Loic Le Meur: Consciousness, Self-Transformation and Exploring the Mysterious

Apr 2024

Loic Le Meur is a serial entrepreneur, founder of LeWeb, and recognized as one of “25 Most Influential People on the Web” by BusinessWeek. Deeply immersed in spirituality and consciousness work, Loic recently launched PAUA, a community and event organization bridging ancient wisdom and modern technologies.

Listen on
"I recognize myself as a human being and part of a whole. If we all work on transformation, on being more conscious, then the world will become a better place.”
Loic Le Meur: Consciousness, Self-Transformation and Exploring the Mysterious
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”
by Albert Einstein, a German-born theoretical physicist

About The Episode

In this episode of The Founder Spirit, the prolific Loic Le Meur, a serial entrepreneur and founder of LeWeb, shares his journey from early influences in entrepreneurship to midlife crisis and the spiritual awakening that led him to question the pursuit of success and recognition. Creator of “Loic's Letter - Exploring the Mysterious” and an angel investor, he reflects on the trap of desire and the constant need for more, and the importance of self-observation and seeking meaning in life. 

Loic's story serves as a reminder to prioritize personal healing/growth and fulfillment over external achievements. He imparts the teachings of Krishnamurti, his ongoing quest for self-knowledge, as well as his desire to share ancient wisdom with others. Loic believes in the power of personal transformation and collective consciousness to create a better world.

Just what led this tech entrepreneur to embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-transformation? 

Well, tune in to this exciting conversation & find out. 


Loic Le Meur is a serial entrepreneur, creator of “Loic's Letter - Exploring the Mysterious” and an angel investor. 

Founder of numerous startups in France & the United States, Loic is best-known for launching LeWeb in 2004, the largest technology conference in Europe for 12 consecutive years. With 4,000 participants from 80 countries, LeWeb featured some of the biggest names in tech, as well as heads of state, creatives and media personalities. Loic is also an investor in over 50 companies, including LinkedIn, Slack, Evernote and Lending Club, just to name a few.

For the last seven years, he has been deeply immersed in spirituality and consciousness work. Loic recently returned to launch his new act, PAUA, a community and event organization bridging ancient wisdom and modern technologies.

He holds a Master degree in Entrepreneurship from HEC Paris, and has been recognized as one of “Europe’s Tech25″ by the Wall Street Journal, “25 Most Influential People on the Web” by BusinessWeek and “Europe’s Blooming Entrepreneurs” by The Economist, as well as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Episode Transcript

[00:03] Jennifer Wu: Hi everyone, thanks for listening to The Founder Spirit podcast. I'm your host, Jennifer Wu. In this podcast series, I interview exceptional individuals from all over the world with the Founder Spirit, ranging from social entrepreneurs, tech founders, to philanthropists, elite athletes, and more. Together, we'll uncover not only how they manage to succeed in face of multiple challenges, but also who they are as people and their human story.

“The things that I have in me - entrepreneurship is one, and the other is walking on uncharted paths, creating my own path.”

“I had everything to a certain extent, but inside I was not happy. I decided to seek not success and power and recognition and all that, but seek a meaning of life.”

“I recognize myself as a human being and part of a whole, which is non-duality, that we are one with the animals, with the earth. So how can we destroy ourselves, basically?”

“I will, all my life, keep seeking because it's inside of me. And there is something about sharing indigenous knowledge, because I just think it helps if there is more of us that talk about these things, not as something taboo, no - it's amazing, I got healed in many ways.”

“I feel this is more important than the Internet revolution and AI. And it's very important that we all work on healing ourselves instead of putting our head underground and ignoring the issues. If we all work on transformation, on being more conscious, then the world will become a better place.”

Joining us today is the prolific Loic Le Meur, a serial entrepreneur, creator of “Loic's Letter - “Exploring the Mysterious” and an angel investor. 

Founder of numerous startups in France & the United States, Loic is best-known for launching LeWeb in 2004, the largest technology conference in Europe for twelve consecutive years. With 4,000 participants from 80 countries, LeWeb featured some of the biggest names in tech, as well as heads of state, creatives and media personalities. 

He has been recognized as one of “Europe’s Tech25″ by the Wall Street Journal, “25 Most Influential People on the Web” by BusinessWeek and “Europe’s Blooming Entrepreneurs” by The Economist, as well as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

For the last seven years, Loic has been deeply immersed in spirituality and consciousness work. He recently returned to launch PAUA, a community and event organization bridging ancient wisdom and modern technologies.

Just what led this tech entrepreneur to embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-transformation? Well, let’s talk to him & find out.

Hello Loic, welcome to The Founder Spirit podcast! Thank you for taking the time to join us today.

[02:48] Loic Le Meur: Hi Jennifer, thank you for having me - looking forward to a great conversation with you!

[02:52] Jennifer: Great, before we start to explore the mysterious, I wanted to know, growing up in France, what were some of the major influences on your life? 

[03:02] Loic: Oh, that's an interesting question. I grew up in a village in south of France near a city called Perpignan. My parents were atheists, so didn't believe much, I had some of that. 

And then entrepreneurship definitely, since I was a kid, because both of my parents were selling boats, little boats, not yachts. And so they were entrepreneurs at their level and I've never seen them working for anyone else. And that definitely inspired me to do that and always keep creating and doing things by myself. 

I did the classic conditioning of (the) western world, like you need to be good at school to get to better schools - so I did business school in France called HEC. And I started my first business on campus, while it was forbidden. It was forbidden at that business school to start your own business, I almost didn't have my diploma. 

I like to do things my way, that's for sure - I started my first startup in 1996, 30 years ago.

[04:00] Jennifer: Yeah, that's interesting - a business school that forbids its students from starting a business. (chuckles) Only in France, maybe... 

[04:08] Loic: Now, of course, it's celebrated. I had an internship at a car company called Peugeot, and there I discovered the Internet in ‘93, ‘94 and I remember I had this epiphany. 

There was this page, David Filos and Jerry Yang's home page, which was going to become Yahoo, and you could click on every single link on the web. And I clicked on every single link on the web at the time, because it was just a few hundreds. 

And I became obsessed by it, the same way I'm obsessed with the mysterious now and told my head of internship, why don't you start the first car-selling online website in Europe? And it was in ‘96. 

