Scarlet and I – Putting an end to a passionate relationship.


I can still remember how it all started.
I was doing a pub crawl in Helsinki with a bunch of my friends.
Joona, whom I had met few months earlier and I had become friend with, invited us to drop by the cafe he was having a tea with his wife.
We stayed there for a short while and before leaving, Joona told me that he wanted to tell me about a crazy idea he had been working on. It involved cars… electric cars…
We agreed to meet the following Monday for dinner to discuss that crazy idea of his.
I spent the weekend thinking about his words… “cars”.. “electric cars”…

Monday, 7pm, Virgin Oil, Helsinki.

I get there, Joona is already sitting at a table. Finns are always early… ok.. I am few mins late… French..
We have a great dinner, both meat lovers.
We discuss life, women, some politics… Keeping cars for dessert.

Time comes.
Joona gets his laptop out and starts pitching something he calls “Scarlet”.
After the first 3 slides, he already got me!
No matter what Joona wants me to do in there, I love it and want to contribute.
He finishes his presentation.
I let him breath. It was intense.
I ask: “How can I help you?”
I give him time to think.
I excuse myself. I go to the bathroom.
I want him to give me a clear answer.
During the few mins I am away, my mind races.
I see already all the opportunities, the big picture comes together. I am excited.
I come back, sit down in front of him.
With a grin on his face, he tells me: “I want you to lead this project. I want you to become the CEO of Scarlet Motors.”
I take a minute to enjoy the moment.
I reply: “Thank you. Let’s make Scarlet a reality!”
We shake hands.

Fast forward 18 months later, Scarlet is an upcoming brand in the EV circles, it is a recognised startup in Scandinavia, the Product and its technologies are at prototyping phase, the Company has strong partners and most of all, we have inspired talented professionals to join the Team and have pulled together 1200 individuals interested in building shared knowledge on Electric Vehicles for the good of mankind. Of course, the Company has still a lot to announce and share with the public.

Nothing has come to us in an easy fashion.
First of all, I was working at Rovio when this all started.
10h a day at the birds factory, second shift at Scarlet’s office, sometimes until 1am.
We had to evaluate partners and potential employees while learning a complete new business field.
In August last year, when time came to become more public, I made the leap of faith, thanking Rovio for the amazing opportunity they had given me, and moving on full time to Scarlet.
The entrepreneur life resumed.
Scarlet needed our full attention and energy.
We couldn’t afford using the money we received from seed investors to pay ourself salaries, so we lived on our savings.
We injected everything into the development of the Product, except for few t-shirts (if you’re lucky to have one, it is now a collector btw) and stickers we did to build a sexy brand.

I learned a lot and so did the rest of the Team.

You’d have noticed that I use a “T” for Team. I believe that a startup is mostly People, with a bit of tech. I am an engineer and I value technology, but it’s not technology that will push hard in the evenings, challenge my thinking, hold together when things are rough, bounce ideas off to create something new and innovative, and go for wings at Henry’s Pub.
Fostering a healthy culture amongst the Team was something I put a lot of focus on.
It was an amazing learning experience as an apprentice Leader.

Why am I using “was”?

Because I have decided to resign from my position of CEO of Scarlet Motors.
I have not taken that decision lightly and have been feeling really emotional the past few months.
My friends have noticed that I was far away from my usual self.
Companies evolve and people too.
I just wish that everyone could have kept their commitments, their word, working together towards building an amazing Product.
I still believe in the Team as well as in Joona’s dream, his design talent and the Product.
Joona and I will work again together at some point, if he still has some time for side projects with his company Jay Style.
I have no regrets.

However, as a Shareholder of Scarlet Motors, this is a necessary decision to make for the Company to have a chance to move further.

I want to thank:
- Joona for giving me such a great opportunity
- the Team for rallying behind us and putting in the effort to achieve amazing things
- the Companies who became Scarlet’s Partners for seeing the opportunity and teaching us the job on the spot
- my Friends and Family for helping me reflect all along and especially during the hard times
- my Father, for believing in me and investing his own personal money to participate in building the success of the Company

So what am I up to now?
I am now taking some time off to break away emotionally from Scarlet and clear my mind (i.e.: BASE Jumping and traveling).
I have been advising few startups and will announce more about my plans in this respect.
I am doing consultancy work for couple of companies, helping them restructure their product development.

What next?
I will keep on supporting Scarlet as a Shareholder.
I will share more about my experience as an entrepreneur on this blog.
I am looking for an innovative and exciting project to contribute and bring my skills to, in the mobile/web domains, but it would be a shame to waste my learnings on the automotive industry.
Check out my Linkedin, and if you think that I could be a fit to support you in building a product/service, send me an email: julien at fourgeaud dot com

But for now, I’ll go and get some well deserved sun!