Engagor is Hiring: Our CEO, Folke Lemaitre, Shares His Thoughts
April 18, 2014
This article originally appeared on Bloovi. We wanted to share it with everyone because we feel it perfectly describes how we started as a company and what defines us today. But more importantly, this is a great opportunity to tell you we are hiring! If we have piqued your interest in this article, be sure to check out our Jobs Page!
Bloovi went for a visit at the Engagor office in Gent and spoke with CEO, Folke Lemaitre. They wanted to know for themselves how Folke was inspired with the idea to create Engagor. They also asked him for some tips for entrepreneurs and about the future plans of Engagor.
Folke, what were you doing before you created Engagor?
Folke: I graduated with a degree in Computer Science 10 years ago. I began as a developer at the startup DataCenter Technologies where I eventually became Head of Development. After that, I worked at Language in Computing where I immersed myself in semantics, text analysis, and artificial intelligence on social networks.
My next position was as Director of Development at Netlog where I was promoted to VP of Engineering and lead about 50 people. Once Facebook grew enough that the competition became unbearable for Netlog, I decided in 2010 to start something of my own.
That was the birth of Engagor. During the first six months, I worked part-time as a consultant while I was building the first version of Engagor. For me, Engagor was the ideal mix of interests: text analysis, analytics, and social media. All my specializations and interests combined into one.
What was your motivation to create Engagor?
Folke: At Netlog, we built brand pages (comparable to Facebook Pages). We noticed that businesses liked creating these pages but didn’t have the manpower in-house to follow up on and respond to the feedback of users.
Online input from clients was totally new for businesses. They were not prepared to engage with their customers online.
Input from users via these Brand Pages was completely new for businesses. For that reason, they were not at all prepared to engage with their customers online. There was a clear demand for it, but no one offered any concrete solutions. That’s how I came up with the idea to help businesses to engage with their clients online. That’s how Engagor came into being.
How have you built Engagor?
Folke: After 6 months of development, I introduced Engagor in a closed beta directed towards test-clients and agencies. In February 2011, I was busy full-time with Engagor. When it launched, I questioned whether it would succeed because there were a limited number of features and a few things that still needed to be developed further. But after the first month, we were already making a profit. That was really fantastic!
After the first month we were already turning a profit. Fantastic!
In Belgium, it was only logical that we tried to work with agencies. It was, after all, the role of the agencies to produce figures on social media for their clients. This was an expensive and time-consuming task, not to mention that it also wasn’t entirely accurate because it had to be done manually. For these reasons, agencies were very enthusiastic to get started with Engagor.
Engagor was completely bootstrapped into being, with an initial capital of only 6,000 euros.
Engagor was very quickly a success, so what did you do differently than other entrepreneurs?
Folke: Engagor was completely bootstrapped into being, with an initial capital of only 6,000 euros. As soon as we were profitable, I quickly began to attract various profiles. This was quite unusual, because startups often usually first attract developers.
We are now looking to grow and strengthen. At the moment, we have more sales leads than we can even follow up on.
Because we attracted different types of profiles from the beginning, that has given us an advantage. We are now urgently seeking capable people to fill several positions in both our San Francisco branch in the US and in Ghent. This is why we have more sales leads than we can currently follow up on.
Why did you decide to open an office in the United States?
Folke: We first raised money from investors before we expanded to the US. In Belgium, we managed to raise 2 million euros to support our growth. And since the middle of August last year, our office in San Francisco has been open.
Customer Support is really important to us.
The decision was made to open an office in the United States because we are always gaining international clients. In order to provide those clients with excellent support, our support service had to be reachable at all times. Customer support has always been very important to us. We have a live-chat function that allows us to support clients in real-time. Now thanks to our office in San Francisco, our live-chat unavailable only two hours per day.
What are the challenges for Engagor?
Folke: In 2013, there was a big shift from push marketing to engagement. Marketing is no longer a one-way conversation. Clients now want to speak directly with brands via social media. We want to provide support for brands in real-time engagement. Therefore, we have to help clients facilitate two-way communication across several social media channels.
Our greatest challenge is finding the right people.
We are building a big machine, so it’s really important that all the parts are well oiled and work smoothly together. For that reason, our greatest challenge is finding the right people. The team has to work really well together. With these new people, we could grow more quickly and capture the market even faster. Moreover, we must also continue to optimize our product as well as our marketing and sales approaches.
Do you have any advice to pass along to young entrepreneurs?
Folke: The biggest problem in Belgium is the fact that there are few other entrepreneurs. If you go to a café in San Francisco, almost everyone there has a startup and they tend to share their experiences and knowledge with one another. In Belgium you see that less, but there are a lot of interesting initiatives!
It’s really important that entrepreneurs take part in networking events to gain experience. That is the best way to quickly move forward.
As an entrepreneur, you really should take part in the initiatives from Beta Group, iMinds, and Bryo. Most of it is free and there you can gather the necessary knowledge for management, taxation, and law in regards to establishing startups. So as a startup, it’s really important to take part in networking events to gain experience. That is the best way to quickly move forward.
Interested in working for Engagor in the US or in Europe? Don’t hesitate to check our job openings!