And he said, yeah, here's a job for you - we're hiring you to do that. I said, how about no, I start my business and you become my first client. That's how I started my first business. 

[04:56] Jennifer: Yeah, I heard you also funded it with money from a student loan, so what was it like for you to run your own company in your 20s?

[05:04] Loic: As I said, the inspiration (came) from my father, (who) was his own boss. And I think, all my life, I prefer being my own boss, because I like to be in charge of my own destiny. 

Nothing wrong with those who succeed in a corporate world, I admire them, but it's just not my path. I really like to have my own schedule and I like to depend on the minimum number of people.

 You mentioned my newsletter - I learned from Joi Ito in 2003 and I started blogging very early. And what I like with a newsletter format is that you have no boss, you distribute the risk among ideally thousands of subscribers, you can work whenever you like from wherever you like, and the only person you need is you. I'm like, that's exactly what I need. 

Because I also learned having employees, up to 100 in one of my companies, it's hard to manage people. Then I raised funding in small startups many times, and that is also responsibility. Suddenly you have investors, they have something to tell you, they could fire you maybe, which never happened to me, but happened to many, so you're dependent on them. 

And right now, for example, I have friends who want to invest in PAUA. But I didn't take the money yet, because I like the idea that I don't depend on anyone. So that's the spirit that, frankly, my father taught me - I saw him do that, and it's very nice to depend only on yourself.

[06:27] Jennifer: I'm a bit like you as well, I have to admit, that's probably why I'm podcasting - I like to be the controller of my own destiny. (chuckles) 

You founded two companies within two years of graduating from university - B2L, which is a web agency, and then RapidSite, which is the first one in France for shared web hosting focused on small businesses. 

These two companies achieved leadership positions in their respective domains, and you managed to exit these two companies within four years at the height of the dotcom boom at the end of 1999. And looking back now, what insight did you gain from these early experiences of entrepreneurship?

[07:10] Loic: Well, learning to be my own boss, learning to work in a community of employer/employee, work with clients. 

I also learned to pioneer in a way. I'm trying to speak with humility, but also say it. I think the things that I have in me - entrepreneurship is one, and the other is walking on uncharted paths, creating my own path. 

So in ‘96, I did the first banner ad. We argue with a French friend about that, but basically the first or second for an advertiser, big advertiser, and that was pioneering. We don't know what it's going to do, we don't know how it's going to work, and I love that. And I'm still doing that. I guess that's what I learned, is to keep walking. 

And it's like now in the jungle, there's no path, you have to find it and make it yourself. Because sometimes there are animals showing up and snakes and stuff, and it’s the same, I learned to walk on my own path. 

And then selling for me, it's been a mistake sometimes - my conference LeWeb, I regret that I sold it. But those two, I don't regret. So what happened is very simple, they were successful very early. I was 25, I was just getting started. 

There is this CEO of BBDO Omnicom France, the large (American) advertising group, that shows up, and we play pétanque in south of France - that's how it happened. That is the other thing is always expect the unexpected anywhere. 

So this guy - Christophe Flambe is dead now, unfortunately, but very genius amazing guy, we play pétanque (chuckles) on a Sunday. And he asked me what I do, and I tell him. And of course, no one had heard of web agencies. And he’s like, why don't you do it with us? Why don't I acquire you? Let's play this pétanque ball more.

And the next day, Monday 9 a.m., I was with his CFO, the deal was done in a week. And so I made my first million at 25.  That's what I learned, too, which is, I put my family safe, that's what money is for, and one of the most important thing it's for. 

And then, with RapidSite, same thing - in two years it took off, we had  thousands of customers. And France Telecom at the time, now called Orange, showed up and said, well, why don't we acquire you? And we also did the deal in two weeks. 

And so I learned to sell companies, I learned to create and sell fast. And I also learned after that, it was not always the best thing, because there is beauty in building something for 20 years. 

LeWeb was 12 years and it was amazing. LeWeb was the first technology conference in Europe, my mission there was (to) inspire people that they can be their own entrepreneurs. Like I did, you can do it, right? 

And I brought the founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey or Evan Williams, both of them actually, when they had no employees. Like Evan was walking around the web, he had six employees, and I was pushing him to journalists, saying you should talk to this guy, and they didn't care. 

But most important was not that - it was not the buzz, it was putting him on stage and inspiring one guy that could be German, French, UK, whatever, and think, oh, I can do that too. 

And I keep meeting still now people who tell me, well, thanks to LeWeb, I did this and that, I started my business. And that was very important for me. The reason why I regret having sold it is (that) it was having an impact in the world that was important, which was to help people being entrepreneurs. 

And I'm trying to do that with PAUA now, which is why I've not taken any money. I might end up and it's more like something I will keep.

[10:35] Jennifer: So speaking of LeWeb, LeWeb was known for its eclectic mix of speakers, workshops, entrepreneurs and exhibitions. It attracted, like you said, some of the most innovative minds at the time.

And I saw the videos on YouTube - you featured speakers like Eric Schmidt from Google. Travis Kalanik, when he was attending LeWeb, he got the idea to start Uber because he couldn't find a taxi late at night in Paris. 

[11:00] Loic: It was snowing, they’re all stuck, Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanik were stuck. And they're like, why don't we have an app on our phone that we get a car right now? And Uber was born.

[11:09] Jennifer: (chuckles) Right, because it was in December. So I think LeWeb's legacy is it definitely played a very special role in helping to shape the digital world. But what do you think made it so special? And you kept going for twelve years.

[11:25] Loic: The community. Most businesses or even conferences start without a community. They're starting thinking, okay, what can I create and sell? Product or service? Right? That's how you start. 

I started with a community. LeWeb was called LeBlog as a joke, the blogs in France, because I was blogging. And at the time, again, like PAUA, I'm doing the same now. There were very few people that were believing in writing and connecting online. And everybody was in silo, the French, the German, the... 

What I did was very simple, the first LeWeb was called LeBlog was the 200 most influential bloggers in 2003. And I can swear I had everybody in the room, almost - all those very early adopters, and that made it very special. 

One, because the bloggers really wanted to be connected, so it was a perfect match and talk to each other and be a community. And two, they were blogging, so it made the conference known because they're all writing about everybody's experience and they were all learning from each other. 

