5 Questions with Francois Schockaert, co-founder of Outlander Materials for Paris Techstars Accelerator

Jul 26, 2022

Lori Goff, Founder & CEO of Outlander Materials and Francois Schockaert, co-founder & Chief Operations of Outlander Materials

01. What is your background? Take us through the steps of becoming a founder

Lori came from biotechnology and biofuel production from waste sources. In her spare time she took up home beer brewing and eventually learned about the massive volume of waste coming from the food and beverage industry. Bridging these together, Lori developed a process of converting by-product and waste streams (like those from beer and fruit juice) into highly functional and viable solutions to plastic packaging. Seeing the incredible potential for a solution to reduce virgin resources needed for material production and the need for alternatives to plastics.

Throughout my personal career, I’ve always been involved in either teams or companies that didn’t really exist before I joined. The entrepreneurial spirit of seeing what is possible and necessary has always attracted me and been a cornerstone of my professional (and personal) life. 

02. How do you and your co-founder know each other?

We met in an online meditation class at the beginning of the corona lock-downs here in the Netherlands. 

Lori started as a solo-founder and was building her team at that time. I was at cross-roads after a decade and a half in finance and looking for a new adventure. When we spoke during one of the breakout sessions we rapidly connected on what she was doing and the opportunities that were present to build something incredible. This led to an in-person meeting over a couple of beers and within those first conversations we laid the foundation for the wonderful partnership we have today.

03. What did you enjoy most about the Paris Techstars Accelerator’s program and what are your biggest learnings?

The complete ecosystem in which we spent the whole program in. The starting point would be our MD Raphaele, the program manager (Rebecca, Zijing, Praneeth and Emma) and their dedication to our development. To me, this crystallized that we weren’t just a bunch of bright minds working on a solution to plastic waste in isolation from the real world, but on a real game changer for sustainable packaging. 

Additionally, the rest of the class. All incredible minds, passionate in what they were doing, who created a bedding for us when the going got tough and didn’t hesitate to help out whenever they could. 

And finally, working closely with the mentors has been incredible. Paris Techstars has an excellent network pool with mentors from diverse backgrounds with tangible expertise and knowledge. Being able to sparr on our specific challenges and phases with the mentors and to access their support during the program helped us significantly in taking giant leaps forward in only a few weeks.

04. What were some of the obstacles your company faced throughout the three months of the acceleration program ?

This was one of our most intensive periods as a company yet! When Techstars says they will provide us with two years of acceleration in 3 months, they weren’t kidding. The more we invested in the program, the more rewarding it became. So we were fully focused on joining the workshops, the office hours, group sessions etc, but this came on top of an extremely packed internal schedule with pilot production trials, technical roadmap structuring and filing for a patent. We were able to leverage the many resources, network, and experience of Paris Techstars and the mentors to help us with strategic actions to progress quickly and effectively through these challenges.  

05. How do you plan to measure the impact of your company in the next 5 years?

Very simple: the more material we manage to sell, less plastic ends up in our environment! This is the waste we tackle. This will additionally equate to 17,280 tons of carbon dioxide prevented from entering into the environment. 

We actively access the environmental impact of our product and processes through Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs). 

06. What is the most important lesson you’re taking away from the program?

At the beginning of the program Raphaele Leyendecker said: being an entrepreneur is a marathon, not a sprint! This means that amidst the chaos and the intensity of day-to-day, you have to take care of yourself and focus on your mental sanity. This can be incredibly challenging at times, but it is so important for the long-term success of the company. At Outlander Materials, we’re fully aligned in that, I mean, I met Lori during a meditation course, which says it all!

For the latest news on our applications, please visit our page.