12 Years, 12 Stories — Why we hired an advisor: meeting Sebastien
It’s never easy to bring someone from outside your company into the fold. Especially when you run a group as tight-knit as Untile. A lot of what makes it feel unique to both customers and the people who work at Untile is the closeness and familiarity that the founders have embedded into the company’s DNA.
And yet, the world would beckon for them sooner, rather than later.
We sat down with Ricardo Correia, co-founder and head of business development at Untile and Sebastien Toupy, who recently came in as an outside advisor.
“We went to Amsterdam in 2018 because we wanted to understand what everyone else is doing, both competitors and other agencies. We wanted to figure out what was happening in Europe, what were the next top subjects. We planned on attending the Zero-In Conference, listening a lot and maybe doing some networking. Sebastien approached us, actually, to see what we were up to.”
Making chance work for us
Sebastien had been working with startups for six years, and he had made it a habit of approaching entrepreneurs and people he realised were in the business sectors he was interested in. Networking is a skill, and at the time he was pitching The Next Web Conference. He enjoyed speaking to the Untile founders, and he asked them if they were interested in attending the next edition of the conference.
“There was a huge difference in the way the Untile guys spoke to me. When part of your job is network building, which was my case at the time, you become used to people always speaking in the same ways. It’s all very salesy. People only want to speak to whoever has funds, or decision-making power. When I spoke to Ricardo, I saw there was potential and value there. He wasn’t trying to sell me anything.”
At this time, Untile was just testing the waters. They were figuring out how to make the company ready for growth in a way that was sustainable and in keeping with the company’s principles. Sebastien wasn’t looking for a job either. He was happy with where he was.
But both parties kept each other in mind.
And on LinkedIn as well.
Location. Timing. Skillset.
These are the three characteristics that Sebastien seeked to evaluate when figuring out the companies he would like to work with. After at TNW for a number of years, he decided to branch out on his own, and start putting all the skills and knowledge he acquired to good use.
And then he and Ricardo got to talking.
“I thought there was a lot I could bring to the table. I came in on an advisory role, to help Untile open up their network. They have a number of truly excellent pieces already in place, and now they need to understand how to work on their business proposition to get projects in and understand what their clients’ needs are.”
Untile was just finishing their rebranding, and they were ready to embrace new challenges and grow, from their small city and true sanctuary in Viana do Castelo, to the world.
“We have always done things and made big decisions when things feel exactly right. We aren’t in a rush, and we aren’t dawdling either. We took a good hard look at where we were, in terms of our team, our company, our methods, and we knew: this is the time to take things to the next level.”
Building a plan for Untile’s future
Sebastien knows what he sees in Untile.
“We are taking baby steps, making sure we make the right decisions. My participation for the moment is relatively light, but I feel like my job is all about putting the structure in place to shift gears in the coming months. Untile is already working with Happyfact, which are heavily focused on growth. That’s good. Now we need to change the mindset, flip that switch.”
Ricardo smiles as he listens to all this talk of the future. He started his company with the other three founders from an office with no windows they call “the bunker”. Now he’s listening to Sebastien speak of how to take their company to the world. Sebastien is working the ground in Amsterdam, gathering projects, making them known to product agencies.
Twelve years ago, it started. Now, it all starts anew.