The global corporate sector is undergoing a transformation, and what previously worked is no longer viable. It’s time for 21st-century business norms to be rewritten by visionary entrepreneurs, inventive techies, and change-makers.
The way businesses run also needs a breath of new air in this time of continual and worldwide change. Visionary entrepreneurship discovers creative techniques to supply effective public services and enhance the economy via the use of cutting-edge technology, transforming how enterprises engage with clients and make a difference.
Some entrepreneurs achieve their goal of material success, but few extraordinary visionaries, like Dr. Laurent Lebrun, Founder, President, and CEO of Hprobe, desire to create worldwide transformation.
Dr. Lebrun has 12 years of experience as a CEO in metrology, machining, and machine-tool firms, and has successfully turned around three small businesses. He was hired by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in 2016 to work with the Linksium SATT (Société d’Accélération du Transfert de Technologies) incubator for the Grenoble-Alps area to industrialize spintronics technology, which resulted in the formation of Hprobe in early 2017. Laurent Lebrun graduated from Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts et Métiers (ENSAM) in Paris, France, with a Ph.D. in innovative product design and a Business School certification.
At the start of Hprobe, Laurent met a visionary lab director, Jean-Pierre Nozières, creator and former director of Spintec, one of the world’s premier spintronics research laboratories. Together, they started a project, with the aid of the French government, to manufacture magnetic testers with a unique approach to properly test MRAM (Magnetic Random Access Memory), a new non-volatile memory device technology. Hprobe’s success was built on the intersection of technology and prospects’ desires to create a tester that was well-suited to real-world requirements.
Hprobe, a spin-off business of Spintec, was founded in March 2017 and is situated in Grenoble (France). It benefits from many years of research in the field of magnetic testing.
Hprobe can now provide a proprietary multidimensional magnetic field generator for the characterization and testing of magnetic devices and magnetic sensors. Testing time is the key performance indicator in production and a strong added value to reducing development time. Building the optimal wafer test equipment dedicated to MRAM technology with the maximum flexibility and shortest testing time brings strong value during the development phase and reduces the ramp-up time to high-volume manufacturing.
In all phases of magnetic technology development, specific instruments for the characterization and testing of MRAM and magnetic sensors are available. The company is now collaborating with all major semiconductor foundries globally that produce MRAM devices. MRAM is useful in areas that need to address memory technology issues by increasing durability and performance, including aerospace, automotive, defense, robotics, healthcare, IoT, edge computing, energy management and automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
The Story of Visions and Achievements
Laurent started his work at a technology firm where he earned his Ph.D. He worked on the industrial machine design process. Laurent acquired his first firm and developed it for 12 years after working at a large corporation where he oversaw design and industrialization teams.
Laurent decided to embark on a new journey in 2015, this time in the field of microelectronics. He chose to create his own business based on his skills as a designer, manager, and entrepreneur. He shares, “The best recognition for me as a leader was from people who trusted me and supported me to create and develop Hprobe.”
When he created Hprobe, Laurent intended to build a firm that was built on technology but also accessible to the needs and desires of its clients. MRAM technology has made a significant contribution to the advancement of microelectronic applications across the world, as well as to the reduction of data retention power consumption. Memory devices require more data but less power, according to Laurent. As a result, Hprobe is pleased to contribute to the development of a technology that has the potential to reduce global energy consumption.
Laurent has created a new type of organization to drive everyone. He asserts, “Holacracy, which increases ownership and engagement, embraces our individual humanity, autonomy, and creative problem-solving capacities. This is very important for me and how I keep everybody positive and motivated.” He further adds that Holacracy provides a clear, formal, and flexible structure without requiring a hierarchy. This system of management is based on a constitution, which is precisely the purpose of Hprobe: who is in charge of what and the relationship between each other. Each person knows his purpose and what he has to deliver to other people.
Learning from Mistakes
In Greek, the word “crisis” can be translated as “difficulty” but also as “decision to be taken”. A challenge is always an opportunity to progress if you have a positive outlook on the future. Of the two management adventures, Laurent had before launching Hprobe, one ended in bankruptcy. As he sees it, this personal failure was important because it allowed him to step back and carefully manage the growth of Hprobe. He opines, “The biggest challenge was to anticipate Hprobe’s development and financing based on very few indicators of the market we were trying to enter.” He also adds, “To be the first in our market, I anticipated the growth of the team as well as the fundraising to be ready when future clients needed a solution to test their devices.”
Personal and Professional Work
Laurent’s primary role at Hprobe is to ensure that every team member understands the company’s mission and can use his ingenuity to help it expand. To remain the foremost global provider of magnetic testers for MRAM and magnetic sensors, he must predict the resources the team will require.
Laurent’s children are now self-sufficient, and his wife is a strong supporter who understands his goals. He also serves as a deputy mayor in his town, which is a highly significant and fulfilling position for him. He has faith in his team’s ability to know what they’re doing and to execute it well. So, Laurent’s job is not to do their job or tell them what to do but to be sure everyone works in a positive working environment.
Hprobe organization, based on Holacracy, is also a very good system to keep balance in personal and professional life: each person is autonomous in his work and doesn’t have to ask Laurent what he has to do.
Perspective on Success
Laurent does not believe he has achieved the success he had hoped for. He states, “We have big challenges in front of us, but we have the team to succeed in this market. I have a dream for Hprobe: to be the magnetic tester provider leader in the world.” His personal dream after retiring from Hprobe in a few years will be to spend time helping other entrepreneurs succeed.
For Laurent, striving to be useful to the world leads to success, like being useful for the environment, health, relationships between people, peace, personal development, etc. He says, “When your goal is to be useful, your focus is on others and the world, not on yourself, and that’s when you become successful.”
Hprobe is at the forefront of the development of innovative energy-saving devices. Hprobe’s success will be realized when major semiconductor manufacturers form commercial relationships with the company, install Hprobe testers in production, and recognize Hprobe as the best partner for developing new magnetic-based devices such as MRAM and a new generation of magnetic sensors.
The future of Hprobe will be the future of the technology the team can test with its magnetic testers: MRAM and magnetic sensors. Laurent states, “When these new technologies ramp up, we need to find good industry partnerships to stay the best in the world.”
Laurent’s main personal goal is to succeed in the growth of Hprobe with the team involved in the company. His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to base your business on your client’s “pain points” or “dreams,” put together a good team to deliver it, and sell your solution at the right price in relation to the clients’ pain.