Meet The Disruptors: Gilles Bertaux Of Livestorm On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Spend time to find 2–3 key features, build it well, and then iterate.

As a Global Thought Leader in HealthWear™, Gilles Bertaux, CEO and co-founder of Livestorm.

Gilles Bertaux is co-founder and CEO of Livestorm, the first video engagement platform to manage meetings, webinars, and virtual events from start to finish. As a first-time entrepreneur, Gilles co-founded Livestorm in 2016 along with Robin Lambert, Tom Forlini, and Vincent Garreau. In 2020, Gilles raised $30M in series B to accelerate Livestorm’s presence in Europe and the US and scale its go-to-market strategies towards mid-market and Enterprise. Now 5,000+ companies trust Livestorm to organize their meetings, webinars, or online events. Livestorm has been recognized by G2 as a Leader 2021 in the categories “webinar” and “web conferencing”.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

The concept of Livestorm came to me in a relatively unconventional way. After completing a diverse array of tech internships, I quickly noticed a gap within the market. Not only did I leave my internships wanting more, but specifically wanting software that could not only stream live video — but manage and simplify the tasks around it. I was looking for an end-to-end management platform that would broach customer needs and questions all in one place. With this in mind my friends (turned co-founders), Robin Lambert, Tom Forlini, and Vincent Garreau, and I got together to brainstorm for a final-year school project. This school project resulted in us building a proof of concept in three months that would be Livestorm. After our proof of concept was well received, we decided to pursue the adventure further.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Following the pandemic, we saw a dramatic increase in video conference software usage and investment. Software that previously existed incurred dramatic increases in usage, membership, and profit. As a small company attempting to penetrate the market at such a sensitive time — we were oftentimes overlooked. While we knew we were offering a new kind of conferencing software to the market — one that would provide customers with end-to-end management — we knew we had to disturb the marketplace to inform video conferencing customers about what they were missing out on. Disturbing the marketplace was imperative for our success. By moving into space with an improved video conferencing software, including tools, features, and metrics unlike what traditional Zoom, Microsoft, and Skype could offer — we disrupted customers’ preconceived notions of what a good video conference software was and presented an alternative solution.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

During the official launch webinar of Livestorm, and after months of beta testing, we decided to invite one of our most prestigious prospects on stage to ask live questions. When they accepted the notification to go on stage, a big error occurred resulting in another participant being shown on stage. In this case, it was my CTO, whose first words were “I think something’s wrong”. We laugh about it now but it was super shameful at the time. This is when we decided to drop the tech student attitude and start being professionals, with actual testing processes.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

  • Stan Massueras, VP of sales at Intercom. He played a huge part in clearly shaping my thinking of a sales team’s architecture and processes.

My main takeaways were:

a) Their approach of full stack teams per region from lead gen to account management and

b) How CSM and Account Manager split the work between Product Education and Revenue Expansion.

  • Guillaume Cabane (former VP growth Segment) and Elena Verna (former. SVP growth SurveyMonkey) shaped how we think about:

a) Growth ideation process

b) Product-led growth metrics to follow. Guillaume gave us the framework to produce educated ideas to experiment with and tie to actual KPIs. Elena gave us the step back to better articulate our metrics between north stars, team metrics, and product aha moments and how one feeds the others.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

When associating the word disruptive as a negative adjective, it can be synonymous with the concept of destructive creation. When big economical paradigms change, it often interrupts the status quo, and whether we like it or not, this might negatively impact some people. As an example, we can use uber. Before Uber the gig economy was embryonary, now everything is Uber for X. Putting aside whether we agree or not with this vision, it did interrupt the traditional notion of how people were paid and/or employed. The question is more “How do we adapt?” and “How do we limit collateral damage?”. For everything under that, the effects are similar but at a smaller scale: companies disappear, others thrive, and some are founded thanks to them.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Spend time to find 2–3 key features, build it well, and then iterate.

Prior to this, I actually received the following advice: “Ship as fast as possible”. There is a misconception about “shipping fast”. It does not mean shipping clunky products and debugging in production, it means “spend time to find those 2–3 key features, build it well, and then iterate”. In the early days, there were many examples of things we released without properly testing and researching, we wasted time at a moment where time was our most valuable asset. Today, we take our time on the issues that matter most, emphasizing quality over quantity.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

For the next 12 months, Livestorm will focus on innovating while consolidating our enterprise offering.

We will continue working on our vision of building a modular, highly customizable, and collaborative video platform. While every customer use case is unique (brand, content, format, connectors, ways to engage, etc), we need extreme customization across the board (before, during, and after a video session). Meanwhile, we want to focus on encouraging our customers to utilize Livestorm workspaces. This requires user management, permissions, review workflows, shared calendars, etc. We hope to continue bringing the collaboration space into video conferencing.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?

In high school, I was assigned to reading How to think like a Roman Emporer: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius Stoics for homework. As a young man and bored teenager, I did not realize the impact the reading would then have on me. But, interestingly enough, the main messages stuck with me over the years. It encouraged me to try to focus on what’s in reach, what I can act on, and let the rest just be. Given how many responsibilities and anxieties professionals deal with, I guess it’s not bad advice.

Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

In the software industry, the more technological the product the more distant you become from the actual world and end usage. In 2020 when covid hit and we had downtime and found ourselves on the phone with someone currently working in the medical industry. The woman was sobbing because we were not able to help her medical team communicate and coordinate. In the midst of the pandemic, it was tough, I felt a mix of shame and powerlessness. But, it brings you back to the essential: there are always people with problems behind their keyboard using your product. Software is tangible.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Ironically as an entrepreneur, I consider myself a cautious person. I often say that When there’s a doubt, there’s no doubt. It applies to a lot of things like hiring or fundraising. At the end of the day, you may take fewer risks but make mostly good decisions. This is probably less relevant when you begin, but the more you grow, the more people count on you, and then the more relevant this advice becomes.

One final thing that I often say is that It’s not a sprint nor a marathon, it’s something in between. I believe this should drive how we do things: work smarter and don’t burn out. Work so that you can build incrementally and progressively.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Before even considering creating a new movement, I believe that the main power lies in everyone’s hands every 4–5 years (depending on where you live). Think big rocks: free healthcare, education for all, etc. The best people to talk to get elected every once in a while. I would start there.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Meet The Disruptors: Gilles Bertaux Of Livestorm On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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