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Edouard Gouin

CREATORS

EPIC Awards 2022 Finalist

“It is much more about the journey and the people than it is about the destination!"

MD & Co-founder Convelio. MIM 2014

Hi there, This is always a difficult exercise. I am being asked to say interesting things about me – though I am relatively quiet guy. In any case, here it is. I am Edouard. I am Swiss and French. I was born in Lausanne, Switzerland and I spent my childhood years close to the Geneva Lake. I don’t think I always dreamt of being an entrepreneur. This is something that grew on me, and IE had its role. However, I believe that the one biggest driver for me has been the passing of my younger brother. He was 7, I was 14. At its core, this has been the most terrible event I have ever had to face, but this made me realize three things: 1. the said “order of things” does not exist, no kid should die yet my family and I had to deal with such a tragedy, 2. there is not that much time, 3. you can turn grief into amazing energy, and for this my parents will remain my heroes. They went on to build a foundation to fund research against child cancer that raised millions to date. They have been an amazing example of entrepreneurship in the toughest times possible. (If you want to check it out and help us, you can find us here: https://enfance-et-cancer.org/). I suppose that these 3 lessons, probably alongside others, created some kind of a bedrock from which my will to build something grew. My first attempt was at IE, alongside 2 great friends (Gabriel Le Roux and Max Karreth). For the ones that remember it, we started to build a platform to increase foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores. Short-lived, but great experience to get a first good understanding of what is required to succeed (and for one, make sure you actually solve a real problem, and ideally one that does not require to manually digitize store inventories). Following this experience, and after a couple of months in Tokyo, I joined Rocket Internet as a Global Venture Development Manager – some sort of internal consultant for what was then a very successful startup incubator. Besides meeting some amazing people, I learned first hand what it really takes to build successful companies – and that was way more than I ever imagined. Rocket Internet has been a real launchpad for me. I learned a lot in a short time but more importantly, this is where I met my co-founder, Clément, with whom I failed companies, but also brought our current one to life. Convelio is a company delivering global logistics to the art market through a digital platform and integration tool. After a stint in the art and design markets, we gained first-hand experience in the inefficiencies of shipping highly fragile and valuable works. We quickly realized that getting a shipping quote in this industry could take up to 5 days, that these quotes were incredibly expensive because of an oligopoly market structure, and that, yet, nobody ever tried to make it better. We hence decided to build a one-stop-shop from which art and design market players can get instant shipping prices, that are competitive and with a wide geographical coverage. How do we do it? We built an algorithm that combines hundreds of million of data points, and we desintermediated the value chain to make sure we could offer the right service at the right price. Today, the company is made of 202 incredibly talented individuals, that my co-founder and I are incredibly grateful to have by our side. They helped us raise more than €40 million, to build offices in Paris, London and New York and close more than 2,700 clients. When asked about my goals in life, with a bit more experience now, and as cheesy as it may sound, I think I have one: to have a happy family and live a simple life. Sometimes, I make this quote of Eliud Kipchoge my own: “In life, the idea is to be happy. So I believe in a calm, simple, low-profile life. You live simple, you train hard and live an honest life. Then you are free.” Thanks for reading!

How did IE help you get to where you are today?

IE was the first time I was truly faced with entrepreneurship. Besides the Venture Lab I had the chance to participate in, I very quickly realized that I was surrounded by hundreds of people that were thinking to build their own company one day. This gave me great drive, and life-long like-minded friends. For this, I will always be grateful to the IE community.

How did you come up with the idea for your company?

Before starting Convelio, I built a marketplace that was pairing furniture designers with local cabinet-makers. The idea was to localize the production of high-end furniture. While the production was doable, it became very clear that scaling the supply to make high-quality products was very challenging without a significant scale. I hence decided to partner with a couple of these very skilled craftsmen and to deliver across the world. I quickly realized that the shipping costs of fragile and bulky item could cost as much, if not more, than the price of the piece itself – particularly so when shipped overseas. On the other end, from my time in the e-commerce space, I could not imagine that getting such quotes was only possible by sending an email before waiting a couple of days for an answer. That’s when my co-founder and I started to think of building a one-stop-shop for every art and design players to be able to get instant, and competitive, shipping quotes. We started on the route Europe to the US. Today, we ship from Europe and the US to more than 80 countries, with an end-to-end service: from pick-up, to crating and customs, to white-glove delivery.

What is the key to the success of your company?

Definitely PEOPLE. We are very lucky to be surrounded by incredibly talented people without whom we would have never been to get where we are today.

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