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Francine Gervazio, CEO Avrios, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #309 - Francine Gervazio: Becoming CEO of a High-Growth SaaS Company

Francine Gervazio

March 23, 2023

6:42 - The freight industry

13:41 - The true cost of every vehicle

18:46 - From VP of Customer Success to CEO

27:00 - Operating system of a high growth company

39:13 - CEOs being hands-on with finance

About Francine Gervazio:

⁠Francine Gervazio⁠ is the CEO at ⁠Avrios⁠, an innovative fleet management software. She holds an MBA from the Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, Massachusetts, and previously worked at companies like Aquila Institute and Rocket Internet SE. She founded her first and only venture, cargo32, back in 2015, but an incohesive founder team resulted in the failure of the company. She joined Avrios’ ranks as VP of Customer Success in 2018.

Founded in 2015 in Zurich by a team of serial entrepreneurs, Avrios currently manages the fleet of more than 1.000 customers in Europe and is one of the fastest growing companies in the SaaS space. They make the lives of fleet managers much easier by using AI to automate all the data management which before was done manually. They also help companies calculate the “true cost” of each of their vehicles: this means not only fuel, maintenance, repairs, and etc, but also the environmental cost. They then provide companies with webinars, ebooks and even an academy in order to help them go green. They service companies with fleets as small as 20 vehicles and as big as 78’000.

In 2021 Francine became CEO of Avrios, which altered her life quite a bit: a lot more traveling, a lot more responsibility, and many more sleepless nights. Avrios’ operational system is divided into 7 “departments” (finance & operations, people & culture, sales, marketing, customer success, product, and engineering), all kept on track through the use of OKRs.

They credit their great company culture to the following factors:

  • They hire in an unbiased way, which organically resulted in a quite diverse team;
  • They’re adamant on their “no drama” policy. This means: speak openly, instead of gossiping; be humble and curious; and let go of “being right”;
  • They take pains to make employees feel like they are cared about, but also challenged.

In late 2022 Avrios was acquired by Battery Ventures to form an integrated company with Vimcar. M&A processes are extremely common in the freight industry, because it’s a hard-to-define, highly fragmented market (i.e., each company does something different), where growth happens slowly. This means M&A is a quick way for freight industry companies to grow and which also benefits their customers, because of the complementarity between the services of these companies.

Memorable Quotes:

"I’m fully against going fully remote, but I like giving employees the flexibility to stay home a few days out of the week."

"When you fundraise, you don’t want to have just 1 term sheet. You’ll want to have 5, because you need to negotiate."

If you would like to listen to more conversations with external CEOs, check out our episode with smallpdf's ⁠Dennis Just⁠.

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