Rencontre avec Bertrand Uzeel, cofondateur de Welcome to the Jungle

Meeting with Bertrand Uzeel, co-founder of Welcome to the Jungle

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Welcome To The Jungle is quite simply a UFO of its kind. This is a platform which, in recent years, has refreshed recruitment methods in the job market while establishing itself as a transversal , online and on paper, which is good to read to find out what is being done. good in the world of business and French start-ups. Located in a building in the heart of Paris, Welcome To The Jungle and its approximately one hundred and twenty employees are managed by a fun duo in sneakers composed of Bertand Uzeel and Jérémy Clédat.

On a summer morning when it's still a little cool, he's the first one we meet over coffee. At 35, Bertrand Uzeel doesn't have much of the image we have of a successful boss: an Australian biker cap and knuckles tattooed like a pirate, a background as a sound engineer and cinema dreams in mind. A new king of the jungle look!

At the start of the Welcome To The Jungle adventure, there is this idea that the principles of recruitment on the job market, in the business world, are far too austere...

When you go to a recruitment fair, which is a fairly wide range of what the world of employment is like, everyone is dressed the same way. It's like walking around La Défense one morning and seeing all these people in gray suits disembarking at the top of the escalator. Everyone is in suits, really. It's an absolute dress code.

With Jérémy Clédat, the co-founder of Welcome To The Jungle, we went to one of these shows one year to hold a short conference. I then found myself in a suit too, as if I had been conditioned by the place and the situation, whereas, usually, I spend my life in jeans and in a t-shirt . It was as if my subconscious had ordered me to be like the others.

If you're good with a style that stands out, I think it's easier to make an impression

Just before the conference started, I started to feel unwell. I wasn't at all comfortable in my costume. It was not me. I then swore to myself that at the next shows, I would dress as I wanted. In later years, when I went on stage with my t-shirt, I told myself at the time that I had to be very good to capture the attention of my audience. It felt like I was starting at a disadvantage. This is where we are.

But be careful, if you're good with a style that stands out, I think it's easier to make an impression. Just look at Steve Jobs at Apple: the guy was a genius, and with his sweaters, his shapeless jeans and his big sneakers, he created a style that everyone remembers today. today.

Was this “disadvantage” really detrimental to you?

I think my style was a hindrance, yes. Some rather traditional investment funds that we went to see when raising funds must have said to themselves that we were puppets when they saw us. The same thing must have happened with some of the banks that granted us an appointment. We would have had an easier time getting started at the start if Jérémy and I had worn a suit, like everyone else.

My tattoos certainly didn't help either. During the first meetings with the Welcome To The Jungle board, I wasn't really calm. I put my hands under the table. Just because I say you have to take me as I am doesn't mean it's easy. I put a lot of pressure on myself, I'm always afraid of coming across as a clown, of being taken for someone who has nothing to show off apart from their looks and their tattoos. I think that all of this is unfortunately quite a French problem. In the United States, a guy dressed in a tank top and jogging pants, covered in tattoos from head to toe, may very well attract the attention of an investment fund simply because he is going to tell them that he has the best idea in the world and that he will do everything to make it come true. In these cases, there is no problem. We trust him. For Anglo-Saxon funds, what counts above all is the idea and the ambition that goes with it. Looks are secondary.

Where does this French austerity come from, in your opinion?

In the world of employment, there has never been any desire to change anything. The proof, on the site of any big company, the so-called “careers” page intended for recruitment offers is like a kind of poor relation, with an old photo without soul, few colors, where everything is obsolete. Clothes are the same. There's a sort of cultural complex that says you might sell a PowerPoint better if you're in a suit and a shirt. We need to have a sort of shell to sell better.

We live in a country that loves traditions, which has a particular idea of ​​what elegance should be. I'm not saying that a suit is worse than jeans, I'm saying that you need everything. I say that the opposite camp, that of the costume, must accept that anyone who does not dress like him is also credible to sell something.

At the same time, if the suit is a cliché element of the corporate world, there is also a kind of cliché on the start-up side, right?

