Patrick Amiel (EDHEC Master 1996)

Published on 24/04/2020
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It all started with the applause at 8pm, followed by the candles on window sills at 10pm to pay homage to our healthcare workers. Patrick Amiel (EDHEC Master 1996) is the founder and CEO of 321founded, a consultant and investor in start-ups working in real estate, videogames, oenology and temping. His wife is a pharmacist, so it goes without saying that this serial entrepreneur’s everyday routine has been anything but normal.

Patrick Amiel first expressed his fears in relation to activities at the pharmacy. He helped his wife open boxes that had been delivered as some staff members were absent and began to realise the scale of the failings facing society. Some customers at the pharmacy are in a state of “disarray”, from medical staff facing a lack of resources in hospitals to citizens severely affected by the coronavirus. The government then delivered equipment to healthcare professionals but in insufficient quantities. The cold truth was that masks could not be delivered to everyone. During this time, Patrick kept busy helping his wife as best he could: he placed yellow markings on the ground to ensure adequate space between customers queueing outside the pharmacy and laid down new rules for serving them inside.

  "Just wanted to share some safeguards for stores.
In the absence of official recommendations, here’s what I’ve put in place at my wife’s pharmacy:
- markings on the floor 2 m apart
- 2 pers. max. inside / if things worsen, service outdoors
- distance of 1.5m from the counter"

 

But how could he go even further? Patrick decided to act and make an impact! With a series of tweets, he shared the recommendations of doctors and talked to those in his network about their primary needs and also to get an idea of the number of COVID-19 victims among his contacts.

  "How many cases of #covid19 are there in your life, whether early symptoms at home, hospitalised or deceased (close friends + family)?
Just to help some of you realise the scale of this...
Zero
Fewer than 5
Between 5 and 10
More than 10"

As well as delivering pizzas to hospitals, he launched the Masks4France initiative with other entrepreneurs. A crowdfunding campaign on Ulule was set up to raise the money needed, in tranches of €30,000, to provide masks for carers. Patrick took actions on a local scale and reached out to his professional network as well as celebrities (including Patrick Bruel and Gad Elmaleh). Comedian Anne Roumanoff got on board and handed him the mic on 1 April on Europe 1. His message was that we cannot keep “stumbling along” to ensure decent working conditions for the heroes of this health crisis. And to succeed, continued financial support for the project was needed: the first order was placed on 5 April (for delivery late April), but the sense of urgency did not abate.

  "I’ve been talking to several doctors, frankly it’s havoc. And the peak has yet to come.
Friends and I are delivering meals and through the @masks4france initiative we’re raising money to buy masks.
Can you contribute a few € to place the first order?
€1 donated = 2 masks delivered to carers"

Occasional moments of relaxation at home were marred by daily events, as the official figures pointing to a recession made it clear that economic activities had to continue. “A minority of businesses have become aware that they must and can change starting today and are launching innovative projects despite the circumstances. And decision-making circuits have changed: everything is faster and more streamlined at the moment”. All the more reason to come to the aid of entrepreneurs in difficulty who, with a little helping hand, can transform an idea into something priceless. Patrick launched the Vieux Schnocks initiative with Mickael Cabrol (CEO of Easyrecrue) and Guillaume-Olivier Doré (CEO of MieuxPlacer.com). Following interviews, these three experienced sailors will select three young entrepreneurs to get their business off the ground. “This is a response to a crisis and is about more than mere actions. It nourishes the brain and creativity!”, explains Patrick.

With the contracts he was getting ready to sign with major firms listed on the CAC40 suffering from setbacks, Patrick wondered how he could make a positive impact in his everyday life. A few mysterious sentences on his Twitter feed set the tone: “Working on a new positive big thing. Live next week… #ChangeNow”. He also shared his observations in lockdown.

  "A few personal observations about this #lockdown:
- I love my neighbourhood stores: connection, loyalty, human experience
- consume less and better: a priority and a pleasure
- the return of board games: Uno, Risk, Monopoly
- still addicted to screens ...
- cooking, kneading dough"

He asked his readers for feedback on their local stores, noting that two bakeries in his neighbourhood had joined forces and that the large supermarkets and GAFA could continue their operations to the detriment of local stores (mostly closed).

 

"Arrrrggghhh ... I want a magic wand to help:
- medical staff/carers to protect themselves
- stores and drivers who continue to be exposed
- farmers working for so little
- students in vulnerable positions
- etc...
Ping @masks4france"

 

 

 

 

"Faced with the risk of local stores going bankrupt, are you willing to commit to only shopping in your neighbourhood in 2020?
And to stick to your commitment.
Yes
No
Don’t know"


I talked to quite a few shopkeepers and teamed up with my associate Romain Ledru-Mathé, and in just two nights we set up an online platform to deliver orders to pick-up outlets. We’ve already got going with a bookshop, a florist and an ice-cream vendor. And we intend to expand the initiative to defend as many local shopkeepers as possible. We need to reach out to consumers while there’s still time!”. This led to the website 321quartiers.com.

Patrick has never been so busy as he has been since mid-March.

  "My 4+ weeks of lockdown
Week #1: shock, KO, helping out at wife’s pharmacy
Week #2: @masks4france fundraising to supply masks
Week #3: relaunched @321founded and mulling over next project
Week #4: 321F + “vieux schnocks” initiative to help entrepreneurs
Week #5: launch a new thing
Entrepreneur4Ever"


He went on to say: “This period is doing away with a lot of barriers. The dichotomy between our behaviour in business and in our private lives is no longer tenable. The decisions made by companies come from people who have a certain number of values which they apply to their personal and professional environments”. He says that while “space-time is clearly changing”, the efforts he has deployed have different levels of porousness, irrigated by notions of sustainability, solidarity and territory.

Patrick concludes with an anecdote: “When I was at EDHEC, I set up an association called EDHAIGLE to help youths placed in social and educational centres. Jean-Jacques Goldman (EDHEC Master 1973) agreed, for the first time I think, to sponsor an association. Since then, to quote one of Goldman's songs Il changeait la vie, I have been convinced that ‘Far from fine discourse, grand theories / By his actions each day, it could be said of him / He was changing the world’”. An anthem for the lockdown?

 

Career change? Moving house?