Mascot @ Alan
7 juil 2021Bien-être au travail

Being a Founder Associate at Alan

As Alan scaled, Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve, Alan’s co-founder and CEO, decided to create a Founder Associate position: exceptional juniors who can help him explore different topics, own decisions and go the extra-mile. Within gap-year or end-of-studies internships, Founder Associates join Alan for ~6+ months with the purpose of learning and delivering impactful projects. Learn more in this article about the job of Louis Gaget, Maxime Faidherbe, Sixtine Tranié & Sacha Uzan and how they contribute to the growth of the company.


Alan: Could you tell us more about your role of Founder Associate at Alan?

Louis: Sure! For me, Founder Associates are kind of Swiss knives: we support Founders and Senior Alaners on a wide variety of topics, ranging from high-level strategic projects to hands-on organizational matters. What is great is that in the beginning, you do a lot of different things, but you progressively specialise on the topic you like the most. For instance, Maxime is currently working on our B2C strategy and verticalization efforts, while Sacha helps in the exploration of a new business model. On my end, I now focus on defining our long-term vision on new insurance verticals. Founder Associates also perform sort of recurring tasks (~15% of our bandwidth): coordinating the company weekly reporting, preparing some external interventions and strategic meetings for Jean-Charles, coordinating the preparation of board meetings and letters to shareholders… Those “run” tasks are very interesting to dig into the company’s performance and understand its dynamics. In the end, the position is both horizontal (you basically learn to be a founder) and vertical (you go very deep on certain verticals).

Alan: Great! So could you maybe tell us about a typical day?

Maxime: It’s hard to describe a typical day as no two days are ever the same! Generally, it’s always a mix between working on long-term topics that have great strategic implications but no firm deadlines (meaning we need to be good at setting ourselves objectives) and working on short-term tasks or coordinating projects. To do that efficiently, I personally try to allocate time in the morning and in the afternoon to deep strategic topics that require hard focus, and in-between work on ad-hoc projects that are maybe less long-term in nature. But some weeks, it’s just impossible to do because we’ll be coordinating the next board meeting and we’ll have to be super reactive to be able to quickly provide answers to everyone, so it varies a lot!

"The position is both horizontal (you basically learn to be a founder) and vertical (you go very deep on certain verticals)." Louis

Alan: It sounds like you are exposed to many different things - is that what sets this experience apart?

Sacha: It’s obviously great to have the opportunity to work across the organisation. We get to see nearly everything within the firm and to really understand how it operates. In addition to interacting with Jean-Charles and Charles on a daily basis, we cooperate with lots of people including very senior ones, so it’s a great opportunity to learn! For me who worked 2 years in finance in London before joining Alan, what really sets this experience appart is the level of responsibility we get. We’re not only exposed to many different things, we get to have a super tangible impact on all these things and that’s what makes it incredible. People really expect us to participate in discussions and strategic reflections, and value our input. This is miles away from my experience in finance, where most of what I did was pure blunt execution - I think that consulting interns can relate as well. I have honestly never heard of any other firms where you get that kind of responsibility so early in your career.

Alan: You mentioned some already, but could you give examples of projects that you led during your internship?

Louis: One of the projects that I enjoyed the most during my internship was to assist and contribute to the first M&A operation of Alan (soon to be disclosed!). It was all about creating conviction on the deal and building robust processes so that we can replicate and be better and efficient in the future. It was such a privilege to witness from so close this operation, and to have an impact on it.

Sacha: I am currently leading the exploration of a new offering that has a really big potential for the firm and I enjoy it a lot! I helped frame the concept and performed some very deep market research to understand where we could create value as a firm, and I am now starting to engage with potential clients to test the idea. We will be soon recruiting a full-time owner to lead the project!

