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Champions Journey - The Persevering Entrepreneur

After a solid engineering education and an early passion for the aviation sector, Maxime Meijers embarked on an entrepreneurial adventure by co-founding Estuaire, a startup incubated within the EDHEC Entrepreneurs network at STATION F. Accompanied by his brother Nicolas, Maxime aims to transform the sector by making it more sustainable with a visionary outlook and strong convictions. Welcome aboard his daily life at over 10,000 meters altitude.

Reading time :
10 Jul 2024
Maxime Meijers - EDHEC

Entrepreneurs and aerobatic pilots each achieve much more than impressive technical stunts.

Our special series "Champions Journey" celebrates those who dare to dream and create with passion, discipline, resilience, and determination. Discover these champions who are shaping the future and are part of our EDHEC Entrepreneurs community!



A passion leading to a single destination


Born in Toulouse, the world's aeronautics capital, Maxime Meijers grew up in an ecosystem heavily influenced by aviation. His parents themselves worked for Airbus, creating a form of "family attachment to the sector" among their children. Maxime quickly developed a passion for the sector, dreaming of becoming a pilot or an astronaut. He earned his aviation initiation certificate and began flight lessons in high school. "I loved gaining altitude! When you go flying, you understand the world you live in better."


His interest in Lego and then in technology gradually steered him toward engineering studies, which he later wanted to connect with his passion for aviation. After a research internship in the United States on hydrogen's potential to become the new aviation fuel, Maxime started his career in an aerospace consulting firm.


His career is intensely colored by this sector, from which he never strayed. Within Airbus's Munich offices, which he joined two years later, Maxime began working on an electric aircraft project and studied the sector's environmental impact more deeply: "You look at the impact of construction [of an aircraft], its operational life, from a climatic, biodiversity, or human health perspective."


Driven by his passion for aviation, Maxime had only one idea in mind and persevered like a top athlete to evolve in the sector's highest spheres. He applied to become an astronaut, narrowly missing the selection, which led him to resign from Airbus and fully dive into entrepreneurship by founding Estuaire!




Estuaire, a high-flying startup


Convinced that aviation cannot be completely eliminated, Maxime and his brother, Nicolas Meijers, are equally aware of its ecological "calamity" and strive to "think of a more responsible way to travel." They co-founded Estuaire, a data platform that enables aviation stakeholders to efficiently monitor and reduce their climate impact while considering associated costs.


With their monitoring product, Estuaire offers a database that analyzes all commercial flights worldwide. This data interests airlines, manufacturers, and financiers in the sector. But with Estuaire, Maxime and Nicolas also aim to provide a clear response to the so-called "non-CO2 effects," particularly the contrails produced by aircraft.


Committed to this fight to decarbonize the aviation sector, Maxime and his brother closely follow IPCC reports that have been warning about non-CO2 effects for over 20 years and finally see European-level regulations on the subject. This fight also involves an educational role "by informing our clients about what's happening, following recommendations, and offering open-source content to various stakeholders, like some of our data in a free and aggregated form on our site."


Although Estuaire is currently a small player compared to the large companies in the aviation sector, it holds its own and gains the trust of more prominent clients. Like great champions, Maxime and Nicolas are among those who start small but, through relentless effort, turn their efforts into achievements and gain recognition for their work. "One of our greatest prides is the trust of our clients. Sure, we are somewhat legitimate, thanks to our past experiences. We didn’t just appear out of nowhere. But it’s great to think that even small, we can really change things and have an impact."




“Hard work always pays off”


Having gone through preparatory classes, Maxime observes that it’s not necessarily those with ease who succeed, but those who "have worked hard because they have developed a mentality of always continuing." Daily, he makes it a point to apply this mindset in his professional life, never giving up in the face of rejections he encounters.

"Every day I bounce back," is this idea of always returning to the ring and going for it! But beyond the resilience needed as an entrepreneur, Maxime talks about the necessity of being persistent in the face of obstacles. This persistence, according to him, is acquired in the field and rooted in his deep conviction in his project!

Estuaire Startup EDHEC

"I think it’s easier to be an entrepreneur than a top-level athlete, especially regarding the sacrifices and level of resilience needed to perform at the top level today. Entrepreneurship is a job and a human adventure, but there’s everything else on the side. For an athlete, that’s all there is."

It is through a series of failures and obstacles that Maxime has learned to forge this persistence by taking a step back and admitting that these setbacks should not be "made into a mountain." Humble and aware of his condition, he readily admits that while resilience brings entrepreneurs and athletes closer, the parallel cannot be taken to the extreme.




Close Circle for Triumph


To overcome the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, Maxime relies on his family and close friends forming a "safe place" where he can recharge and come back stronger. "It’s not said enough, but when you know you can always count on them, it’s easier to go and undertake, because you know you’ll always have your back base."


A back base that is also at the forefront of his adventure, as it is with his own brother Nicolas that Maxime embarked on creating Estuaire. Although starting a business together was not an obvious choice initially, their shared understanding of the topics and their synergy allow them to quickly grasp different issues and propel their project towards the stars. This close family and mental connection, however, implies not sidelining the rest of their team. Both are keen to listen and include their team in decisions while ensuring not to fall into "excessive benevolence."


Ultimately, the humility and persistence that characterize Maxime place him on the podium's top step. Convinced that there is a more sustainable future for the aviation sector, the co-founder of Estuaire strives to overcome all challenges to develop a viable solution alongside his brother. A family cooperation that allows him to live an adventure rich in encounters and learnings in the sector of his dreams.


And while he has his head in the clouds, Maxime Meijers keeps his feet firmly on the ground!




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