But not only learning, which is a bug I have in me since day one, which clashes now with indigenous knowledge, mostly secret, is that I want to put everything out. For me, knowledge has no value unless you do something with it. And this is why I put my knowledge as much as I can out, and then beautiful things generally happen. 

So it started like this. there were always, at every LeWeb, a tradition of thousands of blog posts all around the world, which made the next edition bigger. So we went from 200 to 400 to 800 (to) 4,000 people, and then I stopped. We said, no more, we thought 4,000 was huge already, big enough. 

But to answer your question, community has always been really important to me. We had community during LeWeb, but not really throughout the year. So with PAUA, I said, okay, let's start with what we didn't have. 

And now we have an amazing community talking all day long. And from that, we do conferences and you can do many things - we don't even monetize it. But it's so important - community is so important to me. 

[13:31] Jennifer: I believe it was in December 2014, LeWeb held its last conference in Paris. And some people have called its decline sad and sudden. Would you mind telling us what happened to LeWeb? 

[13:44] Loic: Yeah, we sold it. So we were doing this with my now ex-wife Geraldine, which I guess we were a bit tired - 12 years is a lot. And then this big group showed up and wanted to acquire it. Two, actually, we had two. When you have a good product, people show up to buy it - it's very simple. 

And frankly, the acquisition price started to be really good. So we sold it, and again, I think it's a mistake because I should have kept going. But this group applied its own rules. 

So for example, selling advertising and sponsorships - we were doing it as craftsmanship. We were like we helped Uber create Uber, so why don't you take a booth? It was more like that, like energy. Now I would talk about it in terms of energy is we help you, you help us. And so even in the exhibitors, we had quality and community and beautiful things. 

And they started doing hard selling, over-selling. And then you get into the, oh, but if he has a big booth, then he should also speak on the main stage, and they put that in the contract, and then you're done because (of) the quality. 

Most conferences are about the sponsors - the opening keynote, you have a CEO of this big group that shows up and is boring as hell, and the conference is done. So I never wanted to do that - I was doing the content myself, one by one, the speakers. 

It's like over-monetizing, so it was not the same. And then they called us to buy it back, which was interesting. So actually, LeWeb belongs to us now, we bought it two years ago for €1. And then Geraldine and myself divorced, so we didn't do it. 

So that's the real story, that's what happened. But I highly respect this group that acquired us, and they tried their best, and they're really good people, but it didn't work. It was also the time where I started being different and wanting different things.

[15:29] Jennifer: I saw the videos of the past conferences, it seemed really magical, a lot of great energy. 

Now, segueing into your second act, which is your spiritual journey. You previously mentioned on the blog that when you turned 40, you fell into the proverbial midlife crisis. So for someone who appears to be such a successful serial entrepreneur, what catalyzed your spiritual journey?

[15:53] Loic: It works with most people, sadly. There is the face, the mask. So my mask was this successful entrepreneur, high school sweethearts married for 20 years, three amazing children, and they're still amazing - that was my mask. 

We literally at LeWeb had people coming and like, oh, my God, you're such a model couple. And boom, we divorced a year after. And so there is the mask, this public image of a successful entrepreneur, all of these things that I was. 

But inside, I was not well. Why? Because I spent my life basically becoming what society and conditioning wanted me to be, so the hamster wheel. you do the best school, then you start a business, then another business. You make money, what do you do with money? Well, more money, right? There's always more. 

And guess what happens at the very top? I mean, it's a cliche - money makes you safe, it makes you all that, but it also creates all kinds of problems. Like when you have some people, they're super busy and they're miserable and they're stressed - not everybody, huh. 

But basically what is happiness? And I was looking at myself, I would say it's kind of a first awakening to ‘wait a second, I'm playing a game here, this is what society put in my head as success - money, recognition, family. All of it, I had everything to a certain extent. But inside I was not happy, I was drinking, and I was not feeling good. 

But then I decided to seek not success and power and recognition and all that, but seek a meaning of life. What's the meaning? Why am I doing this? This doesn't make me entirely happy. It makes me safe for sure, but I feel like shit inside. 

So I started to look at completely different things, different tools. The first one was meditation, so I went to attend the Vipassana retreat, silent - and that's the first thing I did.

[17:45] Jennifer: It's interesting because having achieved material success and recognition in the world, you mentioned nothing seemed to be enough. And I went through the same journey where I realized that I never felt enough. So no matter what I achieved, the goal just got higher and higher. 

But I don't know where it comes from, really. I don't know if it's society's conditioning that we are actually putting pressures on ourselves, but it seemed like whatever we achieved, it just was not enough. I was wondering if you had some thoughts on that.

[18:17] Loic: Yes, it's the billionaires trying to have the longest yacht in the world, it doesn't make any sense anymore and there's no limit, then the race to space that we can see right now. 

But in a way, it feels like high school, like who can do the best thing? But now we're throwing rockets, and it looks like Elon is winning the game. But does it matter? Like when you're on your deathbed, that's a question. 

And I just took my grandmother, sadly, to the crematorium, I'm sorry to throw that one in - death. We have two things that we are sure of - we (are) born and we die. Those are the two things, those are no simulation. I really had this deep thought when I saw her body go, It's like, wow, what matters then - the size of your yacht? 

We have this expression in French which is “cracher dans la soupe”, spitting in the soup, meaning, I'm not criticizing any of that. I still like comfort and luxury and safety for my family, and I wish the best for my children. All of that I still enjoy, but not in the same way at all. I think I'm trying to get out of this, and I mostly manage to, in many ways. 

But this thing is called desire, it’s desiring more, it’s desiring always what you don't have, and you cannot win this game. You can buy the latest jet, and there is a new one coming out in two months that will be so much better, so you cannot win. 

So it's about being enough, this is enough, so then define enough. In Africa or in the Amazon forest, enough is not the same as in New York City. And so the question becomes desire and what is enough? 

And I'm still in it, but I'm very aware of it now, at least. I think it started when I was 40 with this meditation retreat, becoming aware, like seeing that you're caught in a game like, oh, who is this guy trying to be famous, more famous and more money? Who is this guy, is this me? And when I started to be here and observe that, I started changing things.

