We talked to Tommy Roch Querton of atlasGO on how they are organizing virtual races and events for charity around the world.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tommy Roch Querton: Happy, healthy & grateful!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded atlasGO.
Tommy Roch Querton: I was born in Belgium. I started my first company when I was 17. I built a tool that helped you fold your clothes. It wasn’t great. A few years later, I started a clothing company with 2 good friends. We designed and manufactured personalized clothes for schools and universities. We were students, so we knew our market and our audience. After 3 years, we had salespeople around Belgium and were making good money for young students living at our parents’ house. This gave me the confidence to dream bigger: “What if I could start a company that I could see myself working at for the rest of my life? What if I could combine profits with purpose?”
During this reflective time, I had the privilege to meet Pr. Muhammad Yunus (Nobel peace prize) and traveled with him to Uganda to meet other social entrepreneurs. During this time, I also started running and experienced a “Eureka” moment at the 20Km of Brussels: “I wanted to grow a community of sweaty changemakers!” Use tech for good and develop products that would help people be healthy, do good, and take action together. This was the first step towards moving to San Francisco and starting atlasGO.
The starting blocks for atlasGO happened in San Francisco during a Master’s program in Social Entrepreneurship. This is where I met Magali Mathieur and Olivier Kaeser, with whom we incorporated the company under similar values and an aligned vision “Growing the leading wellness for good movement in the world!” Today we are a team of 15, growing our impact in Europe and the United States and organizing hundreds of virtual races and events for charity around the world. In December of 2017, we got certified as a B Corporation and Benefit Corporation and joined hundreds of companies around the world using business as a force for good.
How does atlasGO innovate?
Tommy Roch Querton: We organize virtual races for nonprofits to help with their fundraising needs (www.virtualrace.org) and digital employee engagement campaigns for companies seeking a new way to keep their employees healthy and engaged (www.atlasgo.org). We are the only platform on the market that offer a custom registration page, an engaging mobile app, and peer to peer fundraising all integrated into the same platform. So we are proud to continue innovating from our nonprofit and corporate partners’ needs as we make an impact in this world. We also innovate with the activities we offer our clients. We have over 100 activities to choose from to make each challenge unique; some examples: reading, cooking, painting, learning a new language, gardening, and many more, each of them focused on helping you self-improve.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tommy Roch Querton: atlasGO has grown heavily since Covid. We organize virtual events for nonprofits and companies. Physical events around the world are canceled, and virtual events are the new normal. This has been a big boost to our growth. We have helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations launch virtual events to engage their donors and keep on raising funds during the pandemic. Our Employee Engagement solution for corporations became very attractive as companies are looking for solutions to keep their employees healthy, happy, and connected during times where everyone is working from home.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tommy Roch Querton: The difficulty of the last couple of months has been to keep up with the company’s growth. It’s all very positive for the company, but it was sometimes hard to keep up with the growing number of users, clients, and new team members. Overall we are very happy and proud of the atlasGO team that stood up to the challenge and were able to come out of these times stronger. Today we are ready to scale. I think the biggest lesson is the importance of culture. During the difficult times, we could really see how a value driven team can do wonders! This is the strength of our team and will be our biggest asset in the coming years. An important reminder to continue to develop and clarify your values, mission, and vision!
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and atlasGO in the future?
Tommy Roch Querton: Cold showers and meditation. We plan on building something big and taking the time to do it right!
Your final thoughts?
Tommy Roch Querton: Be stubborn with your vision and flexible with the details on how you get there!