Read the dream of Georges Henri
What was your dream when you were little?
I wanted to be a movie director − I’ve always been passionate about cinema and fascinated about telling stories and creating movies.
How has your dream evolved?
I worked on several small movies, but nothing really to share... My dream has definitely changed. In fact, I think our dreams are continually evolving: the more experiences you have, the things you want to achieve change and evolve. I haven’t become a movie director (not yet, at least) − but I’m definitely still passionate, and my passion now is creating projects and bringing them to life.
What do you do now?
Now I’m working with, and supporting, technology companies and trying to build new companies. I work for a company called Index Ventures, one of the largest risk capital firms in the world, based in Geneva. We invest in and support early-stage technology companies, mainly in Europe and the USA. We try to help transform promising start-ups into large enterprises.
We invest in companies that we feel have great potential for developing a new product or service that is truly disruptive and can change the way people consume or work. The companies can be e-commerce, software, mobile, apps, all kinds of things. The common thread throughout the companies is technology: how can you use technology to disrupt an industry and build something great. Examples of companies we’ve supported are Skype and BlaBlaCar.
How does your financing work?
My company works in venture capital and equity, which means that we’re among the first institutional investors in a new company. Previously, their financing came from friends and family, or perhaps from business angels. So we try to accelerate the company’s growth by taking a share of the ownership and, in exchange, providing capital and support, working very closely with the company.
How did you get started in this business?
I was running my own technology company before − an online marketplace − and that got me very interested in building, or helping to build, great companies that could really change an industry. I also like working with passionate people − and entrepreneurs are very passionate about their new product or service. They’re very inspiring people to work with. Starting a venture is very uncertain, but it is extremely exciting when you manage to realise your vision!
What did you study?
I studied Economics at Louvain-la-Neuve, and then I followed the Masters in Financial Management at Vlerick, in Ghent, graduating in 2009.
How do you see your future?
As I’ve said, I really like the fact that my dream is constantly evolving − it would be sad to achieve my dream by age 29 and have no other dreams to achieve. I like the hunger of always trying to achieve more and bigger things. I suppose my ultimate ambition is to have the freedom and resources to build the projects I’m passionate about.
Has Vlerick contributed to realising your dream?
I am now part of the Vlerick alumni community. The name and reputation of the school adds credibilty to your own. Being an alumnus and mentioning the school facilitates reaching your goals.
Do you have any particular fond memories of the year at Vlerick?
Yes. What I most enjoyed about my year at Vlerick was that it was an extremely intellectually stimulating year. What’s great about the programme is learning about how finance works in − and impacts − the real world. And the timing of my Masters − the year between 2008 and 2009, in the middle of the sub-prime financial crisis − made it all the more fascinating!
Do you stay in touch with some of your fellow participants?
Yes − some of my best friends are from the Vlerick programme. When I got married, my best man was the person I shared an apartment with during the Masters programme.
What is the key message you want people to take away from your personal story?
Be patient − I think we have a tendency in my generation to feel like we need to succeed quickly in everything we do; certainly in the sector I work in, we always want to see the start-ups succeed really quickly. I don’t believe in ‘overnight success’ − when you dig into the story behind the success, you usually find that there was a long period of hard work, it was just behind the scenes. So yes, we need to be passionate in what we’re doing, and we also need to be patient about seeing results.
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