New impetus for the Startup Committee

Interview with Christophe Bianco

Startup boards can play a vital role helping entrepreneurs manage the full range of business challenges. Young firms have different corporate governance needs than mature businesses, and Christophe Bianco, the new chair of ILA’s Startup Committee, is keen to contribute to the development of talent and understanding. 

“Of course, the advice of people who have built companies is particularly valuable to startups, but so is input from people with experience of the corporate world,” Christophe said. Whether it is the financials, building a team, or general organisational matters and goal setting, it is important that entrepreneurs are helped to build solid foundations as they develop their bright ideas. Consultants can help with these, but there is no replacement for someone able to take the long view with skin in the game. 

Range of considerations

“During monthly performance reviews with startups we generally find there is an awareness of the financial situation, but everything else is missing,” said Christophe. “Having an experienced director on board can help fill these gaps, either by them contributing themselves, or calling on trusted people from network.” These factors include understanding and managing different types of risk, defining and measuring KPIs, checking on how technology is used, setting strategy and generally offering timely constructive challenges to established practices.

Not only does this have operational advantages, but this offers added comfort to existing and potential investors, as well as helping the create value. “It’s not about seeking to offer guarantees that everything will go right, but having this support and a formal plan and review mechanism offers added confidence when venture capitalists consider where to put their money,” he added.

Value on all sides

One of the key goals of the ILA Startup Committee is to work to promote the idea to entrepreneurs about the value of having a board, and why this is a good investment. It’s also about explaining to potential directors the particular challenges, and also excitement, of becoming closely involved in a growth business. No, they may not have the resources yet to offer fees that compare to established businesses, but there is the immediate reward to helping the flourishing of exciting ideas and people, with the potential of financial returns down the line. 

Christophe has seen both sides. He is co-founder and managing partner of cybersecurity service firm Excellium Services, and is also a venture capital and angel investor in a dozen startups. He was asked to head the ILA Startup Committee by the working group’s founding chair Franck Willaime, and he is now looking to build on his achievements and add to the existing team. 

Join the team

“Franck started the work of creating a repository of all possible information that the startup director might need, and now I would like the committee to use this to explain how experienced directors can add value to new companies,” he said. There is work to be done with existing and potential directors, and startups themselves, with the creation of publications, hosting training sessions, and facilitating networking. He also wants to build connections to the wider corporate governance ecosystem in Luxembourg, to enable information and expertise to the benefit all types of director and business. 

Joining the ILA Startup Committee is also an act of entrepreneurship. Founded about 18 months ago, there is much to achieve, and Christophe is seeking to recruit people with time and energy to contribute to the flourishing of this working group as it looks to create lasting value.