A Conversation with Mathilde Collin, CEO and Co-Founder of Front
Mathilde Collin is the CEO and co-founder of Front, a SaaS platform to route, respond to, and measure customer conversations. Front is a Top 50 company that has raised more than $138 million in venture capital funding. Front has more than 200 employees and has offices located in San Francisco, California, and Paris, France.
Creating a product or service that genuinely fulfills customers' needs and seeking early customer feedback is crucial for achieving product-market fit.
Establishing a metric-driven culture that sets clear goals and promotes accountability helps measure real progress and identify areas for improvement.
Authenticity and self-awareness are key in leadership. The importance of fostering genuine connections with team members helps in creating a cohesive work environment.
Help people work happier. It really is that simple for Mathilde Collin, CEO and co-founder of Front. In a recent conversation with Mathilde, Redbud VC founders had the opportunity to chat with her about her entrepreneurial journey and discover the pivotal elements that led to Front’s success. Mathilde's transparent and open demeanor set the tone for a conversation filled with wisdom, highlighting the importance of discipline, product-market fit, and staying true to one's motivations.
Mathilde kicked off the conversation by diving into a product-market fit. She highlighted the importance of staying focused and disciplined. She shared a lesson from Y Combinator that resonated deeply with her: "Make something people want." Initially, this seemed like an obvious statement, but Mathilde soon realized its profound significance. In the early stages of building a company, the primary goal should be creating a product or service that genuinely fulfills customers' needs. That means getting in front of customers as soon as possible, even if it's imperfect. Mathilde suggests founders should avoid thinking of product-market fit as a binary concept. While reaching milestones like a million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) and experiencing consistent growth are positive signs, it's crucial to acknowledge that not every industry, team, or company size will be a perfect fit.
“The sooner you can get your product in front of customers and ask the right questions, the better. Make them pay for it, if it makes sense for your business so that you know how valuable it is for them."
At Front, Mathilde led with a disciplined approach to measuring the company’s progress. Setting a goal to increase MRR by 20-25% on a weekly basis, they created a metric-driven culture where everyone was aligned and accountable. Mathilde emphasized the importance of honesty and self-reflection when the metric didn't meet their expectations. Instead of hastily changing the metric, they dug deep to understand the reasons behind it and made informed adjustments to steer themselves back on track.
"If you're not in line with and clear about your motivations, it will backfire. Your team won't find you genuine. I deeply care about impact. I feel like I've been very lucky.”
Authenticity played a significant role in Mathilde's journey. She openly shared her initial lack of passion for customer communication and her internal struggle. However, she discovered that her motivation came from solving a significant problem for customers rather than personal enthusiasm for the specific domain. Mathilde stressed the importance of founders truly understanding their motivations and aligning them with their company's mission. This self-awareness fosters genuine leadership and creates a cohesive team dynamic, as team members recognize and appreciate the founder's authenticity.
"I ask founders, like, what's the deep down? Why are you doing this? And I would just encourage everyone in this school and everyone starting a company to have a really good answer for themselves."
Mathilde's emphasis on discipline, early customer focus, and continuous product-market fit refinement highlights the key factors contributing to Front’s success. Mathilde has built a company that prioritizes customer needs and creates a positive work environment. Whether it’s inside Front or outside facing their customers, it is clear that Front is truly helping people work happier.
Redbud VC is an early-stage venture capital fund and studio investing monetary and social capital in early-stage tech founders.