided to change things: I started knocking on people’s offices in order to invite them for lunch. I started learning more about the company, improving my network and jumpstarting my projects. My colleagues started telling me they would love to do the same, but they mostly felt too shy to do so. I then realized I had to create a mobile app to help employees easily connect with their coworkers, Never Eat Alone. My company is based on a very clear mission that I pursue every day: help employees of large corporations be happier and more connected at work.
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How do you define success? To me, success is making others happier and feeling happy to wake up every day. Of course I really want to have a successful company in an economic dimension as well, but my motivation for that is not to make money, it’s to grow my business.
Biggest success: When I started Never Eat Alone, I quickly realized how hard it is to sell software to large corporations, especially because of IT requirements and security issues. I am very happy that I didn’t give up and that, thanks to a lot of hard work and a certain amount of convincing, I managed to sign up 55 large corporations as customers. The most amazing part is to see the effects of our app in the companies that use it. It truly helps employees feel happier and more connected.
It’s now been 18 months since I started Never Eat Alone, and I feel very lucky that we have made so much progress. We currently have 55 customers, which are mostly Fortune 1000 companies (i.e., Johnson & Johnson, Danone, BNP Paribas, Allianz, Aviva, etc.). Tens of thousands of employees are using the app, and we have created countless connections between them. I feel very blessed whenever I hear feedback about the app and get to know that Never Eat Alone is changing the way some companies operate. I am also lucky to be able to share my story, especially when I present it to students (for example during lectures at the MIT or Cornell University) and they then tell me they would like to start their own business. While I work very hard, it feels like a pleasure every second because of how passionate I am about what I do.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Motivating my employees is definitely what I have found the hardest thing since starting my company. I am blessed to have had by my side a core number of people who have given so much to the company from day one, but I have to admit that a lot of my first hires were totally different. I found people to be very distant from the company’s mission, and I observed some of them didn’t care about what we do. I had to take the hard decision to fire the people that didn’t fit our company culture, and to adapt our recruiting process in order to not run into that issue in the future. Nowadays, candidates are asked to do a “trial” before they join; it’s a small mission that enables us to spend a bit of time together and see how we collaborate. This has truly changed our company.
I think it’s important for women to know that it’s possible to be a 20-year-old woman interning in a large company, and to transform that experience into real and tangible change across the enterprise world. I also believe my message is all about mission and passion and that I would never have created Never Eat Alone today if I didn’t care so deeply about what it represents.
Related: The Secret to Better Hiring
Who is your most important role model? Clara Gaymard, who was the CEO of GE in France and now is the founder of the Raise Foundation, is the most inspiring woman I know. She is extremely helpful, always has advice for young people and knows how to make the right connections. More than that, she has a big heart and she is, for me, the best example of how someone successful should act: know how to give back. And along the way, she is the mother of nine wonderful children! She is a superwoman.
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Edited by The Story Exchange