Interview with Quentin Usson: The Start-up Platform and Our Why, How and What

Monday, June 13, 2016 2 Comments

The Start-up Platform and Our Why, How and What

Working in a start-up setup helps you to appreciate your ability to learn. This is compounded by the fact that you get to elevate your inspired ideas and eradicate your fear of change. It’s the essence of being a part of something new, experiencing pristine moments, and in the very process, discovering a uniquely unknown trait about you that makes you awesome. This is where I raise my two thumbs up!

I’ve met a French friend who also raised his two thumbs up on the start-up scene. This young chap helped me debunk my awareness about the whole start-up notion, entrepreneurship, and my seemingly perfect idea of French views. He has shed some light on trivial things like taking up MBA, working in a start-up versus MNCs, enjoying the full force start-up culture, and the proverbial question of all: Do French Fries Really Come from France?

Quentin Usson, who is an adventurist traveller, an international intellectual, and start-up self-starter, knows his start-up stuff really well. After living in France, Luxembourg, USA, and China, his the-world-is-my-oyster-mind-set has brought him here in Singapore. He was able to score a Business Development role in one of the newest most helpful start-ups here in this Merlion city.

Whoever said that French people are rude, or that they never speak English, or that they complain all the time, or all the other wrong French stereotypes out there, is honestly hilarious to think about, especially if you happen to know Quentin. He breaks all these stereotypes in a matter of milliseconds, and he gives people a good laugh in talking some sense into everything, be it the depth of start-up or the mystery of Singapore’s humidity.

“If you really believe that you have something amazing to share with the world, go for it.” This is shout-out to Quentin and to all the people who believe in the start-up platform. The start-up spirit will always be there for people who are driven to surpass and revel in the new-ness that the universe has to offer. 

Here’s a run through on his perspective on start-ups.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are from?

Quentin: I'm a Finance major Masters' student at a French business school and I've come to Singapore to do my end-of-studies internship at a start-up. I have quite an international background, as I've been rewarded with 2 exchange programs during my university years. I went to the US for a year during my Bachelor and a semester to Shanghai during my Masters. I've done one internship at Deloitte in Luxembourg and my taste for adventure brought me here in Singapore.

Fun fact, I have two brothers that have the same age as me, more commonly known as triplets. Too rare not to be underlined :) I've always grown as part of a small community since we were "stuck" to hang out together at home and for every holidays spent.

What are the three things that people would be surprised to know about France, and why they should come visit?

Quentin: Good question. Besides the common cliches, one of the most surprising thing for foreigners is the peacefulness of Sundays. Lots of stores are closed on Sunday, and people usually stay home and go for a walk outside the city. Cities (except Paris) are pretty calm and you shouldn't expect busy Sundays!
So that's one thing.

Second, one should be struck by the diversity of French cuisine. If eating your "croissant" or "pain au chocolat" and dipping your slice of buttered and jammed bread in your coffee is a must, you should also try the "foie gras" if you're there during Christmas, no matter how gross you think it is. After all, it can't taste worst than durian! Oh and French fries are not French, so don't bother!

Last, if you are meeting French friends, you should get used to our greetings manners. "Faire la bise" is the action of kissing people you meet on the chick. It's done between woman-to-woman, man-to-woman and sometimes man-to-man (between closest friends and family). Do not worry, there is no sexual meaning associated with this act of greeting! Careful, as in the south you kiss 3 times while in the north you kiss only twice!

Landscapes in France are so diverse. My piece of advice, for what it's worth, is to spend no more than a few days in Paris and go see what the countryside has to offer during the remaining days of your trip. You won't be disappointed!

What is it like working in a start-up company in Singapore? The Good, The Bad, The Funny

Quentin: Working at a start-up in Singapore is exciting and challenging. You must have a long-term vision even though you are working on a daily basis on meeting short-term objectives.

The Good: You get your hands in diverse projects and outside your area of expertise. It's an inestimable school for new skills acquisition. You also get to work with bright minds from whom you can learn a lot. Decisions are faster than at an MNCs and hierarchy is pretty flat.

The Bad: I don't see any. Since you need to grow and deliver objectives right away, it can be tough for less result-driven people. Sometimes hours are not your typical 9-6 jobs so you need to be able to relate to the company and be able to commit.

The Funny: when there's no more coffee... it quickly turns bad if replenishment doesn't come within a few days! Or when you have to dress like Superman and shoot outside for half an hour (did I ever tell you that I can't stand the heat?)!

Tell us your typical day at work.

Quentin: There's no typical day at a start-up! But here we go:

9:30am - I arrive at the office.

9:32am - I'm drinking at the water fountain and enjoying the air-con... I'm still not used to the heat!

9:35am - I'm checking my emails and answering to the ones from our German office.

10:00am - I'm preparing my meetings (internal & external ones) and a to-do list for the day.

10:30am - I'm making myself a coffee (There's coffee this time). Who else want one?

10:35am - I'm working on planned marketing campaigns (creating artworks, taglines, establishing an efficient way for tracking it, forecasting success of it and budget)

12:30-1:30pm - Lunch Time at the food court: mee-goreng or chicken rice?

2:00pm - Meeting with potential marketing partners.

3:00pm - Back to the office, I'm looking for relevant partners that can bring synergies to Helpling. 

5:00pm - I coordinate my marketing campaigns with my German colleagues that should be fully awake by now!

7:00pm - I go for a beer with some colleagues or I go home.

Apart from your day job, do you have other passion projects you are currently involved in?

Quentin: I'm a cinema enthusiast. I love watching movies (well... movies that I considered worth watching of course!). I'm also an amateur screenwriter on the side so on my free time, and when inspiration comes, I make my characters grow throughout a story.

For personal projects, I'm currently thinking of ideas that I can bring to life, as I aspire to create my own company in the next few years!

Also, to stay in touch with former basketball teammates, I'm part of a US football and a basketball fantasy leagues. It takes some time to do your weekly line-up, but it's worth it when you win your match-up and can brag about it!

Any advice for people who would like to work in a start-up company in Singapore?

Quentin: Do it. Singapore is a fast-growing city with a lot of brilliant minds starting amazing projects. Why not you? You will get responsibilities from day one, meet a lot of inspiring people within the tech scene and above all, you'll be able to take part in the growth of the company.

Bowdy is an amateur adventurer, a coffee sleepyhead, and a start-up rooter, with a penchant for classic-looking photos. At last count, he has visited some 51 countries, and is now living in Singapore. He's always in search of fascinating routines to exploit, within the limits of after-office hours and vacation leaves.

For invites, reviews, or collaboration ideas, email

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