In this episode, we speak to Laure Guilbaud, founder of green marketplace TEORRA, about time management, upskilling through networking and more!
When building her business KYND, a sustainable swimwear and activewear brand, Laure Guildbaud realised that she struggled to ensure that all parts of the supply chain were green – specifically packaging. Thus, TEORRA was born. It’s a sustainable marketplace for all your needs. In this episode, Laure talks about green entrepreneurship, from juggling multiple priorities to learning through networking. Listen to this insightful podcast here.
In this conversation, we learnt…
– What is TEORRA and its conceptualisation (03:11- 5:12)
– How her time at LinkedIn prepared Laure for entrepreneurship (05:41 – 7:22)
– How she juggles multiple priorities (08:36 – 10:19)
– On reinventing herself in the sustainability space through learning and networking (12:39 – 15:30)
“It’s really time management and blocking my time.”
In addition to TEORRA, Laure is the founder and managing director at KYND and is working as the head of digital marketing at EcoMatcher. When it comes to juggling all the balls, Laure uses time blocking and systems such as Hootsuite and G-suite to schedule and automate her work.
“Build your community in your space because you’ll learn a lot faster.”
After spending significant time learning online through courses and data, Laure has been talking to people who have the knowledge she is hoping to acquire. Not only has she found it faster to just talk to people and learn from them, it has also helped her develop her community and find comfort and support.
“Community has changed everything.”
In the past couple of months, Laure has focused on community and female founders to help support her through her entrepreneurship journey. She has found this job to be lonely, not in terms of not meeting people or having friends, but finding people who truly understand what you’re doing and have similar challenges. She says it’s nice to have people that you can share your challenges or your goals with, or just brainstorm!
“Be the owner of whatever you do.”
Whether in a corporate or in an entrepreneurial role, Laure believes that it is essential to take ownership of your work. Her time at LinkedIn has always felt like a start-up, even after it was acquired by Microsoft. She felt empowered to take decisions and make changes. This in turn prepared her for her entrepreneurial journey.
The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Bas Fransen, CEO of Ecomatcher
Chris Edwards (02:55)
Laure, thank you so much for joining me today. Great to have you on the show.
Laure Guilbaud (02:58)
Thank you so much for having me, Chris.
Chris Edwards (03:00)
I really can’t wait to dive into this conversation today. I think I’m gonna say it wrong. Let me try this again.
Chris Edwards (03:08)
Laure Guilbaud (03:09)
TEORRA? Perfect. Yeah,
Chris Edwards (03:11)
it really interesting name, TEORRA. So my understanding of TEORRA, your startup is your inspiration is to be a green Alibaba. I hope I’ve summarised that in two words, well, but maybe you can explain to our listeners what TEORRA is and what problem TEORRA is trying to solve.
Laure Guilbaud (03:31)
It’s in parts of it is. So we are a B2B marketplace that connects sustainable suppliers with brands globally. And so we work with companies like restaurants, we work with fashion brands that are looking for sustainable suppliers that are certified, that are verified by us. And we kind of connect them so that they can transact directly on our platform to purchase these products. So that’s kind of the marketplace sites, we also add impact data on top. And that’s where we kind of different from Alibaba, where we also want to provide environmental data on top of just being a marketplace. So yes, a little bit like an Alibaba, but with impact data on top.
Chris Edwards (04:12)
That’s gonna be quite revolutionary, because I can imagine a lot of the challenges people have with what they’re wanting to do is just finding suppliers that are ethical and sustainably minded. How do you know that your suppliers are sustainable and ethical?
Laure Guilbaud (04:28)
So we have a very kind of strict vetting process. So about 20 questions where we ask all of our suppliers to show us their certification. So if you’re a fashion, for example, fashion supplier, and you’re telling me that you provide organic cotton we would look at “Do you have a got certification?” We also look at things like water consumption, CO2 emissions, so we ask a lot of different questions in order to make sure that everything they’re saying all their claims are actually true. And there’s kind of no greenwashing. So our main goal is really to avoid greenwashing and all of these sustainability claims that a lot of people can’t really come, they can’t really verify. So really bring transparency to the process.
