From Founder to Product Manager: Bruno's story
🤓 Are you a founder looking for your next challenge in the healthcare industry? We are starting a series of stories of ex-founders who decided to join Alan.
🎤 Today meet Bruno Vegreville, an entrepreneur who joined Alan as a Product Manager.
After spending 2 years as a Product Manager in a start-up focused on improving clinical trials, Bruno decided to launch his own start-up, Hera in an industry he deeply cares about: productivity.
Along with his co-founder, they spent 2 years building the next generation of calendars apps to help users take control of their time. Hera went through Y Combinator in the summer of 2021.
Bruno decided to join Alan in 2022 after making the tough decision to shut down Hera.
Bruno was born and raised in Annecy. He has a wonderful 1-year old daughter, and he is an absolute fan of Albert Camus. He reads the same novels every year.
Bruno told his story in this Q&A video. Check out the transcript below if you’d rather read about it!
Alan : Why did you decide to join Alan after your experience as a Founder?
Bruno Vegreville : As a founder, I found it challenging to envision myself in a company that wasn't mine. So, I was very intentional in my search for the right company. I was specifically looking for a company that met the following criteria: 1) a strong focus on product development, 2) in the healthcare industry, 3) with a local presence in France, 4) global ambitions, and 5) slightly beyond the initial stage of product-market fit. By applying these criteria, I narrowed down the list of potential companies to a select few, and Alan was one of them. Thomas Rolf - Alan’s Product Lead - reached out to me on LinkedIn and a few weeks later, after an extensive hiring process, I was sold!
A. : Before joining Alan, what were your concerns or worries ?
B.V. : My biggest concern when considering joining the company was its size, as I had only worked in companies with less than 20 employees before. The idea of working for a company with 500 people seemed daunting to me. Specifically, I was concerned about how fast the company would move and whether it would still be able to innovate effectively. I wondered what the decision-making process would be like at such a large company.
However, months later, I'm relieved to say that my concerns have been addressed, largely due to the culture at Alan. The fact that we are a distributed team makes it easy to iterate quickly without having to involve everyone in the company. Despite our size, I feel that we remain very agile.To illustrate this, let me give you an example. Just three months after I joined Alan, our team was able to offer a digital Tiers-Payant card to our members that was valid for an entire year, as opposed to just one month. Within a week, we were able to implement this improvement and release it to our hundreds of thousands of members.
A. : Have the skills you developed as a founder been useful in your new role at Alan?
B.V. : Yes, my experience as a founder has been extremely useful in my role at Alan, giving me a headstart when joining the company. Two main skills that I developed as a founder have proven valuable in my new role.
The first skill is having a bias towards action and a high level of agency. At Alan, there is a strong culture of improving things around you, and this is a natural mindset for me. For example, after just a few weeks at Alan, I identified a few areas for improvement in our onboarding process and was able to implement changes despite my short tenure.
The second skill is being a jack of all trades, master of some. As a founder, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty and work in different roles. Having a basic knowledge of various roles helps you collaborate more effectively with different teams at Alan. For a Product Manager at Alan, being knowledgeable in product analytics (such as Amplitude), specs (such as Figma), and finance (including margin, LTV/CAC, and cost of goods sold) is a big plus and makes the job exciting.
A. : How has working at Alan differed from your experience as a founder?
B.V. : One of the main differences I've noticed between working at Alan and running my own startup is the talent density. At Alan, there are experts in various fields, so I can rely more on my colleagues to get the job done, instead of trying to do everything myself. For instance, I was surprised at how business savvy our data scientists are, and how product-minded our engineers are.
There is inevitably more process at a larger company like Alan, but I appreciate that the company has a big internal drive to keep the process as light as possible. The goal is to maximize our time building a great product for our members.
Another difference is that Alan has helped me build the muscle of long-term thinking, which I might not have developed as aggressively in my startup. I like that we need to balance our short-term goals with our long-term vision for the company. It's important to consider what we want to achieve over the next few years, while also planning for what we want to accomplish in the next quarter or week.
A. : What are your main learnings from your experience at Alan ?
B.V. : I have three major learnings from my time at Alan. The first one is the lack of surprise, basically! Alan spends a lot of time describing its culture to the outside; to the point that it's actually very accurate. After two months on the job, I was already surprised that it's not so different from what I've read outside as a candidate.
Secondly, I have a lot of control over my time due to the low number of meetings. Although there is still a lot of information to process, I can choose what to work on at any given time, which is a blessing. As a Product Manager, I spend a maximum of 3 to 5 hours in 1-on-1s and meetings per week, which is remarkably low.
The third learning is the extensive knowledge that almost every Alaner has over the business. I can approach anyone in the cafeteria and they will know the number of members we have, our gross margin, and our objectives for the coming year. I have never seen this level of knowledge in any other company.
A. : Would you recommend joining Alan to ex-founders?
B.V. : Yes, definitely! I think the first point is that Alan is a masterclass of scaling a company without diluting the culture. I believe it’s very important for anyone building a company at some point. When I joined Alan, I was mesmerized by how proud Alaners are of being Alaners, and how everyone is willing to help you ramp up in Alan's way of working.
Also, I find very relevant for founders is that individuals who take initiatives and strive to make improvements are highly rewarded in the company. If you see something that can be done better, there's no one stopping you from making it happen. Something I also appreciate is the level of business maturity at Alan. At least on my side, I've learned a lot from the leadership at Alan around the unit economics of our business. We have a monthly financial review where we deep dive in our numbers (growth, churn, margin) to adjust our projections and course-correct if needed. I think that's something a lot of founders would be interested in and find valuable.
A. : What advice can you give to founders joining a company after founding a startup ?
B.V. : When looking for a company to join, I had a key criteria: I wanted to see myself there for at least a decade. I felt that if I didn’t carefully choose the right company to join, I might find myself quitting after just six months to start another company. Therefore, I found it crucial to be very selective during the hiring process. Another important aspect is being clear on what you don't want in terms of work setup or topics. For me, returning to healthcare was a must because I thrive in that industry. Ultimately, it was vital for me to focus on ownership. After having a broad scope as a founder, it's tough to go back to a narrower sense of ownership. Therefore, I suggest looking for companies that value growing ownership over time. Alan is undoubtedly one of those companies.
– If you are a founder and this story resonated with you, don't hesitate to reach out! We’d love to chat 😊