In this episode of French Insider, Victoire Lester, CEO of Coucou, joins host Sarah Ben-Moussa to discuss the experience of building a company in the United States from the ground up, including Coucou's approach to hiring and training native-speaking French language instructors, its strategy for attracting American customers, and their experience recruiting and managing a mixed-nationality workforce.

What We Discussed in this Episode

  • Can you tell us a bit about your background?
  • How did you become involved with Coucou?
  • What was behind the founding of Coucou? Where did the idea come from?
  • How does Coucou go about hiring and training instructors?
  • How does Coucou's approach to hiring impact the learning experience?
  • What was it like coming to the U.S. and building a company from the ground up?
  • What motivated Coucou to expand its offerings?
  • What was Coucou's experience during COVID? Where did the company come out on the other side?
  • Can you tell us a bit about the streaming platform being developed by a Coucou founder?
  • What was Coucou's strategy for attracting U.S. customers?
  • Can you speak to the experience of recruiting and managing a mixed-nationality workforce of French and American people?
  • What were some resources Coucou utilized during the last 10 years of growth?
  • Would you recommend companies retain a public relations agency?
  • What's one piece of advice you'd offer a French entrepreneur seeking to launch a company in the U.S.?

About Victoire Lester

Victoire Lester is CEO of Coucou, a New York City and Los Angeles-based language school offering culturally savvy, native-taught French classes, in person or online. A Paris native, she joined Coucous as a part-time French instructor in 2016 and was promoted to director of operations just three years later. As CEO, Victoire handles marketing, product development, and operations. She was also responsible for Coucou's successful transition to an online program in 2020, which has been instrumental in the company's growth.

When she's not helping Coucou grow, Victoire enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga, and indulging in her love of wine, cheese, and oysters.

About Sarah F. Ben-Moussa

Sarah F. Ben-Moussa is an associate in the Corporate Practice Group in Sheppard Mullin's New York office, where her practice focuses on domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, financings and corporate governance matters. As a member of the firm's French Desk, she has advised companies and private equity funds in both the United States and Europe on mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, financings, complex commercial agreements, and general corporate matters.

As a member of Sheppard Mullin's Energy, Infrastructure and Project Finance team, Sarah also represents renewable energy companies, borrowers, financial sponsors, portfolio companies, commercial banks and other financial institutions in a variety of financing transactions. Her practice focuses on a variety of transactions in the energy sphere, representing renewable energy companies in project-level debt and equity financings of wind and solar facilities.

Before joining Sheppard Mullin, Sarah spent a year and a half studying and working in France, focusing on corporate transactions and commercial contracts in Europe and internationally. Sarah is also committed to pro bono work, focusing on cases involving children seeking asylum or other immigration-related relief.

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