But the root is desire. And by the way we'll talk about spiritual stuff, which I still don’t know what it means, but we'll talk about it. Consciousness, it's the same, and that's another trap - you desire enlightenment or you desire awakening. And in my case, each time I had an awakening, there is another one coming. It's like peeling an onion, (chuckles) it never ends. 

So I think it's all about getting out of that game, like considering that this iPhone is enough, you don't have to get the latest one. Just when d o you consider things are enough and live with that and with everything.

I'm 51, so I watch myself, but I also watch what's around me. But it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, you can always want something you don't have, so relationships, money, power, but even spirituality. 

So I think it's all about observing and observing yourself - I don't think is a problem. And I talk a lot about narcissism and I'm aware of what I am, but it's mostly because I love to share. (chuckles) I'll say I spent probably the last ten years of my life observing myself, to be a better human being, to get out of a trap, get out of a conditioning, get out of all of that. So I think in that way, it's okay to observe yourself. 

Maybe someone else can find something inspiring as well. But for me, it's all about being a better human being and more in the present, decreasing desire, which is very difficult still now, because you have a house, you want a better house and so on. But at least I'm very aware of it now.

[21:43] Jennifer: It's interesting because you're aware of yourself. I think many of us are not aware because we're so caught up in doing so many things and we don't have the time to actually reflect. And when we do have time to pause, we tend to put the blame on other people and other things instead of looking inside, because looking inside is really hard. 

And we also have this very strong attachment to self-identity. This question, like you said in your blogs, who am I? Am I a tech entrepreneur, am I the founder of LeWeb? And you think that when you step away from that job that you're doing, then you become somewhat less appealing to other people. 

Who am I? We attach a lot of the self-identity to what we do, and NOT who we are. 

[22:31] Loic: So I talked a bit about 10-day Vipassana experience, and I'll come back to it. But it's a place where you become nobody because suddenly, you're facing your mind, getting agitated, you're facing your traumas, I was facing my divorce . 

Then I did this other exercise, which is called vision quest, where they put you in a very small space outside on a mountain or in the jungle. And you don't eat, you don't drink for four days. So you approach death slowly, basically, and that is very humbling.

Suddenly there is no more nice house in San Francisco and no more credit card and whatever watch you're wearing - this doesn't matter. It's about can you stay with yourself for four days. 

Vision quest is kind of a supercharged meditation retreat because no food, no water. And suddenly you're facing yourself (in) silence - you're facing, not doing, which is our conditioning, is to always do something. And you're facing death because with no water, after two days, it's hard. After three days, it's unbearable. After four days, you might die and you feel it - you're down on the floor like a piece of crap, and there is not much left. 

And so at that point, back to death, which I think about because it's good to remind ourselves of what matters. And then if you ask that question, not so much matters. Family matters, friends matters, but material things, not so much - sure, you need a house, you need to eat, but doesn't matter so much. 

[23:55] Jennifer: I want to go back and talk about the 10-day meditation retreat where you have to be silent. You're not allowed to look at people in the eye, and even when you're eating food, you're by yourself. And a lot of people leave after 2 or 3 days because the silence becomes unbearable. 

What was the experience like for you? And what do you think you learned from that experience, Loic?

[24:19] Loic: It's amazing - I recommend it to everyone, Vipassana is amazing. 

What I learned from there is to sit with myself. What you said is we're so used to doing something, now I'm almost opposite with the work I did in the jungle. I did basically a 3-month meditation in the jungle alone, a 3-month Vipassana, supercharged,

Now it's really easy - you can put me right there in front of a tree and sit there, no iPhone, nothing, and I'll be fine, I'll stay there. I can stay there for days, no problem - I'm actually happier. I went from one (extreme) to another. But we are all conditioned in the western world to be always doing something.

So I was talking to someone yesterday who was talking to me like this. No, keep talking. I'm listening; yeah, no, don't worry, I'm just making some payments. And I was like full attention, looking straight at his eye like this. And he said, keep talking. So I kept talking, but I was very aware he was not with me, he was making payments. And at one point I stopped it, just looked at him. 

And so that's what you learn there - you learn to calm your mind. I learned to calm my mind after three days. I was going through divorce, everything. After three days, it's like water. If you put mud in there, muddy water, it's going to fall down to the bottom and then it's clear at the top. So you get that, which most people never get because they are crowded with to-do lists and responsibilities. Becoming aware, so that's the first thing. 

Second, being able to sit with your… because once it's clear, what happens? There is another saying - a cup is only useful if it's empty. And so if it's empty enough, then other things can come to a cup. 

What are the other things that come first? Traumas - we all have traumas, I lost my sister from a car accident, and that came, and then my own trauma came. All these things come, and that's why people leave. 

One, they cannot stand themselves. Two, they cannot be facing their trauma. And if you take plant medicine, it's even more in your face and you have to deal with it. So that's what I've been doing it for a few years. But meditation is amazing and it helps you clear your mind. 

I will talk about vision quest as well, because it's really the same - it’s a long meditation. If you remove food and water, then you get full-on psychedelic experiences after 3 days. It's called vision quest - for that reason, you get those visions with absolutely nothing, just your body. I got a 5-hour experience with millions of colors, geometries, messages, voice talking to me, with nothing, zero. 

Why? Because the cup was empty, it was so empty that I was not drinking water. And then things come, it’s what (Jiddu) Krishnamurti calls this thing you cannot name. People call that the divine or whatever - that comes if you do it enough and you don't need anything. So that's amazing, but we have to go through first sitting with ourselves, calming the mind, then looking at the trauma one by one. 

I journal a lot, that's another tool for whomever is watching this. See, this is my journal, I love it, I show you because it's funny - this is one of my first journals. And so I was starting to write so much that I started adopting this format - this is from Japan, it’s called the travelers journal. I love it so much - I was writing with fountain pen and drawing things. 

The reason why I'm telling you this is because it's precious. In the jungle, I started writing one of these every two weeks, so it's another tool that goes really well with consciousness, let’s call it this way. 

In the morning, I write my dreams, and then I go into free writing, so whatever comes to my mind, amazing things come. So journaling is a really good exercise, drawing, even if you don't know how to draw, like myself. That I don't publish because it doesn't look so good. But maybe one day, who knows? 

