Our benefactors

David Reynier’s interview

Hello David,

You have been the first patron to believe in our project, and to help us, either with your time or your skills (LIFT’s logo was designed by your team!) or by funding the launching costs of the school. Can you tell us a few words about you and your background in Taiwan?

Good morning. I am very happy to say a few words about my involvement in LIFT. I come from Nîmes, I grew up in the South of France. I stopped studying very early. I worked in the restaurant trade for several years then I went back to school at first for a BTS in commercial action, while keeping working in restaurant trade, then a second time, when I was 25, in business school, than in management/entrepreneurship master’s degree. I studied as an apprentice, in Casinos, then in management control for Coca-Cola. I specialized in management control and finance, and substituted maternity leaves, because it is a good way to often change company, see different financial cycles. It enabled me to enter the “fast-track” to become the CFO of a French company in China. But I also got married to a Taiwanese woman back then, so I landed in Taiwan, without really having opportunities in my field.

After one year in Taiwan, I met the person that was to become my partner. He recruited me as a business analyst for his start-up, which was facing difficulties back then. In 2015, I became partner, then we launched a second firm, then a new one every year after that, as well as a “venture studio” to unblock some ideas. We created a group of 150 people, until the first sale in January 2020 and the business sharing between partners. Today I work full time on Termly, that offers legal compliance for SMEs. We have 600 000 clients, and we collect 45 millions consents a month. Today our group, specialized in SAS, holds 85 employees, we work for one third in the USA, one third in Asia and one third in Europe. est constitué de 85 employés, nous travaillons pour un tiers sur les Etats-Unis, un tiers en Asie et un tiers en Europe.

I was always closer to the Taiwanese business community than to the French one here.

How did you meet LIFT’s team?

I met Stéphanie Froissart by chance in 2018 during a meeting with member of Parliament Anne Genetet with the French business community. It was the first time I was meeting the French business community in Taipei, and I discovered the issues of schooling in french. I was very sensitive to the fact that there are only few schools in Taiwan that stands out of the taiwanese traditional education and no international schools competitive regarding the rates. Foreign communities in Taiwan are not the same as in Hong-Kong or Singapore where expats communities can afford very expensive international schools. I was sensitive to this idea of creating a republican school, more open and more inclusive, that welcomes pupils of taiwanese nationality, because I schooled my daughter in an international kindergarten, and it is when I had to show my french passport during enrollment that I realized how much the Taiwanese were deprived of these international schools.

At the end of the meeting, I offered to make available resources, either logistical, for instance regarding facilities or graphic design. Stéphanie and the parents with her back then took the offer; I hired the first project manager of LIFT, in order to make a donation for the project.

What prompted you to fund this project? What ideas did you like in the vision carried by this school?
Indeed there was the project and the team, but in reality, it is a part of my personal history. One of my partners was diagnosed with a rather aggressive cancer when he was young, and we had to support this colleague that had infants. This made a deep impression on us, and prompted us to reconsider the meaning we were giving to what we were doing. After his remission, we thought about our luck of being where we are and the group took the habit to make donations, without enhancing them, in a discreet way. LIFT was fitting this approach.

What is your perception of LIFT’s first steps?

Making this project get the ball rolling really was not easy, it was a real obstacle course, difficult ordeals. Since then the project evolved regarding the timeline: we were aiming for very big very fast, with big investments, then you repositioned yourselves on a more realistic vision on short and medium term. The rhythm of the project is a little different, but the philosophy remains the same, the one of a republican school, opened to the taiwanese, inclusive, trilingual. And that is what matters at the scale of a class, no matter whether there are 5 or 1.

What advice would you like to give our teams as an entrepreneur?

It was the right strategy, the most viable. As entrepreneurs that never raised funds, we are very familiar with a pragmatic vision of development rather than linked to risk-taking. LIFT matches my entrepreneur’s vision, the one of a mastered risk, rather than a growing at all costs. I see many projects that raise big funds, that are very ambitious, that accept an important part of risk. I don’t see this in a school, you don’t set up a school to sell it after 5 years. You build a brand for the long term; it might be less prestigious, but what matters is the education the children are going to receive, not the epic dimension of its creation or its development. Growth will come later, and it makes me happy seeing LIFT achieved that.

What is the ideal school for you?

My dream has always been to go back in South of France with my family. We think about it a lot. But LIFT raised a new, unexpected, question: LIFT matches exactly the school I want for my children! Without LIFT, there would be no doubt regarding going back in France. We settled in Hualien for the quality of life, but LIFT really contributes to Taipei’s attractivity, so much that we consider once again this city that we already know well, as a possible choice.

I am very grateful to LIFT’s team for giving me the opportunity to take part to this adventure, and I am very impressed by the work accomplished by the teams. I look forward to visiting the school in the coming weeks.