Sixtine: I have worked on so many interesting topics so far, it's even hard to keep track ! One of the projects I enjoyed the most was working on Jean-Charles' new book promoting a more preventive and personalized healthcare system. I participated in the research, some of the writing, and owned the book delivery and promotion from A to Z. Recently, I've been working on our renewal campaign (every year, Alan has to renew its contracts with admins) and notably some product work around building the internal tooling for User Care Experts to handle admins' requests, which gave me some great insights into how a Product Manager operates. I've also owned a deep dive to understand how we could integrate tokens and NFTs in our app, an exploration on building a glasses-only subscription for students, and an M&A analysis as we were exploring a company we were interested in acquiring. Those are only a few examples but it gives you an idea of the range of topics a Founder Associate can own and the intellectual stimulation you get from working on so many fascinating themes !

Maxime: Most of my internship has been dedicated to supporting the Better Life Unit (the Alan team which develops innovative health services and products). I’ve been involved in 2 incredibly exciting projects. The first one was the launch of Alan’s first B2C product, Alan Baby, where I worked on laying the foundation stone of the acquisition engine. The second one was the launch of a project aiming at transforming the entire eye care journey (soon to be disclosed as well!), working on highly strategic topics and operational matters. When I see how enthusiastic I am when thinking about the impact this project will have on glasses wearers’ lives, I realize how smart and relevant applying for a FA position at Alan was!

"We’re not only exposed to many different things, we get to have a super tangible impact on all these things and that’s what makes it incredible. People really expect us to participate in discussions and strategic reflections, and value our input." Sacha

Alan: Super exciting! Could you tell us what you’ve learned during this internship?

Maxime: A raft of things! Naturally, you learn on an extreme variety of topics as the internship is so diverse in terms of topics - including mainly topics I had never dealt with. The exposure you get as an FA makes the learning even more robust, quick and transforming as you have the chance to support talented product managers and experienced community leaders (Paul Sauveplane, Gabriel Hubert, Fabrice Staad, Augustin Mine and many others). The best way to learn new professional skills is to work closely with the top of the notch. I truly believe that is what this internship is all about and I keep being astonished and positively surprised by the skills and leadership of the people I’m working with on a daily basis. The skill I improved the most is definitely my ability to synthesize and present my work. As the people we’re working with have quite busy schedules, you have to be super rigorous and efficient when asking for support or explaining one of your thoughts. The most senior Alaners are highly benevolent but will challenge you hard on the why and the how. Alan gives you some solid frameworks to be successful at this complex exercise.


Alan: What is the typical profile?

Sacha: I would not say there’s really a typical profile. We try to follow as much as possible one of our principles that says that we should “hire people and not roles”. We’re looking for gifted people that display a strong desire to learn and to take on responsibilities, and a strong alignment with our mission. Of course, as Founder Associates work on strategic topics, having some business sense helps a lot but it can be learned Louis for instance has an engineering background and is currently following a 3-year training program in the Corps des Mines to become a Senior Public Servant. And as I mentioned before, I was actually working full-time in Finance before joining Alan as an intern, so there is really not a typical profile!

"I witnessed the role in other companies (at Revolut for instance), and I found it super interesting to have super smart young people given the opportunity to learn really fast." Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve

Alan: What are the next steps after an FA internship?

Louis: Again, possibilities are very varied here as well. Obviously gap-year students come back to school - and I am sure that their academic choices are afterwards significantly influenced by what they experienced at Alan. For instance, Pierre-Amans joined the X-HEC Entrepreneurs master. Moreover, I think that the FA internship is a great opportunity for wannabe entrepreneurs to test their motivation and learn how to grow a company, before launching their own. Finally, we have seen a few former Founder associates come back to Alan in a different role as a full-time job. For instance, Guillaume joined us again in January as junior Product Manager (a job that was created for him, by the way) after a 6-month internship as an FA the year before.

Alan: Why creating this position? What does it bring to the company?

Jean-Charles: I witnessed the role in other companies (at Revolut for instance), and I found it super interesting to have super smart young people given the opportunity to learn really fast. That is the proof that a student with potential can do lots of things and have tremendous impact in a company. As everything we do in the company, I tested it first with one intern and realised that the more I asked him to help on several subjects, the more ownership I could eventually give him. When well coached and trained, you can really give interns full projects. I think that I would have loved that position myself when younger, as it would have helped me to be a better entrepreneur. That is, I think, an enriching opportunity to exchange with leaders. That’s super cool to see interns growing and seeing their impact.

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