5 Questions with Thomas Grancher, Community Leader

Jun 02, 2022

Living a double life between my real job as project owner and manager in sewage, water network, and road maintenance during the week and as a Techstars Startup Weekend facilitator on the weekend. There are many common points between my two activities: solving problems, listening to customers' needs, and being focused and agile.

I have been a site manager in public works for five years and for one year I have chosen to design and think about the project instead of building them.

I am a member of the beta class of the Techstars Community All-Stars, giving me the opportunity to discover more and more about Techstars and improve my skills.

01. How did you get involved in Techstars Startup Programs?

In 2016, whilst studying Civil Engineering in Le Havre, I was a member of a big student association and we heard about a new event that was taking place: Techstars Startup Weekend. I got involved in the organizing team and met awesome people. During the event, I tried to help the teams the best I could and I really loved the experience. During the weekend, I got in touch with inspiring people, developed new skills, and found myself.

After this first event, we organized several more Startup Weekends in Le Havre. Then I had to move away and I helped the Saint-Lô team to organize their event. Thanks to two facilitators (Lucia and Geoffrey), I had the opportunity to become a facilitator myself three years ago.

02. How have Techstars Startup Programs impacted your life?

Truly life-changing! Even though I have never participated in a Startup Weekend as an attendee or created my own business, this experience is changing my life in so many ways. During my schooling, I never heard about entrepreneurship, transversality, taking risks, and learning from it. It was always follow some rules, exams, then something else... I always felt kind of bored by this and like I wasn't at my best capacity for working and focusing. With the organisation of Techstars Startup Weekend, it really changed my vision of work; I learned agility, tried other management styles with my colleagues, and learned how to work together.

I was really shy and quite afraid when I needed to talk in front of people. After 25 Startup Weekends, I would say that anyone can see that I was afraid to talk with more than four people listening to me a few years ago. As a facilitator, I have the unique and incredible opportunity and privilege to travel to many cities and get to know wonderful people, and keep learning about so many things.

Even though every Startup Weekend is a unique experience, there are some editions that really got me. During the pandemic, we tried online Startup Weekends; once again we had to learn an all-new way of work and it was really challenging to bring people in front of their screens during a weekend. But the energy was still the same, the work was great and the networking was really efficient.

The Startup Weekend Women edition in Tours was truly a moment apart! I always believed that empowerment and leadership are genderless and this edition taught me some really good things about what to do to be an ally and an actor of mentally changing.

03. Why are you passionate about entrepreneurship?

I would say for three reasons: the impact, the journey, and the networks.

Every Startup Weekend that I have organised or facilitated has changed someone's life and I am proud to be a tiny piece of it. Even though the journey as an entrepreneur is long, this is full of learning and meetings. Entrepreneurship is hard; that's a fact, but it's also an exciting journey. Throughout this journey, it will have lows and highs. And I believe a Startup Weekend is a concentration of it!

During those events, I can meet a lot of wonderful people, more and more inspiring, with a multitude of profiles. Getting to know every attendee, mentor, jury member, and organizing team member is really fascinating and I only wish I could spend more time with everyone to learn more from them.

I truly believe that being an entrepreneur is wanting to have an impact on our society. With major challenges that come to us, having an impact is really important and this is what I am most passionate about. Startup Weekends have an impact on people and society. By encouraging the empowerment of every human as a person full of competencies and skills, we are improving our society.

04. How else are you involved in your community's startup ecosystem?

Apart from being a Techstars facilitator, I am involved as a secretary and facilitator in HackSoul, which is an association about connecting people in health. To do so, we organize Hacking Health every year in Normandy to accelerate the connection between big poles of health. We are focused on human design and prototypes.

I am also a member of ilo21, an association of entrepreneurs in Saint-Lô. We try to energize the local ecosystem and try to find new businesses to help and accelerate.

With the support of Sorawi Phongsakonsunthon, I have had the chance to connect with new organizing teams and I try the best I can to promote Startup Weekend everywhere I go.

05. What's next for your community's entrepreneurship ecosystem?

I am pretty convinced that entrepreneurship is the future of our society and I bet that we will need it more than ever after the two years we've been through. I hope that more and more Startup Weekends will take place involving our youth — why not a teenage Startup Weekend or day? Give trust and strength to the youth; they need to see how good they are and they need to try!

With all the challenges that come to us, we definitely need a big revolution in health, sustainability, and food. We will need more and more entrepreneurs and this will be so exciting to help them to start and grow!

More personally, I would love to keep learning about humans and how to help the community anywhere I can go. I hope to have the opportunity to go facilitate abroad and facilitate a Startup Week. The journey has only begun!