I grew up facing adversity in my very youth, therefore resilience & determination became a default setting. No choice. Despite facing numerous challenges including imprisonment, damaged reputation, discrimination, I had no other choice to not give up and ultimately achieve success. However, the ride itself, took me all the way down to rock bottom. Just because I did hit it, didn't mean I had to stay there.
The Beginning 🤯
My journey began in the poor area of Roubaix in North France, abandoned by my mother, raised by an 80 years old grandmother. I dropped out of school at 16. Went down with a series of mistakes in my early 20s. Homeless, I was involved with the wrong people, broke into stores, stole TVs, conned my way around and was ultimately sentenced to several months in prison. Once released I fell back again, this time going to hotels, nightclubs, and rental cars, without paying my bills among other related offenses highlighted back then unfairly forcing me to Europeanized my name like many immigrants, former convicts, public figures, to get a fair second chance in life. These experiences, while tough, taught me the importance of self-reflection and personal growth.
Moving on 🦾
Moving on to a new life brought me a new set of social & financial challenges. With minor offenses records it became impossible to find employment, housing, or even a social circle. Factually, I got rejected more than 50 times on job interviews, fired only after a few days at work more than 10 times, got denied renting apartments more than 15 times over. I became a second class citizen. However, I didn’t complain, nor quit, determined to break through the social non-sense I was facing. As such I tirelessly worked to rebuild my reputation, taking on odd underpaid jobs and volunteering in NGOs helping drug addicts, refugees and LGBTQ rights alike. All of that while being homeless again, sleeping in a church studio and picking up my mail at another NGO nearby.
These efforts eventually paid off. I was able to secure a job, where I quickly distinguished myself as a talented and innovative hire. Over time, I managed to be recognized as top leader in micro-mobility, and got invited to speak at conferences. It took me 10 years of struggles, to europeanize my name, start from rock bottom again to reach success. So whatever you are going through, chin-up, stand and by all means: Keep moving towards a new version of yourself. Don't let anyone tell you what you can or can't achieve, only you know that.
Yet, despite my successes, I kept facing discrimination and prejudice with fingers pointing at my outdated, irrelevant, past mistakes and of course my ethnical background. However, I refused to be defined by others' expectations. I continued to work hard, to speak out against racial and social injustice, and to mentor other individuals who were facing similar challenges.
Modern Changes 👊🏼
Today, at 40 years old, I'm widely regarded as a success story. Respected leader in my industry and turned serial investor. I'm celebrated for my resilience and determination and a powerful reminder of the importance of perseverance, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. By refusing to give up, I achieved my dreams and seek to inspire others to do the same with regular features on Bloomberg, Forbes, Business Insider and podcasts alike. Supporting NGO's such as Les Determinés, Epic Foundation, or the fantastic Samia Essay is a duty to me. With success comes responsibility, do never forget that.
Don’t Quit Ventures, my new fund, is the next step on my journey towards social empowerment through capital helping founders in emerging markets get around biases and obstacles they face in the VC world.
Dare to be what you are meant to become, not what the world is wants you to be.