Chris Edwards (05:12)
Your background for many years was in LinkedIn, I think it was six years in LinkedIn before you decided to those-
Laure Guilbaud (05:18)
Chris Edwards (05:20)
Eight years, eight years. Sorry, my bad. It’s been a long time on LinkedIn. I imagine you would have seen a lot change in the eight years that you are at LinkedIn. Now it’s become probably one of the biggest business platforms or social media platforms there is, what has that experience of eight years at LinkedIn brought for you as an entrepreneur?
Laure Guilbaud (05:41)
That’s actually the question I actually saw. I’ve seen LinkedIn change from eight or almost 10 years ago. Now. 10 years ago, it was really a job posting platform, I would say, where people would go on LinkedIn to find their next job, their next play. And then it’s really moved towards being more of a content platform. So yeah, there’s been massive change. But one thing, which I always used to tell everyone is always so LinkedIn has kind of a startup. And then we got acquired by Microsoft. So it was kind of a startup within a massive organisation with a way the leadership in the organization was kind of built, it really felt like a startup where you’re really empowered to make decisions and make changes. So while it changed a lot, I loved my time there because it felt like a startup in a way.
Chris Edwards (06:27)
And so you were allowed to experiment.
Laure Guilbaud (06:29)
Definitely. So I actually had about seven roles, seven different roles in Asia, while I was there, more or less, very similar roles, I would say and so I was part of what is called Marketing Solutions, which is the advertising arm of LinkedIn. And I did a lot of different roles. So the account manager then became an actual manager, like a team manager there. And every single time it was kind of me going to leadership and be like, “Okay, I think this is time for me to change roles or, or move locations.” So I actually started in London, after a year I moved to Singapore, then moved to Hong Kong, because at the time, there was a position there that I thought was interesting. And then they moved me back to Singapore, because my husband needed to be in Singapore. So it was a super flexible leadership. And yeah, they would really empower you to make changes in the company.
Chris Edwards (07:22)
So interesting. And so where did the idea for TEORRA come out?
Laure Guilbaud (07:27)
So TEORRA initially was not actually my idea. So I have a co-founder called Hemal. He is based here as well in Singapore. And he came from very different backgrounds. He was at Accenture and PWC. And he is a triathlete. And he was trying to create an athlete shoe brand, the sustainable athlete shoe brands. And he realised it’s extremely complicated to find suppliers that like we talked about earlier that you can trust that are sustainable, that you can verify. And in parallel, we didn’t know each other at this time. But I was creating a company called Kynd, which is a sustainable apparel brand. And I was facing the same challenges. It’s very complex. There’s 1000s of options issued on Alibaba, there’s millions of options, and you can’t really verify a lot of the claims. So we were introduced through recommend friends about a year ago, and kind of discussed these challenges. And that’s kind of how TEORRA started.
Chris Edwards (08:21)
Yeah, okay, and you still running KYND at the same time,
Laure Guilbaud (08:25)
Chris Edwards (08:26)
Yeah, and you’ve also been heavily involved in another role at Eco Mata as head of digital, how are you managing all these balls in the air?
Laure Guilbaud (08:36)
I mean, I don’t have a magic recipe on this. It’s actually complicated. And there’s moments where I’m thinking to myself, it was nice to have one role at LinkedIn. A while back, I would say for me, it’s really time management and blocking my time. And I always tell my team members to block your time. And also when you if you see that my time is blocked, don’t put meetings in there, and really have maybe four hours a day for a specific company or a specific task. And then the rest of the day for TEORRA, for example. So for me, time management is probably the biggest one. And it sounds cliche, but the fact of blocking time, your calendar, I think that’s that’s the key. The second one is having systems for me. And so for example, if so with equal measure, I will do all of the digital marketing and use systems like Hootsuite where you can schedule in advance and or blocking your time. So again, it goes back to the time management blocking one hour a day to just write captions and then scheduling them so that everything is kind of automated and having systems in place. For me that’s my best way to be kind of effective and productive.
