Martin Ouellet was the founder of Taleo Corporation, a global leader in HR management software and a provider of cloud-based talent management. He led growth, funding, and web application development in the early years. Later, as CTO, Martin led product design, strategy, and development; he was also a member of Taleo’s Board of Directors from 1996 to 2005. He exited through a $1.9 billion acquisition from Oracle this year.
Now, Martin is now the founder and president of Genia, a social gaming startup. He's also an active angel investor.
Mr. Ouellet recalled its Quebec City startup experience at Accelerate MTL 2012 this week. Ouellet admitted he had a humble beginning, but he was wise to meet the right people.
At the start, Taleo had only $3,000 of revenue per month and $280,000 in debt. However, he had the chance to meet star entrepreneur Charles Sirois, who introduced him to successful entrepreneur Louis Têtu. Louis was the founder and CEO of supply-chain management Berclain Group, which was sold to BAAN. Mr. Têtu later became an angel investor and the CEO of Taleo.
In order to get Taleo's first big customer, Bombardier, Ouellet recalls this anecdote: “Bombardier wanted to do a due diligence in few days. I said okay, come to my office. Taleo had a quick growth followed by a tough period: the number of employees reached eight, only to return to one. So I asked some former employees and friends to pretend they were my employees at my office for one day." It worked: Bombardier became a customer and finally trusted the vision of Ouellet.
A good lesson to entrepreneurs from Ouellet: always be willing to stretch the system in order to survive, whether it is getting a new customer, a new investor, or paying your obligations. Ouellet then hired back the employees and Taleo grew fast.
Another pieve of advice from Ouellet to founders: don’t hesitate to give up your CEO title when the company would benefit from a stronger leader. It paid off handsomely for Ouellet.
He also recommends that, while there is money to be raised in Canada, a trip or two to America may still be necessary. “There is now a growing numbers of angels investors network across Canada," he explains. "It is now easier for entrepreneurs to raise money. However, in very fast growing companies, it is still difficult to raise in Canada a dozen of millions in one financing round. You have to reach US investors.”
Martin Ouellet’s new startup, Genia, is a Quebec-based independent developer and publisher of social MMO games with a visionary spin on online gaming. The firm aims to be at the crossroads of entertainment, technology and art, creating games that empower both individual and collective knowledge. Their mission is to enrich the gaming experience with a spark of intelligence and provide players with more lasting rewards by leading them to a "revolutionary new genre" - knowledge-powered games - that require the gathering and utilization of real-world knowledge to advance in-game.
And it must have been deliberate that Martin, who as we mentioned sold Taleo to Oracle, named his first game "Rise of the Oracle."