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Interview with Pierre Dubuc

Name  OpenClassrooms

Founders Mathieu Nebra and Pierre Dubuc

Created in  2013

Business sector education

Employees (at end 2017)  70

How would you describe your company? What is the added value/specificity of your business model?

OpenClassrooms is the leading online education platform in Europe. We make education accessible to all via a freemium model that enables everyone to have free access to our courses. For unlimited access, a certificate or a diploma course, students pay a monthly subscription fee.

What did you do prior to becoming an entrepreneur?

I started working on OpenClassrooms when I was 11, so I’ve practically always been an entrepreneur! I did decide to study at INSA Lyon to consolidate my project and my skills.

In your opinion, what are the key reasons for the success of a startup?

Boldness, because you have to want to change the world, even if many components are uncertain; perseverance, because being an entrepreneur requires a lot of determination; and lastly agility, because to be innovative you often have to create a new ecosystem and be convincing.

  1. Not having a clear mission: it’s important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, especially when the going gets tough.
  2. Wanting to do too much at the same time: there are always a million things to do, and you need to know how to prioritise.
  3. Not having the right people around you: adaptability and agility are often essential when starting out, but you do need to choose the right people from the beginning.
  4. Not taking the time to take stock: you’re often head-down in your project and time is at a premium, but you need to be able to take a break and look at things from a different angle.
  5. Thinking you can do everything on your own: resources are often limited, but you can have mentors by your side for instance, to help you make the right decisions.
  6. Being scared of risk or of thinking differently: you often start out to change things. It can be terrifying sometimes to change the status quo, but you need to remind yourself constantly why you are here and what is the added value of what you’re offering.
  7. Asking yourself too many questions: find the right balance between being strategic and doing it.
  8. Fearing failure: there will of course be failures, and you need to be able to move on. You must anticipate these moments to move forward.
  9. Not being prepared about red tape: your activity develops within a specific framework, and you must not underestimate the administrative steps you will have to take.
  10. Not anticipating that it will take time: as an entrepreneur, the journey ahead is long!