Julien Barbier

Co-founder, TechMeAbroad

Product: TechMeAbroad.com
A job board with postings uniquely from companies willing to recruit overseas
Vertical: Job-search, recruitment
Tags: Employment, visa, technology, ex-patriates, immigration
Stage: MVP
Co-founders: Sylvain Kalache
Location: San Francisco, CA

Born in L’Hay-les-Roses, near Paris, France. Studied biotechnology and biochemistry. Studied Computer Science at Epitech, then Economic Warfare. Launched “rateyourcompany” (the French “Glassdoor”) and sold it in October 2009. Moved to Silicon Valley in 2012 to work for dotCloud which then became Docker. Launched TechMeAbroad.com in 2015.
64% of the world’s job seekers are willing to relocate abroad for their dream job. A lot of graduates want to work in a different country and discover a new culture. But they are struggling to find a company overseas which would be willing to sponsor a work visa for them.

Today, in the US alone there are 5 million unfilled job vacancies because of a shortage of talent. Companies cannot find enough talent locally to sustain their growth. We are helping them find skilled workers abroad who would love to come and fill that gap.

He who dares, wins.
My family, my friends, and every person I meet, read, talk to or help, are my mentors. Everyone has a different path, vision and experience. They are all my mentors and influencers because I learn from all of them.

MY STORY

Until the end of high school I really struggled with education. Sitting for hours in class was not my thing. I nearly dropped out of high school many times, but with the support of my parents I managed to finish and put it behind me.

“Specialization is for ants”

After high school I didn’t really know what to do next. I started with a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology, then Biochemistry. After that, I discovered programming and soon enough I was spending my entire time coding and reverse engineering software. I went to Epitech (European Institute of Technology) and got my master’s degree in Computer Science. I then took night classes to obtain a Master’s in Economic Warfare. I know that having degrees in so many different fields sounds strange but I don’t think humans are meant to do only one thing in their lives. There are so many things to learn and discover; specialization is for ants.

I then started my career as a software engineer, while juggling a lot of side projects and saving some money to launch my own company, one day.

rateyourcompany grows like crazy

One weekend a side project grew so fast that my roommate and I decided to persevere with it. It was a website called rateyourcompany where employees could grade their employers. We had huge success with this product. Users were extremely happy and sent us many “thank-you” emails. We had great coverage and were growing rapidly.

Unfortunately we then got sued by so many French companies that we had to sell the company because we were losing so much money. A few months later, Glassdoor raised several million dollars in the US. This thought struck me: How could we be sued and have no help in France, while with the exact same product, another company raised millions in funding in the US? The seed was planted in my head that I would have to go to the US at some point in my life.

Tasting success in e-commerce

After rateyourcompany I also launched an e-commerce company in France specializing in selling goods that were hard to find. I started with 5,000 euros — everything that was left in my bank account — so really no funding at all. It worked well but I quickly realized that the French market was too small, so I decided to move the company to the U.S. There I had access to a larger market — larger, but also also more competitive. It’s a good thing I love challenges. I co-founded the company in Miami because we had to ship goods to Europe so it made sense to be on the east coast. I grew it until we were acquired, 3 years ago, by a UK company that I’ve agreed not to name. When we sold, we had 30 niche markets in our portfolio.

As a software engineer, one of my dreams was to work in Silicon Valley. I remember when I graduated, I sent my resumes to so many U.S. tech companies, without ever getting any answers. But when I visited Silicon Valley, I stumbled upon a friend from Epitech who was looking for talent to hire for his new company, dotCloud. He offered me a job as head of growth and marketing, and I moved to Silicon Valley with my wife a few weeks later.

From dotCloud to Docker

Shortly after I joined dotCloud, the company pivoted and we started Docker, an open platform for developers. Docker was the perfect pivot, and the product is now used by millions of developers around the World. I had the chance to be part of its hyper-growth. The company, product and community are simply incredible. It was a crazy and extremely inspirational experience.

While working at Docker, I also co-created a French tech engineers network called while42. The network is a non-profit, and started in San Francisco with 12 french software engineers. while42 is now present in 45 cities around the world, and has 3,000 active members.

while42 sparks a unique jobs board

As the network grew we got a lot of requests from both French tech engineers who wanted to work abroad and companies which wanted to recruit French tech talent and were willing to sponsor their work visas. We started to make introductions, and as the requests became more and more frequent I launched a Tumblr blog to connect people. It worked well first, but soon enough engineers from other countries heard about it and applied to job postings. The same thing happened with companies. That’s when we decided that if we wanted to help all of those people it could not be only a side project, so Sylvain and I left our jobs to work on TechMeAbroad full-time.

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