[28:02] Jennifer: In October 2016, you visited the Peruvian Amazon forest, and you had the first ayahuasca experience there with the shamans. For someone who's never going to get to experience what you've gone through, can you tell us, what happens at these plant ceremonies? And how did this plant medicine change your life forever?

[28:30] Loic: Thank you for asking and taking the risk of talking about this here, I want to acknowledge that, because I know that's the first time we talk about, let’s call it, psychedelics - I prefer plant medicine. 

I was like you, like you watching, I was mostly conditioned in France with Catholic principles. So I was conditioned with no drugs, and I did ten Burning Man’s where I was known to be the only guy that was not taking anything, no drugs. I had not done any drugs before I did ayahuasca. Nothing, okay, two joints - I tried, I didn't like it.

But think about this - this is also conditioning, because I was drinking a bottle of wine a day, a few Japanese whiskey, I was drinking, at one point, maybe ten espressos a day - these are drugs. When you spend an hour (on) Instagram reels, looking at how many likes you have and how many followers and all that, this is drugs as well. Okay, now that I've said that, sure, there is powerful substances. But I want to say I was against (them), I was like, never.

And so what happened is Leila Janah, who also left us sadly, was my partner at the time. And she said, let's do my birthday at Machu Picchu in Peru. And I went, and then this friend said, why don't you go do a ceremony with a shaman in the Amazon? And she said, I really want to see the Amazon forest, etc. - we went there.

I googled it, I said, never, I'm going to do this thing, never ever ever, because of conditioning. And I arrived there, and there is this little shaman, 1.5 meters, very old but very powerful, but not very threatening, he looked cool. He's like, here, and there is ayahuasca. 

And I look at the cup, I take it, and the entrepreneur in me starts talking like, are you going to die from this, like what's the worst that can happen? Just drink it. So I drank it and Leila Janah drank it too - it was also her first time. And I was like, we'll see. It took about ten minutes, very fast, it was very strong. 

And I got these visions, like TV on, like, whoa, oh, my God. The first thing was, how could I stay away from this all my life. Imagine you're going to the IMAX theater, the bubble now in Vegas - whatever this is as an experience is nothing compared to that - in a 3D, 4D, how many Ds you want.

Then in the jungle, I see the jungle - eyes closed, of course. And there is this animal that comes, a cat like that. I have him now here - a cat like that, so this is from Mexico, it’s a jaguar. A cat like that shows up and they're all beautiful. 

And this cat comes, he looks very nice, and he says, where have you been? We've been waiting for you. I said, well, I was doing startups in Silicon Valley, I don't know what you're talking about. It's a voice, right? I opened my eyes - where is it? Close your eyes, it's there. Come, I show you the forest. 

I was in Avatar, like full-on. Obviously, people doing these movies know what it is, because that's what they're trying to show to people who don't know. Avatar is a message, it's a message of peace - come save the forest, but also there is a world that you don't know. 

And I was in Avatar, everything was illuminated. The cat suddenly tells me, would you like to fly? I'm a pilot, too - I paraglide, I love flying. Boom, turns me into an eagle, and suddenly we're two eagles flying over the forest. That was my first experience. And I was like, oh, my God - 3 hours, that's it. 

And I come out of that, and Leila got the same. We were both like, why? Why people don't know about this? Why did I wait 45 years? This is the best, this is the most amazing.

And so that was it, that was the beginning for me of this. (It) might be the most fascinating thing ever that I encountered in my whole life, so I need to know more about this.

[32:07] Jennifer: You know, it's interesting. I've never done psychedelics, but I did Holotropic breathworks. It was like somebody opened a window and there was a different world out there which I could never see. 

And I do Yoga Nidra, and I never understood what it meant until then that somebody says, learn to see it with your mind's eye, so like your third eye. And that was the moment where I understand what it is to see with the mind's eye. 

[32:33] Loic: That's another technique, yeah. It's meditation, Holotropic breathwork - there are many ways, like Wim Hof with breathing. I did some Kundalini Yoga, it's like.. It’s all the same - you don't need to put something in your mouth. 

I go to Bhutan a little after that, and I knew nothing about it - nothing, right? And I'm in front of this mandala in a monastery, and this mandala is called the Wheel of Life - it's very well known.

I was (there for) half an hour and the monk comes and says, what's going on? I said, I saw this in the Amazon forest taking plants, exactly that, except it was way cooler. It was turning and this was turning, and this was like this. And he's like, wow, really? 

And I said, how did you see that to paint that? And he said that he pointed at that cave in a monastery and he said, three years, you go three years in a cave. And the Kogis do ten years in a cave in Colombia, and you see that. 

My point is, it's all the same stuff - it’s what Krishnamurti says, the thing that has no name. That's what you see if you meditate enough, if you do breathwork or if you do plants.

[33:38] Jennifer: I think there's so many lessons that we can learn from the indigenous community these days, especially in the present-day context of climate change and land stewardship. What lessons did you take away from working with these indigenous communities? 

[33:55] Loic: I found beautiful people, like the Buddhists, a very ancient knowledge that we don't really know - thousands of years. And it's beautiful to see them living really in the present. 

You're in paradise - you are surrounded by thousands of animals, millions of trees. I woke up there in the village, 6 a.m., there are 150 green parrots flying in pairs, they're like couples and waking me up and coming into my dreams. They are in paradise, and it's really Avatar. And we're coming with trucks and destroying this to grow our cows, to eat our steak and it's a disaster. 

And I fell in love with them, I fell in love with their community, habits - they don't live in houses. When I arrived, they lived in hammocks, little casitas in hammocks. But they all eat together, they do their ceremonies, like going to church every Sunday. They do it 2 or 3 times a week, which is their way to connect to the divine. 

And they're very simple, they sometimes disappear in the jungle like the masters - just go, you have no idea where they are, and that's okay. They're offline when I met them, now some of them are on Instagram sadly.

And I was amazed, as a technology entrepreneur, if you put that mask on, what I discovered was a technology. So one thing is to drink a cup of plants and put a Spotify playlist, some people do that, and another is to sit with someone coming from generations and generations.

And each song they sing is like in the movies, casting a spell, it's like a magic formula that opens things. So, for example, there is a song for calling their most sacred animal, the boa. In the tribe I work with, Yawanawa, they have this song to call the anaconda. And at the beginning, I was like, okay, great. And then suddenly in your visions, you see snakes (chuckles). So once, twice, three times, and we all see the same. 

