5 Questions with Caroline Franczia, Mentor in Residence at Techstars Sustainability Paris Accelerator

Mar 21, 2023

Caroline Woussen-Franczia is an Entrepreneur, Advisor, Author, and Speaker who founded Uppercut First.

She possesses extensive knowledge in sales techniques and go-to-market strategies, gained through her years of experience as a sales director in various organizations. Currently, Caroline specializes in revenue architecture for start-ups and scale-ups, collaborating with the C-suite from marketing to product to sales to help companies grasp complex selling and go-to-market strategies.

Moreover, Caroline is an accomplished speaker, an award-winning author of the business book "Popcorn for the New CEO", and a proactive board advisor and mentor.

01. What are you looking for in startups when accepting to become a Mentor?

As a mentor for startups, I look for a few key factors when considering whether to accept an offer to work with a company. First and foremost, I want to make sure there is a strong alignment between what the startup is looking for and my own areas of expertise. This ensures that I can offer valuable insights and advice that will help the company succeed. Another important factor is the commitment and drive of the entrepreneur or team behind the startup. It's essential that they are passionate about their work and dedicated to achieving their goals, as this will help them navigate the inevitable challenges that arise during the startup journey. In addition to these more practical considerations, I also look for a good personality fit. Building a strong working relationship requires mutual trust and respect, so it's important that we have a rapport and can communicate effectively with one another.

Finally, as a mentor for Techstars Sustainability Paris, I'm particularly interested in working with startups that are focused on sustainability. This is a rapidly growing field with enormous potential for positive impact, and I find it fascinating!

02. What are some of the biggest learnings from your career and entrepreneurial journey that you bring as a Techstars Mentor? 

As a Techstars Mentor, I bring a wealth of experience gained over my career and entrepreneurial journey. Over the course of my 15-year career, I have focused on complex B2B sales, working with both American companies and more recently European ones. This has given me a deep understanding of how to apply a well-crafted go-to-market strategy with a methodology to the European market, as well as other markets across the globe. I have worked with companies with 20k ACV and brought them to close million+ deals within just 18 months. I achieved this by leveraging my skills in B2B sales techniques and methodologies, as well as my creative thinking skills to create awareness and traction without significant spending. Building Uppercut First has also taught me valuable lessons that I bring to the table as a Techstars mentor, and I'm excited to share them with the startups I work with.

03. What is your favorite thing about the Sustainability/Paris startup scene?

My favorite thing about the Sustainability/Paris startup scene is the collaborative network. I enjoy being involved in cutting-edge technology that supports sustainability and contributing to it, even if it's from the sidelines. Additionally, I love meeting passionate entrepreneurs and helping them scale their impact and increase their capacity to generate revenue.

04. Describe a situation with a startup founder or team where you felt like you made a difference. 

I have had the opportunity to assist various startup founders and teams in different ways, such as helping them with their value proposition, positioning, and approaching prospects in a unique way. One experience that stands out to me was when I worked with a startup's founders to prepare for an important meeting where they needed to present their value. We focused on identifying the problem-market fit, refining their positioning, and creating urgency and a compelling reason for action to move a deal forward. Through our collaboration, I was able to help the founders gain confidence in their worth and hold their ground during the meeting.

05. What would you share with startups and startup alumni?

As advice for startups and startup alumni, it's suggested to focus on problem market fit instead of product market fit. This means identifying the problem you're solving and how it impacts your prospects' cost, revenue, and reputation. When approaching a prospect, it's important to avoid just pitching your product and instead try to understand their problem and how you can provide a solution. Active listening is crucial in this process. While it may be easy to understand this concept in theory, it can be challenging to apply it consistently in your day-to-day work. By positioning yourself as a problem solver, you can make your path easier.

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