Category Shine a light on ...
16 July 2023

Flore de Durfort on what starting a business is all about

Tag Entrepreneurship
Tag Sustainability
Tag energy

Flore de Durfort on what starting a business is all about

Paving the way to industrial decarbonization

Manual, non-transparent and not scalable: The certification of industrial energy-intensive goods as "green" is still based on a testing procedure that dates back to the 20th century. As a result, manufacturers of energy-intensive goods (gases, fuels, chemicals, materials) cannot reliably prove that what they produce and market is green. But what if this process could be streamlined and even automated? That’s where Point Twelve steps in. The IoT and software solution makes it easy for energy intensive goods producers to prove the renewable origin of their energy, quantify carbon emissions based on operational data, obtain government-approved certificates, unlock the highest green premium from it. The goal: to pave the way to industrial decarbonization.


We spoke with Flore de Durfort, who co-founded Point Twelve and has been its CEO ever since. She gives guest lectures at the TUM School of Management and shares her entrepreneurial advice with us.


What was the biggest challenge you faced in starting Point Twelve, and how did you overcome it?


Flore de Durfort: Despite our decade-long experience in the field of energy transition, as founders we had to start from scratch. That was certainly the greatest challenge. So how did we approach it?


First of all, we had to get a deep understanding of the problems faced by our customer group and figure out how we could contribute to a solution. That’s why we conducted nearly 75 interviews over the course of two months, leveraging our industry networks and cold-approaching experts. We then used that as a basis to develop, validate and sharpen our value proposition.


Now what's the best way of getting feedback on your value proposition? To sell it! So early on, we developed a minimum viable brand as well as a pitch deck, and introduced ourselves as founders and experts in the field. Last October, we had the opportunity to pitch Point Twelve at a major hydrogen conference in Brussels. In just a few days, we made tremendous progress, attracting more and more attention and winning trust with what will become our first customers.


In other words, we sold our product without actually having a sellable product. That may sound strange, but to a certain extent moving fast in the very beginning implies a share of "fake it till you make it". You have to present an idea to your potential customers to know if it addresses a need or not. And, of course, you have to listen and incorporate feedback to further improve the product.


You founded Point Twelve together with Quentin Cangelosi and Erika Degoute. How do you make sure you harmonize as a management trio?


Flore de Durfort: To me, harmony and trust amongst founders is a fundamental criterion for starting a business. In our case, we had already worked together for several years before we decided to launch Point Twelve. So we already knew we could work well together and function as a trio: different voices and intelligences able to coordinate, listen to each other, speak in their own languages without stifling one another.


We know each other's strengths and weaknesses and not only have great trust in each other, but more importantly, a great deal of respect for each other's achievements and abilities. In moments of doubt, we always come back to this deep understanding. In addition, we are united by the will to make a difference, especially in the energy transition. And this fundamental motivation is something that drives us every day and makes us give our best.


What advice would you give TUM School of Management students on how to approach starting a business?


Flore de Durfort: My first advice would be to find a problem that you really want to solve. Being truly passionate about a problem helps to keep motivation high. That way, it doesn't matter if the solution to the problem changes.

 Also, surround yourself with people you deeply respect and admire and who share your passion for solving that problem. Because in the end, it's all about the common goal and the people you share the journey with. So: fall in love with a problem, and fall in love with the people!