In the bustling world of startups, talent acquisition is an essential pillar that enables a company to develop and thrive. But what really happens behind the scenes of this often complex process?
We had the privilege of speaking with Jeanne (Senior Talent Acquisition) and Chloé (Global Head of Talent Acquisition) from Agicap, a rapidly growing scale-up, tipped to be a future unicorn. In this detailed and enlightening discussion, they give us a valuable insight into the art of building an A-player team.
Jeanne and Chloé describe how Agicap strives to attract exceptional talents, emphasizing the importance of transparency and alignment with their values. They discuss the significance of the onboarding process, the continuous support from the HR team, and creative strategies to boost team cohesion. They also touch on topics such as the challenge of rapid growth, the importance of adaptability, and why Agicap's work environment isn't for everyone.
Hello Chloé, Jeanne, could you introduce Agicap to our readers?
Chloé: Hello Nicolas! Agicap is a scale-up founded in 2016 in Lyon, France. Our primary mission is to address a critical need for all businesses: cash management. We've developed a solution that greatly simplifies this process.
In our solution, users have access to clear dashboards that provide a detailed overview of their cash inflows and outflows. They can see forecast graphs and even create scenarios. For instance, if a company is considering hiring or investing, it can see the real impact this will have on its cash management. This is the very essence of Agicap.
We also offer automation for suppliers, meaning payments can be made directly through our platform. All information and data, including invoices, is also managed here. Lastly, we have a client section where the follow-up processes are automated, with personalised messages.
In summary, the main takeaway is that Agicap allows companies to gain significant time and achieve remarkable accuracy on their past, present, and future cash balances. More importantly, Agicap helps CEO’s and CFO’s to make informed decisions on strategic cash matters.
If you had to summarise your values in a few words…
Jeanne: I'd say "Excellence, Ambition, Impact." This is what drives us every day at Agicap. We call it "reach for excellence." Agicap has big ambitions, setting challenging business and growth objectives, and we do everything we can to meet them. Impact is crucial for us, as each person who joins Agicap has the opportunity to make a significant difference, both for our clients and within the company.
The second word I'd choose is "Benevolence." This is something we greatly value, whether in our recruitment or among our employees. We have established numerous supports for our employees to ensure everyone feels heard.
Lastly, the final word is "Humility." Despite our ambition and pursuit of excellence, we hold the importance of humility at the heart of our business. Within the various teams, we have people with remarkable backgrounds, yet they remain profoundly modest. This virtue is something we actively seek and assess in applicants during our recruitment process.
Chloé: Indeed, these values are authentic for us, not just beautiful words we write on our website. They are concrete and palpable things, genuinely felt in the open spaces, and we take them seriously, both internally and in our interactions with candidates.
A decade ago, before the rise of French entrepreneurship, it was challenging to associate kindness with performance. Today, we strive to bridge these values. We are a company that wants to do business and experience rapid growth, all while working together, in line with our clients' values and needs.
In one minute, what is Agicap, and why should one join you?
Jeanne: Agicap is a French Tech scale-up, founded in 2016 to solve a very tangible problem: help European SMB’s to manage their cashflow. After several funding rounds totaling 121 million dollars, we grew from 30 employees in France in early 2020 to nearly 500 employees across six countries today.
A month ago, we were named by the British investment firm GP Bullhound as the next billion-dollar company, potentially the next unicorn in the coming two years. Our project is hugely ambitious, and we're always looking for people to join us in this exciting journey.
You made my task easier by talking about your rapid expansion, going from 30 to nearly 500 employees since 2016. I assume this required a solid structuring of recruitment to build what is Agicap today?
Chloé: Of course. We have what I like to call a “test and learn” mentality at Agicap. We try a lot of things, see what works, what doesn’t and where we can improve. We iterate a lot, among ourselves but also with the teams, managers, and our co-founders who are very involved in hiring processes. I think that's our strength today, what sets us apart and allows us to move so quickly while remaining effective, selective and candidate-oriented. Our recruitment processes are usually in three stages, sometimes four, depending on the position.
Today, we have a recruitment team of about fifteen people. Our team is mainly centralized in Lyon for the time being, for all of Europe, except in Germany where we have a local presence.
