Coaches and experts: people driving the innovation process

October 11, 2019

We couldn't do it without them! It's thanks to Rémi, Virginie, Jeroen, Sophie, Luis and their fellow coaches that we can offer start-ups such a special experience on Cyber@StationF, our cybersecurity programme at Station F, the biggest start-up incubator in the world.


Thales encourages its employees to engage with start-ups on this programme and discover new ways of innovating — and that's what makes this adventure so rewarding, both intellectually and on a human level.


Boosting the development of tomorrow's cyber champions

The aim of the coaching programme is to create value for our customers and cybersecurity partners by promoting co-development projects by Thales and the start-ups taking part in the Cyber@StationF programme. At the same time, the coaches share the Group's expertise and experience with the start-ups to help them to grow into the cyber champions of tomorrow


How do I hire my first UX designer? Which is the best pricing strategy? What do I need to set up in a new country? How do I organise a funding round? These are the kinds of questions our coaches and experts try to answer for our start-up partners.


Business coaches and technical coaches

For each new season, the programme assigns two dedicated coaches — a business coach and a technical coach — to each start-up. These Thales employees will be the Group's ambassadors to the start-ups, and vice versa, throughout the season.


The business coaches ease access to Thales's sales and marketing networks and help the start-up to define promising use cases to develop on the programme. They also put them in touch with the people in the best position to answer specific questions and to provide the support they need with their projects.


The start-ups usually expect a lot from Thales, so you need to listen to them and play a thought leadership role so their projects stay aligned with Thales's business. It's great to be involved in the programme for the whole six months, because you go through the entire process from identifying use cases to developing concrete solutions for one or two of them." Pierre-Yves Benzakine, coach for Season 2.

Technical coaches help the start-ups to find, define and develop the right technical solutions for their projects. They also organise working sessions with experts, including security audits, challenges and special workshops to help the start-ups to fine-tune their value propositions. 

Sometimes the start-ups discover new opportunities for their projects thanks to the insights of Thales coaches and experts, as Gonzague Desminières explains:

"I managed to show the start-up I was coaching that their product would be more useful for analysing CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) than for malware detection, and that gave them a real strategic advantage ".


a culture of sharing

The international dimension to this engagement by Thales and the start-ups we support is important too, as Jeroen van der Lugt explains:

"It doesn't matter if you're Dutch (like me) or French, Russian or American — the desire to turn your idea into a successful enterprise is universal. The fact that I'm coaching a French start-up isn't an issue. In fact it's an advantage because it means I'm automatically bringing them an international vision. And different cultures bring a new dynamic to the way you work. Dutch people like to get straight to the point, and the start-up found this attitude quite useful and helpful for their sales and marketing operations". 

This culture of sharing and the desire to create something new together makes the atmosphere at work something quite special — and it's an efficient way of working too, because people in every corner of the planet can work together easily.

"We have weekly conference calls, and I meet up with them once a month at Station F. I love the positive energy that radiates from Station F and all those budding start-ups! With a bit of planning and some remote support, you can really play a useful role both for the start-up and for Thales," adds Jeroen.
A personal journey with benefits for all

All the coaches volunteered to join the Cyber@StationF adventure for different reasons — to find a new work culture, for example, or to share their knowledge or just for the challenge of doing something new.

 « It's a very good experience for the coaches and for Thales. You learn new ideas from new people, discover new styles of working and new products that could expand Thales's portfolio and create value for our customers and ourselve s»  
 Luis Fernandez Jimenez- coach for season 2 and 3


Our experts' engagement with the talent we are helping to boost at Station F is what makes the adventure truly unique, and it's especially important for the future of cybersecurity. We are looking forward to discovering what all these talented people are going to achieve together for this third season currently under way.