Chris Edwards (09:42)
Do you have any other system tips? So HootSuite one, what else do you heavily rely on?
Laure Guilbaud (08:36)
Hootsuite? So one thing that I rely on a lot – so I’m a night owl, so I do work late. I do work very late, but I don’t want that expectation on my team. So I would schedule the emails for example. So that’s while it’s still fresh in my mind, even if it’s a little late, I know it’s not a great tip. I’m not saying that everyone should work late, but that works for me. I just scheduled things so that it’s actually since the morning after. So my brain power the morning after can be on something else.
Chris Edwards (10:13)
Yeah. And then he said, really smart at nine o’clock in the morning, don’t you?
Laure Guilbaud (10:16)
Chris Edwards (10:19)
08:45 I really find scheduling emails a really good tip, actually, because I think a lot of people don’t know, it’s so easy to do in G Suite. And I do it as much as I can as well, because I’m in a different timezone to my core team. So I’m there also, on the weekends, I’m exactly the same, I’ll have an idea and I’ll go, I’m gonna lose this, or I’ll just write it in an email and schedule it for that. Yeah, I sound really smart, nine o’clock on Monday. I mean, I suppose it’s really interesting that you had all you have Kynd your apparel business. And that’s led you to understand this big problem for anyone who’s trying to create a business with sourcing ethical suppliers. So you are your own customer in that sense. So where are you at with TEORRA now?
Laure Guilbaud (11:06)
Yes, exactly. So we’ve spent the past year really building a pool of amazing suppliers. So at this stage, we have about 75 verified suppliers on the marketplace, which is about 1000, way over 1000 products by now. We’ve also spent the past year building the actual marketplace, which has been a little bit of a challenge like with any tech company. And we are currently in beta testing with suppliers as well as a few buyers. So we are just doing a lot of technical testing to make sure that everything and all the processes are in place. And early next year, we’ll actually launch the marketplace to the public.
Chris Edwards (11:39)
Wow, exciting. Are you also in the process of fundraising at the same time?
Laure Guilbaud (11:44)
Yes. So we’ve been bootstrapped until now, we’ve just raised a first round kind of pre-seed, which is very exciting. And next year, yes, we’ll very proactively be raising funds.
Chris Edwards (11:55)
Oh exciting. And you know, how much do you want to raise?
Laure Guilbaud (11:58)
We are looking at about 750K
Chris Edwards (12:01)
And will you be very selective about who the investor is, as much about the money as it is about what else they can bring to the table?
Laure Guilbaud (12:11)
I mean, obviously, the money side is interesting, but I would love investors who understand sustainability, because it is still a pretty new space. And we’ve been talking to investors super interesting, because they know other companies who are doing things that are complementary to what we’re doing. So I would say investors who are kind of have a good understanding of sustainability.
Chris Edwards (12:35)
Okay, great. Tell me what’s been the hardest thing so far?
Laure Guilbaud (12:39)
The hardest thing, as an entrepreneur, I would say, kind of recreating myself, that’s probably been the hardest for me. After eight years with the company, I kind of was known for what I was doing within my company. So I kind of had my signature, which was advertising, content marketing, and kind of completely pivoting to a completely new topic. I would probably say what has been the hardest for me, because there are moments where I’m thinking no one knows me for sustainability. They might think about me for content marketing, but no one actually knows my credentials for sustainability, because that’s something I kind of learned on my own. So I would say, for me, that’s probably been the hardest. And sometimes the most stressful is like, am I gonna be taken seriously with this new topic?
Chris Edwards (13:27)
And how have you gained that knowledge in sustainability?