So ayahuasca in French was called télépathine. - telepathy is a very common experience. When everybody in a circle takes this plant, they see the same thing very often. And so it struck me, wait a second, if they sing a song that calls the boa, and then the boa shows up in visions and is there with us for two or 3 hours, what is this about? 

As we say in the western world, can we reproduce this? Yes, you can. And you have to sing the song exactly as they sing it, so I started learning. And I was thinking, can I call the snake? Yes, I can now in some way, and it's very useful because he's a protector. 

Now I'm going to get weird - we're coming from entrepreneurship, let’s get weird. But yes, they call on their ancestors for protection, and the word that they use the most in all the songs is kunu - kunu means visions. So they call the visions in the songs, and they want everybody to have beautiful visions. And there are some ceremonies I've been in, because I like to wander around, where they call darkness. 

It's like a knife. I don't have a knife here, but if you take a knife, you can do a wood carving with a knife, you can prepare food or you can kill someone with a knife. So it's the same idea, it’s a tool. It's a bit dangerous, yes, if it's not used properly. 

If it's used with these technologies and ancient knowledge, it’s the best thing that I have seen. So that's what I've seen, a beautiful world, and so much to learn from them, so much admiration, humility, respect, especially from a white guy. 

Our ancestors killed them, enslaved them - the Yawanawas were enslaved to collect rubber. And now they're like, okay, we received from the universe that we have to give it to you. So they give, but to receive you have to be open to it, you have to not look at them as subhumans, like we did. 

And I look at them as true holders of an amazing knowledge, pretty much like the Buddhist masters have amazing knowledge and qigong and all those things that I don't know, that I would love to know. But one life is not enough, it will take me a few. 

And I think it's time, back to what we were saying - people are sick. I was sick, unhappy, struggling, stressed, creating cancers within themselves because of stress or addictions to substances, addiction to work, you name it.

And there are solutions, which is not to take antidepressants and going to a therapist for years, I did that - full respect for therapy, not my point. But everything you do in this field is good; it’s a good step, there is no time wasted. 

But what I'm saying is there is (what) we know, and there is another world and it's unknown because we killed witches in the Middle Ages, the indigenous in America, everywhere in the world. Because it's also a tool for power, and it scared people. 

And again, it's the knife - you can use it as a weapon, or you can use it to create things and feed yourself.

[38:47] Jennifer: Loic, you've done so much work on yourself - you've completed seven dietas in the Amazon forest, three vision quests and two sundances. So I'm not going to make you recount all of your experiences, because it's all detailed on your blog on Substack. 

But I am curious, what is the craziest thing that has happened to you? Was it the muká dieta where you were alone for three months?

[39:12] Loic: You would have to define crazy (chuckles). 

The muká dieta is their most sacred plant in the village I sat with, they had not given to anybody for the last ten years. It's very powerful in their belief system and tradition. it’s a secret plant - you only know it when you eat it. There's a potato in the root - you eat the potato once in a lifetime in their tradition, and I did that - not everybody gets to do that. 

And now I know why, I would not recommend it, because it's extremely strong. Once you eat, it's one year no sex, including with yourself, I want to say it, so it's strong. No sweets - so it's more than no sugar, it's no sweets. That means no fruits, for example, no banana, nothing sweet.

Because muka in Yawanawa means bitter, and so you only want to put bitter or acid things in your mouth, forget any sweet taste. And that was harder than sex, really hard, the chocolate and all that. And then no pure water, so they have this water with a manioc (cassava) inside, and it makes a milk that is not very good. 

I drank that for one year because they believe that water dilutes your visions. So no pure water, no meat for the first four months at all, then a little chicken. And most important is very little quantities, I lost about 40-50 pounds, 20+ kilos.

It's one year, so it's long. And it starts with a three-month complete isolation, offline, not allowed to talk to anyone, not your family, not your children. Nobody could see me, apart from my teacher. And you're in the same place, which is paradise, but feels like a jail after 90 days. Most people cannot do 2 hours offline; I did 90 days, that was hard. 

But it's basically learning to work with a plant, to live with it completely for 90 days. And it provides huge healing, of course. It drives you to near death - once I fainted plainly. I stood up, I could not walk like 5 meters, and I fell down, fainted. My head hit for ground and started bleeding. It was pretty bad, and I completely lost consciousness. 

And I had a dream - I saw myself from the above, literally, in my hut. And I was like, oh, this is death, I'm dead. And I saw my body there, and I saw the masters running because they had heard my head hit the ground, and they were all around me. 

And it lasted maybe five minutes where I was on the other world entirely, thinking, well, do I want to get back to that body? It's pretty nice there. And so that was crazy. The whole thing was crazy. And I ended the one year in April, so it's still new. 

And the second most crazy thing is within that experience, part of it is also to push it to an extreme. So at one point, I walked back at 4 a.m. through the jungle, and my hut was about a half an hour walk. That was toward the end, where I was stronger already. And I got lost at 4 a.m. in the Amazon jungle - lost. 

And I was so connected, I was in Avatar. I was hugging every tree, I could see the water flowing in the trees. If I touched a tree, I could receive the energy of a tree in my body. Yes, it sounds crazy, and yes, it's true. People will start judging and telling me, oh, yeah, he lost it. And you know what? That's okay, but it happened. 

I got lost, I heard this bird sing, a nightbird like this. And I followed the bird, and it took me right back to my home through the trees. That was, for me, one of the most memorable moments. 

But this is not for everybody - you can have a few experiences like this with a proper guide, by all means. Without the proper guide with a substance that you don't know where it's coming from in the wrong environment, absolutely not, don’t do that. 

I just wanted to know more, it’s like the pilot, right? You sit in the back of a plane or you want to be in the cockpit. I wanted to be in the cockpit, and that's what I did.

[42:56] Jennifer: Loic, thank you so much for sharing. These days you feel healed somewhat, and if so, healed from what?

[43:02] Loic: I hope you can feel it in my voice, the energy I have is more than 15 years ago. There is one issue is too much energy. 

I've not touched a drop of alcohol for four years, because now I see it as poison - why would you put poison in your body? Ethanol is a poison for your body, and there is no small quantity that makes it healthy.

