Symbol, the company that wants to reinvent training management for mid-sized companies

Interview with Loic Jourdain, co-founder of Simbel, an all-in-one solution that helps HR teams digitize training management and provides a library of selected content that enables an effective response to team needs gives a guarantee.

When and how did you come up with the idea for Symbol?

Symbol is an adventure that is now two years old. I co-founded Symbol in January 2021 with my partner, Charles Grass. Prior to building Symbol, I was VP Business at Stuti, a scale-up. I was in charge of 2-3 teams and I felt real frustration spending more and more time diagnosing each other’s areas of improvement to enable the development of team skills, including myself, and simple solutions was not. As for Charles, while working at 360 Learning, a solution that has seen some success in France, he realized there was a need for medium-sized companies to have an all-in-one solution. Charles and I are friends with Jeremy, an entrepreneur, who introduced us because we were thinking about the same topic.

Did you have exactly the same approach?

I worked at Stuti, a very market-oriented company and Charles came from 360 Learning more than the SaaS world. It is by combining our two approaches that we have created Symbol. Finally, it is a SaaS, a learning management solution that integrates across all HR tools and marketplaces. This allows these same HRs to access the best training resources available, apart from facilitating the planning and management of training.

What have been the main steps since the creation of the company?

Already, we saw the constraints. We realized that the world of training for HR was extremely complex, especially in companies with less than 1,000 employees, because they were not equipped. Also, they have smaller HR teams. This means that they have to do many other necessary things before they can start training their teams. So we started to answer it by clearly identifying the problem and creating a niche training marketplace trying to provide the best for HR in the simplest possible way. We did this little test and we built a straight forward solution.

anymore ?

We had this phase of, I would say, ideation, during which we worked closely with some HRs who trusted us and who gave us feedback. Then, we recruited a very small team to try to build the first product that would equip companies, primarily tech companies, because this is an area that we know very well. The final step, the most important, is the recent €4 million increase we announced, which aims to provide us with the opportunity to strengthen and grow our product. Currently, we are in the process of recruiting 10-15 people who will enable us to reach the next “milestone”.

Does this fundraiser have a goal other than recruiting people?

Above all, the money will go into recruiting these people at two levels. On the one hand, to strengthen the current product and technical team, the majority of today’s workforce, and on the other, to create a market and marketing team. Ultimately our goal is to get a high-performance product and bring it to market as quickly as possible to provide a solution to the 200,000 European companies that use Excel to manage training. In addition, we are present in France with international customers and we are in talks with other overseas customers.

How did you divide the roles?

Charles and I are complementary. We both have business profiles, of course, since Charles was at HEC and I was a business lawyer and I worked at HEC. On the other hand, there is a strong complementarity in our approach. Him, with his SaaS experience, he especially takes care of the “sales” experience of the product and sales. I have a lot of marketing experience. It’s mainly how we divided the roles.
Does the business work right away or do you have to make any adjustments?
“Worked” is a big word given the size of the issue. It is certain that since the beginning, we are making progress every month in the pivot that we have set ourselves, ie equipping companies with a solution that will allow companies to save less than 1,000 employees so that the impact is achieved Can go development of their teams.

What are the biggest difficulties you faced and how did you overcome them?

Our first difficulty was building a product that combined these two dimensions, SaaS and the marketplace. It is much more than just creating software or just creating a market. This means that we have created an asset that we want to grow.
Then, I think like most entrepreneurs, we pay a lot of attention to recruiting, to the people who join us. We’re focused on spending a lot of time recruiting the right people. Above all, we are looking for profiles that are extremely confident in the interest of what we do. Secondly, candidates who ideally have the experience that would be required to work with us. There are not thousands of people who match both these requirements. Finally, we are careful that there is a strong compatibility between us and those joining the current team.

What will be the big challenges ahead?

We want to develop at all levels. So we’re going to have an organizational challenge. Having a very small, very tight team and a large team are not the same thing. The second is the challenge of coordination and integration. We work in an HR ecosystem that already has tools, so to bring all the value to HR, we need to be able to work hand in hand with other tools that exist, HRIS like Payfit, Culture AMP like Annual Interview , Etcetera. , The third challenge for us is to manage a solution that is even more fluid for all parties, not only the human resources to whom we bring value, but also to empower managers and employees in their workforce development.

What brings your solution today that is different from the competition?

We see that solutions that manage training often focus on large accounts, which makes them siled and complex solutions. They only take care of the training part, ie listing internal training courses or external videos. Our solution is simple and all-in-one. We manage all aspects of company training and are therefore suitable for companies with less than 1,000 employees.

What is the need that makes us decide to call you?

The first “user case” we deploy to is the development stage of the company. This is usually a company that has more than 50 employees, that has set up or is going to have its annual interviews and that knows that during these annual interviews, it will have development needs that it needs to respond to. . She wonders what’s the simplest and most effective way to make maximum impact and control your budget. This is where we come in, we are the solution that gets over.

What has surprised you the most since you created your box?

What surprised me the most is that HR today is extremely well equipped and optimizes a lot of its functions for all administrative matters, like payroll, absence management, that kind of topic. On the other hand, it is often not their priority when it comes to developing their teams and investing in the first capital they have, employees. I was very surprised to see the extent of this discrepancy, but I was also positively surprised by the fact that more and more HR people are aware of this topic, take it forward and come up with an effective solution to help them. is required.

“Our first challenge was to create a product that combines these two dimensions, SaaS and the marketplace. It is much heavier than just building software or just a marketplace. »

Loic Jourdain, co-founder of Symbol

Loic Jourdain’s 3 suggestions

  • Surround yourself well. Building a business is a human and collective adventure. Surrounding yourself well starts with doing it in your personal life, then with your partner, then with your employees, then with your investors, etc. It’s really hard to determine, in my opinion, and it’s hard to go back to when we started on a bad base.
  • Be humble but have ambition. I think we often mistakenly tell ourselves that we should build something small and inconspicuous first, that it’s easier than building something more ambitious. And in my opinion it is not correct. If you want to see an impact in an area you invest a lot of time in, it’s better to be ambitious than not to set limits.
  • Invest time in training and coaching your teams. Because again, this should be the No. 1 expense item and it’s the best way to make the most impact on your organization.

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