5 Questions with Iheb Triki, Founder of Kumulus for Paris Techstars Accelerator

Aug 02, 2022

Iheb Triki, Founder of Kumulus, Techstars Paris Class of April 2022

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

I grew up in Tunisia, a North African country suffering (like many Mediterranean ones) from droughts and water scarcity. I then studied Engineering in Ecole Polytechnique (France) and UC Berkeley (USA). 

Following my first professional experience at the Boston Consulting Group, I started focusing on the renewable energy / water sector and spent almost 7 years working in Private Equity developing, investing and operating assets in Africa and the Middle East. 

I have always been looking for challenges and impact and I have witnessed the gaps that exist in the water sector (compared to the energy one). With my partner (Mohamed Ali), founding Kumulus has allowed us to use our full potential (being multicultural, engineering background with business/finance experience,…) in order to achieve our vision of how our world should be; while keeping the learning curve steep and exciting!

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

The “give first mentality” is rooted in TechStars network; and this is what makes TechStars an unmatched source of mentors and people from whom you learn. The Founders / CEOs lunches, the discussions with the mentors and the MD, the weekly founders story. Even in the busiest periods I enjoyed the discussions I had with each one of these persons. So, my biggest learning? “give first”, life will definitely give back and more than what you would think. 

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

When we joined TechStars, our start up just closed its first round of funding and was focusing on growing the team, stabilizing the prototype and launching the presales campaign. There was so much to do on the ground while TechStars program was very demanding and rigorous. 

The solution we found (and which brought even more benefit to us) is to consider TechStars a program for the whole team and not only the founders: our KPIs weekly table were filled by heads of units and discussed as a full team before submitting it to TechStars; our mentors sessions were attended by key team members which allowed them to learn, see the bigger picture and hence move more efficiently towards our targets.

04. Your company and teams are based in two countries. Isn’t it too early for a start up to be so spread out?

At Kumulus we believe in diversity. It goes through our roots and DNA: the two co-founders are Tunisians and French who worked and lived in 4 continents; our team of 10 full time employees has more than 7 different nationalities and we foster gender equality (in the recruitment, access to capital, flexibility for pregnant women)…). Diversity drives innovation and allows a geographic growth. 

Having our teams between Paris and Tunis is another facet of our diversity. It allows us to be present in the two sides of the Mediterranean and get the most of the laboratories, ecosystems, funding and talent pools.

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

In the next five years, we are on track to avoid the release of 51,124 tons of CO2. We will be focusing on two metrics: the number of persons drinking Kumulus water, the tons of plastic avoided (since less bottles are used) and the tons of greenhouse gases avoided (as water transportation is avoided).

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