So yeah, I'm physically extremely healthy, mentally way clearer. I still have other challenges, but I'm good. 

[43:30] Jennifer: I know one of your favorite philosophers that you talked about previously is (Jiddu) Krishnamurthi. 

I'm reading one of his books right now, I find it very difficult though - it's maybe not for my level - “Think on These Things” (by Jiddu) Krishnamurti. Can you maybe share with us some of his core teachings and why they appeal to you?

[43:49] Loic: Well, it's huge. I would recommend if you don't connect with this specific book is you go to Apple Podcasts and there is Krishnamurti Foundation, and I would listen to anything there - they're doing an amazing job. It's really simple, and he talks like an arrow, it’s very clear. 

There is also Ramana Maharshi who wrote “Who Am I?” It's a pamphlet, you can read (in) 40 minutes. I'll talk about Krishnamurti, but that's the other master I really admire. But Krishnamurti, everything he says sounds true to me. It's impossible to even argue, and that I'd never found before. 

And there is no dogma. So first off, he goes against any dogma, gurus, religion, all of them. he says, this is human creation, do not trust any of those guys, including me - do not trust me either. All religions have a savior. And I respect religious people, it’s not the point here - I'm trying to say what Krishnamurti says. Why do you need a savior? There is no savior, and so how about we take responsibility? 

And he also says, people fight for thousands of years because of religion, and this is also true. And the conflict that is happening right now, it's two reasons - one is religion, two is nations. And I also agree, and that's very controversial.  

I recognize myself as a human being and part of a whole, which is the other thing he says. He talks about non-duality, that we are one with the animals, with the earth. So how can we destroy ourselves, basically? Yeah, we're all one.

And nations are completely invented by human beings. And because of religions and nations, we have war. If you really think about it, it makes sense. And I really believe in that, and once you start thinking this way, it makes everything, like wars, completely stupid. 

Two is about desire, and thoughts being the root of all problems. So he teaches observation, to always observe yourself. So, for example, you have a car, you want a better car. You see someone with the latest Tesla and immediately you think, oh, I can see myself in that and what I could do with it.

He says, there is observation, emotion - like I like this. But then immediately thoughts take over, as in I want one because you put yourself in one. And that's where all the problems come, because (of) desire. And then from desire starts frustration, I could go on and on, but I think that's the most interesting aspect of himself. 

He also teaches meditation by saying there is no meditation method. For example, he goes against the mantras, he says, you don't need that - just observe. So, huge master, the caveat is that it's very difficult to apply. 

But I listen to one podcast of Krishnamurthi - it’s really easy to listen to, once or twice a week and read books and it's amazing. 

[46:31] Jennifer: Well, thank you for that. I'll definitely check out the podcast because I just found the book a little bit hard to read. 

Loic, after seven years of seeking, what did you find?

[46:40] Loic: I would say I'm not there, I will probably not be there all my life. I will, all my life, keep seeking because it's inside of me. 

And there is something about sharing indigenous knowledge, they say “what is sacred is secret and what is secret is sacred.” And here I am blogging it, because I just think it helps if there is more of us that talk about these things, not as something taboo, dark magic no - it's amazing, I got healed in many ways. 

But what I'm still working on is discovering things that I don't know because it's so fascinating. The mystical, let's call it this way, not the plants per se, not only, like qigong and breathwork and there are so many things. 

I want to have my own experience because words don't describe it. So there are things that I want to still discover. And it might be, I could hear Krishnamurti even though he's not here with us I listen to him enough that he would tell in my ear, this is again the hamster wheel. 

Now you're in a spiritual bypass, they call it, so I'm watching myself, but I like to keep discovering things. So I think I'm way more balanced, way less needy. I processed my traumas enough times, I think I'm way stronger - not physically, but psychologically.

Like, if something happens to me, you'll see me probably very calm. And when you went through enough death experiences, it's okay. Ram Dass, was saying, dying is like removing a tight shoe, so it's okay, there's something else. 

I don't fear much, but am I still seeking? Yeah, what am I seeking? Well, restoring this ancient knowledge or doing my part in restoring it. Telling others that there are amazing ways to heal that don't have to involve taking plants and stuff if you don't want to. There are other tools, meditation and so on, 

In a world where the only solution to mind (mental) health issues is to take antidepressant drugs, there are other ways to deal with this. And it feels important to me to keep discovering them and putting some light on it, so people find solutions that are not in the western world yet. 

I feel this is more important than the Internet revolution, and I was there and obsessed by it. I feel this is more important than AI - this is why I'm not building an AI startup right now. And I like AI, I find it interesting. And ten years ago, I would be all over it. 

Right now I'm thinking this is way more important and interesting, and to make sure that AI doesn't turn us into machines. And so that's what I'm doing, that is animating me.

I'm going to explore Africa a bit because there is incredible ancient knowledge in Africa, so I'm going to discover some of those beautiful traditions there. So I'm not seeking, it's more like exploring and still making myself a better person.

[49:27] Jennifer: Somebody told me once the meaning of life is to constantly improve yourself. And I often think about that. So I feel like as long as we keep making little progresses each day, that maybe the whole journey is the destination. It's not about getting somewhere, but it's about become a better version of ourselves all the time.

[46:48] Loic: Yes, because if we all do this work, the world will get a better place. 

Human beings - we are it, the very person people try to fight in wars and tell them their religion is wrong and their neighbor has the wrong God, it’s them that they're fighting. And that is what Krishnamurti and others teach, non-duality means we are one.

But if I get better and if you get better, and if people watching get better and we all get better, we are the world, we are that. So small by small (little by little), it will get better. And if we also are less needy, accumulate less, (being) happy sitting in a jungle, respecting nature, not polluting the oceans, if there is more of us... 

I think we are at the verge of a huge conscious movement that is not new. It started years ago, arguably in 60s, 70s, but maybe it's now. Remember the Internet? There was a huge bubble in 2000 where everybody said, oh, it's dead.

But I'm still an entrepreneur, I'm still building startups and investing and I'm still in this world. I didn't decide to stay in the jungle, I could have - it's lovely there. I'm trying to help, and so I think there is a new hope. 