Start-ups are all driven by some sort of mission. These companies want to reinvent everything: technology, the way of interacting with the environment, employment. And it also works with style. We tell ourselves that we can work in another way than in a suit, to the point that it becomes a mantra and a cliché. Some people excessively cultivate a sort of creative style to show that they are not a penny of corporate. You must be in a t-shirt, an overshirt or work jacket (Hast preferably), wear slightly loose jeans, have nice sneakers, Veja for example and, of course, come to work by bike.

The majority of start-ups are people in the CSP+ category, who studied in preparatory classes and business schools, who may come from good families and who, in their own ways, have also been conditioned by these environments.

Let's just say that people started to let go a little. Those with a little more classic styles have started wearing hoodies during our zoom conferences.

We're not going to lie, we embody a bit of all that at Welcome To The Jungle. We are a box of sores, us. Back home, people are a bit alike. It's like that. I am absolutely not advocating that to be better, you have to wear jeans, just as I am not advocating that to have a successful business, you necessarily need a large open space, and a table football. There are some who are better in suits, in small offices, and that's very good. The most important thing is to know how to stay true, not to try to be cool by all means. There are boxes made for people in costumes, which work very well that way.

When you're a start-up, is it easy to recruit different people?

It can be hard. I, too, sometimes cringe when I see someone who seems to have made no effort. We can take this as a sign of disinterest on the part of the candidate, almost as an insult. We have to manage to go beyond that, to put this feeling aside. You have to try to want to know the person you are dealing with, and that is not necessarily easy. I have already seen people with poorly buttoned shirts, with dirty clothes, who, in reality, were shapely heads, super geeks. The only thing that matters is being able to see if the person will be good for the company.

Are there any eccentrics at Welcome To The Jungle?

There are still some, yes, and fortunately. We have very stylish people who would blend in perfectly with the decor of the most fashionable places in New York. We have hard rockers all in leather, who really claim it. On the production side, there are street guys who also really like to show it off, and that suits them well. I'm not saying it's a permanent show, but people like to say what world they're affiliated with. I think it's quite healthy. And everyone works, above all! When our clients come to our offices, they are often disappointed. They expect to discover an extraordinary world, a sort of zoo where you skate through the corridors, with a can of soda in your hand and where you hang out. No, back home, people work. It's studious.

Have the looks changed with confinement?

Let's just say that people started to let go a little. Those with a little more classic styles have started wearing hoodies during our zoom conferences. They work very well like that, and I think they say to themselves that now they can also dress like that at the office.

The confinement helped open a few chakras, I think. We look good in jogging pants, we look good in a chambray shirt , we look good in a hoodie. That said, I'm not entirely optimistic either. It's the same thing as this guy who comes back from Bali telling everyone that he swears everywhere that he will only eat seeds and pray to Kirshna every morning. I'm not sure it will last very long. Normality will certainly take over. People will return to their habits. I feel it.

At a very young age, you dreamed of becoming a pianist. Before launching Welcome To The Jungle, you were a sound engineer. And the style? Have you always had the same one?

I didn't have any style at first. For years, I had no money, I made a living from music, I did productions for free to make myself known and I didn't have the means to build a special wardrobe. Plus, I only worked with studio rats who didn't care about fashion, who wore the same old t-shirt with a Led Zeppelin logo for twenty years. It didn't help.

When I started earning a living as I approached thirty, I became interested in clothes. To fill my closets, I took inspiration from what I saw in magazines, I picked up ideas for brands and silhouettes. Very quickly, I adopted a standard but good quality look.

It's like everything in life: once I put my finger in it, I never stopped. I like this. I couldn't be anything other than that today, whatever I do, whether it's imagining things for Welcome To The Jungle or, as will soon be the case, starring in a web- series, and to do a one-man show on stage. This look, this diversity in the way I present myself, with my sneakers, my jeans, my shirts (Hast of course!), is what is strongest about me today. If Welcome To The Jungle continues to grow, I hope to stay the same. I found myself.


Photo credit: Laurence Revol (thank you)