Philippe Corrot (Mirakl): “Entrepreneurship is a team sport”
In 2020, the e-commerce software company became the 14th French unicorn, thanks to a $300 million fundraising. We spoke to its CEO, Philippe Corrot.
Leaders league: Why did you build your business around e-commerce software?
Philippe Corrot: Mirakl is my fourth business in all. After working in retail and IT, I came to the conclusion that I could better exploit the internet to do business. Adrien Nussenbaum and I got into e-commerce with Splitgames, an online marketplace for video-games. It was not a success, and we were forced to go back to the drawing board. We studied existing e-commerce models, poring over the annual reports of companies like Amazon and Alibaba, and came to the conclusion that the right fit for us was to take a more classical approach, a B to C market-place, with sellers selected for the quality of their service.
Since then, our company has seen extremely strong growth. It was purchased by [French retail chain] Fnac who used it for their e-commerce site. For our next company, Mirakl, we decided to develop a platform as software company.
How did you go about finding the right staff?
The common point all people joining Mirakl share is a deep conviction that the platform can change commerce for the better. Some of our staff are dedicated to a single marketplace. Even when the were working for the biggest companies, such as Amazon or Airbnb, they were attracted by the possibility of being able to develop products all over the world and on a range of subjects. Today we have 300 clients spread across 40 countries and have a higher profile, which helps when seeking to attract the best and brightest. We train our teams, and those of our clients, on how to get the most out of our solutions. In addition, we have established the Mirakl Academy, and written books on best practices.
And what are they?
For an e-commerce platform to function well, everything must be arranged around bringing the client the best service. In the internet age, you are just a click away from a customer, but the customer is also just a click away from your competition, and if they can find the same product cheaper elsewhere, or with faster delivery, then the chances are they are not going to buy from you.
"These days, having the right product is only part of the equation"
So as you can see, these days having the right product is only part of the equation; it also has to have the right price and come with the best quality service. Given that a platform operator does not have direct control over the quality of the products themselves, they must assure that their service is top notch – and for that certain tools exist.
How does Mirakl function?
For me, entrepreneurship is a team sport. There may be a captain, but everyone has a key role to play. The people who work for Mirakl are passionate, curious, in tune with the latest developments and willing to experiment. What would be the point in trying to rein them in? We apply this innovative philosophy throughout our company, and it shows.
What type of boss do you strive to be?
I always try to promote entrepreneurial values, constantly question myself, be a multi-tasker and a true team-player. I like to put my staff in the best position possible for them to thrive, and am always satisfied when I hear them speak in public about their Mirakl story.
As a boss, it is the easiest thing in the world to dismiss or overrule the ideas of your staff. And even in this day and age there are a lot of old school firms that take a top-down approach. But for me, a leader is someone who gives others the right-of-way, encouraging them to reach their potential. Even though we have a low staff turnover, I consider it a success when someone leaves to start their own business. It can be a nightmare at times, being the boss, but it shows passion. And passion is infectious.
What are the essential elements of successful leadership?
I am very attached to ethics and equality. A prerequisite for being a good boss is to change your company for the better and surround yourself with a variety of talent. Mirakl operates in 40 countries, and so it would be a mistake if we didn’t take a global approach in a globalized world. It is a fact of life and you must take note of subjects such as cultural difference, in order to develop a successful product, which is, when you get down to it, the number one priority for any company.
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