And I believe this is way more important than the Internet - the Internet is just a tool. And it's very important that we all work on healing ourselves instead of putting our head under ground and ignoring the issues. 

And once that job is done, helping others by, in my case and your case, sharing podcasts and writing. So just contributing a little bit without trying to save the world. But if we all work on transformation, on being more conscious, then the world will become a better place. 

I remember having to convince people about social networks, and we'll do the same here. So I'm very excited by the next 10-20 years because I think the new generations, and we also have this responsibility with our children, is to help them do that, instead of destroying like we did. So I feel very young in a way, that might be the best gift that I got from all this work, is I'm 51, but I feel like I'm 20 years younger.

[51:51] Jennifer: Well, thank you for this pioneering work that you're doing in elevating our collective consciousness with PAUA, which is now your third act, I would say. 

And I really appreciate it because I attended the first conference last year, and it's a very nice community, like-minded people - so thank you for starting that. You have very active virtual groups, so can you tell us where people can find you, your blog and PAUA online?

[52:17] Loic: Thank you for your kind words, it’s all an experiment, and I do that at the same time as I'm doing all my self-transformation work. And so it's a bit challenging at times, but it works. Now it works by itself. 

So there is my newsletter, which is my name dotcom, LoicLeMeur.com. And from there, there is a tab that is community. And if you click on that, you access the WhatsApp group. And we announce there a speaker every week - we have a samurai, we have free divers - it's very, very open. And then we have an event every year.

[52:47] Jennifer: Great. And last but not least, what does the Founder Spirit mean to you, Loic?

[52:51] Loic: The Founder Spirit, it's very well-chosen as a name, is definitely what I've been talking about a lot, which is about being able to think out of the conditioning, not the box, the conditioning and opening your own path. 

Entrepreneurship is about listening to people all day long, they're telling you're wrong. When I started my first startup, all my friends went to very well-paid jobs in corporates because business school and I didn't, they all told me, you're an idiot. Like, why do you do that? You're gonna fail. 

I have the same people telling me right now, you're crazy. Someone told me, you're gonna ruin your brain forever. Guess what? My brain is way better. There is a lot of scientific research, including from Stanford recently, that shows that the brain and the connections between the neurons regenerates. And I feel way faster, way way faster. 

So founder spirit is about not listening to people telling you their conditioning and imposing it on you, including society as a whole, and seeing something, staying in it, no matter what the difficulties are. I got lost in the jungle, no matter what the tricks and traps and the animals, human animals, that can come your way. 

And failure is just a way. The Buddhists will say, you failed, congratulations, this is good. Why? Because you learned something. And I fail all the time. There are no mistakes - it's only an opportunity, as you know. 

This founder spirit, it's a great way of permanently thinking in a different way. Remember Steve Jobs’ quote, “those (people) who are crazy enough (to) think they can change the world are the ones who do.” That's my favorite quote of all times, another spiritual guru - that's the founder spirit.

[54:38] Jennifer: That's right. 

Now we're coming to the end of our interview, and as you know, we end every episode with a quote. And for this episode, we have a quote from Albert Einstein, a German-born theoretical physicist: 

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”

So Loic, thanks so much for coming on the Founder Spirit podcast today and keep on exploring the mysterious & sharing with the rest of the world!   

[55:02] Loic: Thank you, Jennifer. I might have to put that quote at the top of my newsletter now, thank you.

[55:11] Jennifer: If this podcast has been beneficial or valuable to you, feel free to become a patron and support us on Patreon.com, that is P-A-T-R-E-O-N.com/TheFounderSpirit. As always, you can find us on Apple, Google, Amazon and Spotify, as well as social media and our website at TheFounderSpirit.com

The Founder Spirit podcast is a partner of the Villars Institute, a nonprofit foundation focused on accelerating the transition to a net-zero economy and restoring planetary health. 

[55:47] Loic: The Lakotas that I worked a bit with, Native Americans, have this tradition, it’s called heyoka. A heyoka is a trickster, someone who lies and plays with you. The heyoka will come and say, well, I am the master of a masters of a masters, or you're full of shit (chuckles), or you know, just catching you. And I like the heyoka.

I arrive there and he's like, you're a narcissist. He said, I'm a racist, you’re white, your ancestors have killed all my ancestors - you’re French, f*ck you. And I'm like, whoa, what is this? And he was just trying to destroy me, and he did break me into pieces. 

And he said, you see that mountain there? It's snowing, it was February or March in South Dakota, and we're going to put you there. And I said, well, I'm going to freeze, my friend. And he said, yeah, we have this buffalo skin for you - big, huge, and he shows it to me. I'm like, oh, okay, fine. 

When we get there, midnight, freezing, crazy wind, snow, ice falling from the sky, it was hailing. And I said, where is the buffalo skin you promised? And he said, no, you don't get that; are you going to do it, yes or no? And I'm like, yes, I'm going to do it. 

And I became blue, like almost died, actually. And I tell the story to friends who did this vision quest and sundance for 20+ years, and they said, you're lucky he actually wanted to kill you (chuckles). But that was a gift - it’s like, thank you very much.

[57:08 END OF AUDIO]

Show Notes


(03:02) Early Influences and Entrepreneurial Beginnings

(04:08) Founding and Selling Companies

(09:32) Success and Legacy of LeWeb

(15:53) Midlife Crisis and the Spiritual Journey

(17:45) Desire and the Pursuit for More

(21:43) Observing the Self and Seeking Meaning

(28:02) Ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon

(33:38) Lessons from Working with Indigenous Communities

(39:00) The Craziest Thing That Happened to Loic

(43:30) Core Teachings of Krishnamurti

(49:30) Seeking to Become a Better Person

(51:51) PAUA and Its Online Community

(52:47) The Founder Spirit

(55:47) Heyoka and Vision Quest


  • The pursuit of more is a never-ending cycle, success and recognition may not lead to true happiness and fulfillment.
  • Self-identity should not be solely based on external achievements, but on one's values and inner self. 
  • Observing oneself and seeking meaning in life can lead to personal growth and a deeper sense of purpose.
  • Having a proper guide is essential when exploring plant medicine and the mystical realms.
  • Sharing ancient wisdom can contribute to a collective consciousness and help create a better world.


Social Media Links:


Be the First to know
Sign up to receive news and updates from The Founder Spirit
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.