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Nicolas Vieville: An entrepreneurial adventure made in the USA

12 January 2024 Portraits / Podcasts

Nicolas VIEVILLE (TBS Education 2020) entered the Master's program in Management and Business Administration at TBS Education in 2017. Following his M1, he chose to take a gap year, which enabled him to complete two six-month internships. It was at this point that he began an international career, without really knowing it.

For his first internship, Nicolas began his search only to go to Germany. He changed his mind to follow his dream of going to the United States. He took his time to think things over and sounded out the people around him before embarking on this exciting project. For several months, he relentlessly sent out applications and approached companies. He received one rejection after another, and applications were left unanswered... In June 2018, Nicolas received a positive response!

In August, he began his internship in New York at Overseas Food as a Sales and Demo Specialist. A very formative internship for him, he developed new skills and fully discovered this new culture. His main missions were to promote a new product line that was in the process of being launched, in particular through canvassing. This was a first for him, and enabled him to strengthen his position by taking a step back. It was during this period that his desire to live in the USA was confirmed.

At the end of this experience, in January 2019, Nicolas returned to France for his second internship at General Mills in Paris. This time, he held the position of Merchandising Assistant. It was a second internship he really enjoyed, but one in which he felt more restricted and limited.

In September 2019, Nicolas will start his M2 program, which he has chosen to do in conjunction with a Master's degree in Business Administration in Canada. His goal: an MBA, an internationally recognized qualification. So he flies to Quebec to take his classroom courses. Unfortunately, his second semester was complicated by the arrival of COVID-19. The borders closed and Nicolas decided to return to France. Nicolas validates his Masters. His desire to return to the USA never left him. He looked into the various possibilities open to him and decided to return.

He moves to San Diego in 2021, but his visa doesn't allow him to work right away. A few months later, a friend whom he had met on an Erasmus exchange in Stockholm before coming to TBS Education, and who now also lives in San Diego, tells him about a start-up project he would like to co-found with him.

Nicolas took some time to think it over, but finally agreed, as he didn't want to have any regrets about missing out on this entrepreneurial experience worthy of an American Dream. His friend has the technical skills of an engineer, and Nicolas the business, administration and management skills.

Together, they created Performant Manufacturing, a hardware engineering service company. Their services are mainly aimed at companies involved in the development of "automated systems" for various purposes: biotechnology, medical, food automation, etc. Their strength lies in having a team made up of both engineers and technicians, capable of working on the design part, in conjunction with customer teams; and the prototype/construction part. The team focuses mainly on electrical and mechanical engineering, but is also increasingly called upon for software programming. Their main strengths are speed, flexibility and quality. They act as a back-up for companies that don't have the in-house capabilities or the time. A common joke in the industry is "When do you need this for? Yesterday.

Their customers also include entrepreneurs needing more guidance along the tortuous path of product development, and artists in need of technical advice and machinery to realize visually consistently interesting projects.

Nicolas takes care of the business, management and administration side, while discovering this new, highly technical field. The duo soon grew into a team of 7. Although his training has been useful, learning on the job has been all the more important. The American business world is very different from the one he learned in France. Responsible for marketing and communications, Nicolas immersed himself in the world of social media, particularly Instagram and even TikTok, which were relatively unknown to him until now. He then realized one thing: "in the life of an entrepreneur, Google quickly becomes your best friend."

Nicolas notes a second important point in the process of setting up a business: documenting everything. This was a real key for him. What he learns and/or achieves, he writes down in the moment, then organizes folders in Google Drive. That way, if he needs it again later, everything is easy to find. It's a considerable time-saver, which also enables him to delegate to new team members - an important thing, especially in a growth phase.

For Nicolas, the world of business in the USA is very different from that in France. He notes that the default answer to a customer query is often "yes", and that companies find a way to deliver; whereas in France, he remembers "no" more. He also notes that age and qualifications are a little less important than in France for career advancement.

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