Entrepreneurs Forever 2015 | Version française

Antonin Léonard

Cofounder of Ouishare

He runs the pioneer think-and-do tank of the share economy.

When speaking to young graduates, Antonin Léonard encourages them to make uncompromising choices: « Don't just look for a job, create the job of your dreams!  » And that's just what he did with OuiShare, an international community with 3,000 members which promotes the collaborative economy.
Interested in geo-politics, he was struck by the first documentaries made by Michael Moore. Over and above the festive mindset of the Adhémar Cup which he organised with the School's Ski Club, his studies at EMLYON helped him to discover lessons on social entrepreneurship. « I was really attracted by the economy, how to have a double impact on society, ‘’profit and non profit’’. »
His first internships led him to Argentina twice. He helped a tourist association in Buenos Aires to develop a service very much like the ‘’Greeters’’, those volunteers who help people to visit their town. Then he did an assignment for a big Audit firm. « I felt exalted in meeting really erudite people, with a constant joie de vivre despite a difficult economic situation. » 

I am a bit uncomfortable with freedom when it underlies a liberal philosophy whose limits are clear to me. But freedom is also autonomy, one of the biggest drivers of intrinsic motivation for work. The influence of OuiShare relies on this creative independence, associated with benevolence and solidarity.

The following year he was again an intern, this time with Methodia, who specialise in pedagogical innovation. «This amazing experience confirmed my entrepreneurial vocation, and Nicolas Bourgerie, the founder, also an alumni, became one of my mentors. »
He seized the opportunity of a university exchange programme with Brazil to follow the best MBA course in Latin America, which included a course on economic models for internet. He wanted a low cost way to learn Portuguese, so he went ‘’Couchsurfing’’, the free version of Airbnb. «Those discoveries were to have a huge impact on what happened next. »
He finished his studies in Barcelona, where he followed courses in drama, and surfed on internet, looking for information about digital and social innovation. « I used to spend 10 hours a day; I started Twitting, and ended up creating my own blog about collaborative consumption. »
In 2010, Antonin Léonard was in Paris, surfing between ends of course internships and odd jobs, when the first major digital events started springing up. His parents were getting worried!
In 2011, one of his articles appeared in the media. « I had been identified as an expert on the subject. » And in 2012, he thought up OuiShare, a collaborative international blog completed by events, like the OuiShare Fest, which first took place in May 2013. « OuiShare was born in a spontaneous and organic manner, from the intuition shared by our community in 15 towns all over the world that our economy was transforming. When we started, we didn't have any business plan, we were hoping to find a sustainable model later on. »
The beginnings were extremely precarious, before the first partners came on board, the MAIF insurance company, and the French railway SNCF, who OuiShare accompanied in the transition towards these new models. Today the association helps a number of new projects to come to life, all of them auto-financed: two accelerators, one dedicated to start-ups, the other to open source projects (‘’POC21’’), and a structure which helps companies, were launched in 2015. « At a given moment in time, the ecosystem of innovation becomes benevolent: it recognises positive initiatives, and rallies around. » 
At OuiShare, there is no organisation chart, and no executive committee, just connectors, who are all ‘’doers’’ and ‘’thinkers’’. Antonin Léonard cultivates empathy with all the stakeholders, in order to help projects grow and make the community bigger. They meet every six months for a ‘Summit’’ meeting in a European capital.  « We defend spontaneity, agility, basic trust, and the culture of giving. »

EM Lyon: Programme Grande Ecole 2010 / Msc in Management
Translation : Carole Bausor, ILTC
Date de parution : 01/06/15