Laure Guilbaud (13:31)
That’s a good question. I. So I have researched a lot. Anyone who knows me knows that I spend my time researching and learning. I think it’s, there’s so many different avenues. So I’ll give you an example. I’m now vegan. I’ve been vegan for four years. And it started because I watched the usual Netflix shows that everyone is talking about the Cowspiracy, then these kinds of things. And it kind of all started there. I just watched something I learned through data. And I just heard a lot of data, obviously, around climate change and the impact of the food industry on the planet, for example, and this is where it all started for me and, and it’s just yeah, just reading more books, doing this LinkedIn learning classes about sustainability. So I kind of took all of them to kind of level my knowledge of it.
Chris Edwards (14:17)
And what would be your advice for someone who wanted to learn more in the sustainability space, what’s been the most useful or helpful tool that you’ve used?
Laure Guilbaud (14:24)
So I would say one thing that I’m starting to do now, which I should have done before is network and just talking to people who have the knowledge, I relied a lot on this kind of content online. It’s way faster to just talk to people who actually are already in the space. So I would say probably just build your community in the space because you learn a lot faster.
Chris Edwards (14:42)
That’s a really great tip. And I definitely am a person that learns from talking and listening. And I think I take a lot of joy out of meeting new people and being challenged by what you believe or what you know, in a conversation. So that’s really nice to hear that you’re finding that as the fastest way to level up in a new area.
Laure Guilbaud (15:05)
Yeah and I would have to say, Launchpad has been awesome for that. Oh, yay, Because there’s quite a few members who also work in sustainability. So it’s been nice to meet, and especially women, there’s a lot of men entrepreneurs let’s be honest. And finding finally kind of a group. Obviously, there’s men and women at launchpad, but, but it’s been nice to meet other female founders who also work in sustainability. So kudos to to launchpad.
Chris Edwards (15:08)
Laure Guilbaud (15:10)
Because there’s quite a few members who also work in sustainability. So it’s been nice to meet, and especially women, there’s a lot of men entrepreneurs let’s be honest. And finding finally kind of a group. Obviously, there’s, there’s men and women at Launchpad but it’s been nice to meet other female founders who also work in sustainability. So kudos to, to Launchpad!
Chris Edwards (15:30)
I’m so pleased to hear that. Yeah, we’re definitely actively trying to attract anyone in the conscious business face, because I think it is a really new space and it is tricky, you know, like, you can very easily do some messed up missteps, particularly around not understanding or positioning yourself for something that you’re not and being tarred with greenwashing. You can also be too scared to be out and proud about what you stand for, because you’re fearful of being tarred with greenwashing. So it’s really, it is a tricky space to navigate.
Chris Edwards (16:32)
And what are you doing at TEORRA to help people understand your positioning? Like have you considered B Corp? Or is that something that you’re you’re looking at,
Laure Guilbaud (16:39)
We have and we will definitely apply at some point. Right now we just want to set up the company and in the marketplace to be at a stage where we get users and we get feedback. So the priority has really been more on the let’s get the product out. Once that’s out, once we have feedback from the market, then we’ll definitely go for a B Corp. That’s the goal for us. For sure.
Chris Edwards (17:02)
It’s exciting. I think B Corp is really exciting for Asia, because it’s not really you know, there’s only 26 B Corp companies in Singapore at the present moment. So it’s really early days. But that’s a really great opportunity for entrepreneurs because they can be the first and they can be the leaders and they can be the shining examples of what B Corp means and can do for your business. I wanted to ask you, with all the uncertainty around us and the impending recession, the climate crisis, there’s a lot of change at the minute. What are you most concerned about? Is there something that you think people have their Eyes Wide Shut on right now?
Laure Guilbaud (17:42)
Well, that’s a good question. There used to be a lot more conversations on sustainability. And I do think that some companies now might be kind of putting the pause on it a little bit, which I think is a shame on a lot of different levels. But it is a shame for companies actually, because with government regulations that are coming with raising demand from consumers for sustainable products, if company’s pause all their sustainability initiatives, they’re going to be left behind in the years to come. So I would say on a personal level, I’m concerned that there might be less investments in sustainability and less commitments. And then on the kind of professional level and business level, I’m concerned that some companies are just going to be left behind. If they don’t put it as a priority. Now, it’s a hard balance, because the short term priority might look different. But the long term impacts might be massive. If you don’t make it a goal right now.