In terms of tools, our main tool is still LinkedIn. 60% of our hires are done by active search. We also use Lever to track our candidates and processes with teams and managers.
Jeanne: What's interesting to note is that our recruitment team is really at the heart of Agicap's strategy. Our leaders understand that to achieve our goals, recruitment is essential for growth. That's why our teams and managers get fully involved.
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And what about the integration of new employees?
Chloé: Good question. Indeed, at Agicap, the onboarding of new members is a full process. Once the contract is signed, our HR teams and our Office Managers take over from the TA teams to set up an onboarding process in close collaboration with them.
Before the arrival of our new members, we have set up a pre-onboarding phase. They receive a series of emails containing information about the company, classic HR information, and detailed guidelines that help them project themselves in the company. This can happen the following week or three months later, depending on when the contract was signed.
If the onboarding is scheduled three months later, we make an effort to integrate these people at Agicap earlier on, by inviting them to team building moments and our afterworks. For example, during the French music festival, we invited all future newcomers to an afterwork, as well as people currently being recruited, to give them a glimpse of the company.
Then, on the day of arrival, a general onboarding process is put in place. It consists of three mornings dedicated to newcomers, regardless of their position or country of origin. During these mornings, they discover each department, get a demo of the product, workshops on culture, etc.
What's important to underline is the involvement of our co-founders in this process. For example, the first person the newcomers meet on the first day is our CEO, Sébastien Beyet. For him, despite our size — we are a 500-person company — it is essential to be present at each onboarding session and meet our newcomers.
Jeanne: To add to that, after the general onboarding, there are other processes specific to each team that are also set up according to each department. However, one thing common to all is our "on the job" training mentality, which becomes very practical right from the start. For example, an SDR (Sales Development Representative) will make their first calls in their first week.
There is also significant support from the HR teams for all newcomers during their first months and even afterward. This allows them to have a clear follow-up on potential future developments.
Can you tell us about the positions you are currently recruiting for and recent news at Agicap?
Chloé: Opportunities are numerous at Agicap. We are recruiting across a wide range of departments and countries. Our business department, for example, encompasses positions from sales teams to customer success and marketing teams in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Portugal. We are also looking for talents for our tech, product, and data teams.
Jeanne: Regarding the news, a significant update is the opening of our new office in Lisbon last spring. Initially hosting mainly French teams, our vision is to make this office an international hub. We already have about twenty people on site, and our short-term goal is to expand it to include English, Italian, and German teams. We recently hired two members of the UK team who will be based in Lisbon.
Do you have any other recommendations or best practices for forming a team? Anything you do at Agicap that other companies simply don't?
Chloé: One thing we do, which may seem obvious but is very effective, is to promote bonding between new recruits, even if they are not from the same teams. It creates a certain cohesion from the start, as I observed during previous onboardings.
Jeanne: Absolutely. Employee engagement is enhanced by the community they join. Our approach, which involves integrating new employees even before they arrive and involving candidates currently being recruited in our internal events, possibly stands out from other companies.
Chloé: Indeed, at Agicap, we have monthly budgets dedicated to team-building activities. This allows us to have good times together, outside the usual framework, and promote cohesion. We like to do things that are a bit out of the ordinary and strengthen the bond between our employees. Every year, a global off-site seminar is also organised, where all teams and countries come together to celebrate the past year, our successes, engage in various activities together - generally with a bit of a sporty theme - and discuss the upcoming year. Plus, it's usually in very nice settings, this year we are all going to Chamonix!
Final question: why should one NOT join you?
Chloé: We are very transparent in our recruitment process. This is a question we answer ourselves during every interview.
My answer to this question is quite simple. The rapid growth we have experienced in recent years, which we have discussed throughout this conversation, demands a huge investment. And it's not just a professional investment. Everything moves very quickly with us. Processes can change every week. We are constantly testing new things. It's a fast-changing environment that requires a great capacity to adapt.
Jeanne: Honestly, it's not for everyone. It's a dynamic environment that attracts those who enjoy daily challenges and constant stimulation, and that have a bit of an entrepreneurial mindset. However, we are aware that it's not the ideal work environment for everyone!
Thank you for your time :)