We talked to Céline Degreef of Yumana on how to empower people and scale projects and this is what she had to say.
First, how are you doing in these COVID-19 times?
Céline Degreef: We are all fine, thank you, I hope you too. 2020 is a great year. On the one hand, for me, it will remain the year of Yumana’s birth, and on the other hand. What a year! I nevertheless feel quite lucky, and speaking of Yumana, we managed to organize ourselves with sanitary constraints and manage customers and projects from home. I think for all the people who suffered or who will suffer from this crisis’s consequences.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Yumana.
Céline Degreef: Well, I started my career in the consulting field for several years, at PwC, then Deloitte, and I had then a wonderful experience with the LVMH Group for three years. I had an intrapreneurial project in my mind during my LVMH experience, but it did not happen for some reason. I finally decided to become an entrepreneur by founding MyCrowdCompany in 2014. In 2018, MyCrowdCompany became the digital platform for intrapreneurs. It enables companies to promote and implement their intrapreneurship programs. From the call for ideas to the funding and acceleration of projects, one objective is to transform the creativity of their intrapreneurs into a proper lever for innovation.
At the beginning of 2020, I had the feeling that intrapreneurship was at a turning point. I met Ofer Attali (CEO of Ayno), and we both decided to change scale and merge to become Yumana as we realized how complementary we were. I am now the happy CEO of this 22 people great startup, delighted to look ahead and fight for change within the companies, for a more collaborative, inclusive, and innovative society.
How does Yumana innovate?
Céline Degreef: Our solutions are both futures of work-oriented. Yumana allows companies to turn ideas into projects with certainty. Whether by creating and leading ideation challenges, managing their entire collaborative innovation process, or supporting them in developing their intrapreneurship program, Yumana helps companies reinvent themselves collectively from within and find value-creating solutions.
But in addition to the Innovation SaaS solution, Yumana is also dealing with solidarity. In companies, the question of employee commitment to solidarity becomes a vital issue. Yumana, by enabling the structuring of solidarity programs, truly anchors solidarity commitment at the heart of its values. We help companies take their CSR initiatives to the next level and make their employees’ real, sustainable change actors.
Yumana innovates by reinventing itself. We are always on the move, improving our clients’ platform, adding new features, or thinking about tomorrow’s SaaS solution. This year, we even said Yumana’s value offering a consulting proposition to support our clients even more in their innovation or solidarity journey.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Céline Degreef: We are not directly victims of the coronavirus at Yumana, because most of the companies we work with have been able to react and adapt to the health situation. For example, Schneider Electric has adapted its skills sponsorship program by only offering digital assignments on their digital platform. They have also added some specific remote features to facilitate these digital missions as much as possible.
Yumana is also a digital and agile company, both lockdowns were challenges, but we have been able to keep our teams’ commitment at their maximum.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Yumana in the future?
Céline Degreef: At Yumana, we make innovation happens. So if we are not able to deal with the unexpected, who can? It was not easy, but as I said, most of our clients understood that it’s mostly during times of crisis that you have to reinvent yourself. From a solidarity point of view, I felt there were two viruses: a killer one and the virus of engagement. I’ve never seen society as concerned with solidarity. It gives hope, I must say!
Concerning Yumana’s future, we are currently the France leader in our market segment, and Ofer and I have the project to expand Yumana’s solutions within Europe. We would also like to carry on our internal development. We already made a few recruitments this year, and I hope this paves the way for even more growth in 2021.
Who are your competitors? And what makes you different from them?
Céline Degreef: Yumana is the French SaaS employee engagement number one turnkey solution. We succeeded in developing two platforms. One dedicated to collaborative innovation and intrapreneurship program and the other to solidarity and volunteering. As technical experts, we have no competitors in the double segment. We compete with companies that offer collaborative or intrapreneurship innovation platforms and then with companies that provide digital solidarity solutions. Our solution is more functional than our competitors, and we have excellent customer feedback concerning the ergonomic and design of Yumana’s solution. We also do a bit more than developing a tech solution. We also support our clients, co-building their program.