Chris Edwards (18:33)
Yeah, no, I totally agree. And I think there is a massive wave of change coming. I think the young consumers today, like the Gen Zers were going to be a lot more demanding of what they want from a company and a product. I think you’re in the right space. But I think everyone’s going to want to be not just choosing great products, but choosing great products from great companies, because it’s so important to have that value set aligned. So it’s a very interesting time, I think, I think it’s a very pivotal moment, especially post COVID. COVID has had a big, I suppose, almost reckoning with what people are focused on.
Laure Guilbaud (19:15)
Yeah. And I feel like it also depends on the region. So I think in Singapore, we talk a lot about sustainability. But we’re not seeing as much action. So what we would love to do with TEORRA really is to bring the action to sustainability and make it simpler. And I think that this topic has been so complex, even for people who work in sustainability. So for companies who might not be focusing on material needs, I think just simplifying the process and bringing it into action to it. That’s really what we want to accomplish there.
Chris Edwards (19:45)
That’s perfect. I love that. Okay, so I want to jump into some rapid fire questions. I’m wondering, do you have any business advice or mantras that you’ve rolled around in your head that kind of keep you going, keep you motivated and when moving in the right direction.
Laure Guilbaud (20:02)
Business advice, which I’ve all I’ve always said even when I was in corporate and now is “Be the owner of whatever you do.” I don’t know if you know the book, The Startup of You by Reed Hoffman. So a book that basically talks about how you can kind of apply entrepreneurship to your own role and just become an owner of whatever you’re doing. So yeah, I would say my business advice has always gone back to that book, which is, see whatever you’re doing whatever job you have, as your own startup, and be the owner of whatever you’re doing.
Chris Edwards (20:31)
Hmm, that’s great advice. And I presume that’s kind of the mantra that you had at LinkedIn, and why you were able to enjoy such an entrepreneurial experience in a corporate, which I think is quite rare, to be honest.
Laure Guilbaud (20:45)
It is rare. That’s why I love my time there for that exact reason. Because it always felt like you were the owner of whatever role you had. So if you’re in sales, you know, the book of business, your book of business is kind of your startup, you’re the owner of it. And it is rare, like you said, it’s rare in such large companies to feel that way.
Chris Edwards (21:03)
Cool. Okay, next question. Which of these expressions resonates for you? Luck favors the Open Mind or Fortune favors the bold?
Laure Guilbaud (21:14)
I’m not sure I understand. This is the french in me, I don’t know what that means. Luck favors-
Chris Edwards (21:20)
So I think for me, it’s like, as an entrepreneur, you need to look for opportunities, and think differently, and use your mind to be creative. But you also need to be really bold and take action and take risks. So I suppose I’m asking, what’s more important? Is it the mind? Or is it the action?
Laure Guilbaud (21:40)
Oh, I’m all about action. So I would say, Be bold, take action.
Chris Edwards (21:45)
I’m the same I feel like even if it’s wrong, at least, you know, you know, like, I feel like, so many people spend a lot of time worrying about what might happen. Well, if you do it, you’ll know. Right?
Laure Guilbaud (21:56)
Exactly, exactly. So you have to be bold.
Chris Edwards (21:59)
Okay, great. And tell me what does community mean for you and your business? How have you used community as as part of your strategy,
Laure Guilbaud (22:08)
I’ll be honest with you, only in the past few months, I’ve really proactively done it and it’s changed everything for me, because being an entrepreneur, and it will sound a little sad, but it feels lonely, sometimes, not in terms of not meeting people lonely in terms of this, what I’m doing is very specific. And sometimes it’s nice to have people that you can share challenges with or your goals and just brainstorm. And so I do have a co founder, which is amazing. But still, it can feel a bit lonely. If you don’t have other, like I said earlier, female founder friends, for example. So for me, community has changed everything. And I will go back to Launchpad. Just even if I’m not always active, let’s say on the groups and everything, just hearing all of everyone’s challenges, see what they’re working on. It inspires me. So community has been everything for me in the past, I would say three to four months.
Chris Edwards (22:56)
That’s awesome. I’m so happy to hear that. And I’ll have to send you a check later for this. Lovely,
Laure Guilbaud (23:03)
Sponsored by launchpads.
Chris Edwards (23:06)
This was not set up, but I’m loving it all the same. And tell me, I mean, I know it’s very early days. And maybe this is something that you could reflect in one of your other businesses. But I’d love to know, have you got a business collaboration or partnership that you’ve done that’s been really successful, your business for your business or one of your businesses?
Laure Guilbaud (23:27)
I’ll be honest with you on this one. And at this stage, we don’t, we are early days on a few partnerships. That could be amazing. So an example with TEORRA the way we think about partnership is. So we’ve built two partnerships, one in India, one in Indonesia, with NGOs. And the goal of working with NGOs is they know small micro manufacturers around India and Indonesia, that might not be certified. They can’t afford a B Corp. They can afford the certification. But these partners can kind of verify all of the sustainability claims for the smaller suppliers. And in this case, the way I see the impact is more of a social impact. So you might have small communities of women in villages in India, that might be making amazing products that we could sell on the marketplace. But in theory, they’re not certified. They’re not certified. So in theory, they might not qualify to be on TEORRA. But because we now have these NGO partners that go and kind of vet all of these small village communities of artisans, we now have really cool suppliers on the marketplace that usually would not have had access to normally. It’s kind of too early days. But that’s kind of how I’m thinking about partnership at the moment is NGOs and foundations that do amazing work in countries that can’t necessarily afford all the certifications.
Chris Edwards (24:47)
Yeah, that’s amazing because I think also you’re the gateway for people to find these people and for these people to actually have a business so you can have a massive impact with bringing buyers to the small artisans. That’s really cool. Tell me Do you have a favorite business book or a favorite business podcast?
Laure Guilbaud (25:08)
Oh, I don’t have a favorite business podcast. I don’t know if it’s a business book, but the book that has completely changed things for me, business wise, is “quiet” by Susan Cain. I don’t know if you’ve, if you’ve heard about quiet so quiet is about the power of being an introvert. And it’s not introvert versus extrovert. It’s really teaching you the science behind what it means to be an introvert. And already, it’s at the beginning of my career. And she has a lot of angles around how you can apply to business. And it kind of gave me the confidence of being okay, I’m introverted, but it’s also okay, I can be in sales. Despite being an introverts, there are a few tricks to being very successful in sales, despite maybe not being the loudest person in the room. I would recommend this book to anyone, introvert or extrovert.
Chris Edwards (25:57)
Oh, I love it. I’m definitely going to read that one. And my last question to you is at Launchpad, we believe a rising tide floats all boats. And I’d love to know if you have an entrepreneur that you think we should interview on this podcast?
Laure Guilbaud (26:10)
That’s a very good question. I would recommend that I, you mentioned it earlier, I do digital marketing for a company called EcoMatcher, which is a tree planting technology company, I would recommend the CEO Bas Fransen and he’s very knowledgeable on technology tree planting sustainability. And I think he could bring a lot of value to your audience.
Chris Edwards (26:33)
Great. Well, Bas, if you’re not listening to this, you should be but I’m going to find you and see if you’ll give me half an hour an hour to an hour of your time. Law. I’d love to chat today. I think it’s really inspiring what you’re doing. And I’m very happy to hear that launchpad has been a support to you because we need more people in the world creating businesses just like TEORRA. So thank you. Thank you for your time today. It’s been a pleasure.
Laure Guilbaud (26:59)
Thank you so much, Chris. Thank you.