My start-up idea

I wanted to build a start-up to create a smartphone application linked to a website made to help people find local farm food producers and facilitate interactions between them. I started thinking about this idea when I noticed that there are more and more people in France trying to eat healthier and eco-friendlier food, especially organic vegetables, fruits, meat. To that extent, they try to avoid industrial food as much as possible because they often can’t be sure about where it comes from (which causes environment problems if it was imported from far away for instance), or if chemicals have been added to the food, etc. Thus, they tend to prefer to buy food directly from some local farmers which are supposed to produce more organic and eco-friendly food. But when I tried to find local producers around where I live, I couldn’t find any really close on the internet. In fact, they can be difficult to find because most of them get their clients thanks to word of mouth. That’s why I want to make an application which would help people get connected with the local farm products producers around them, and make the interactions between them easier.

Collecting feedback

I wanted to target more precisely my potential customers, so I had to know who would be interested in my idea. Thus, I got in touch with seven people from different places (cities and countryside), with different age (from 20 to 72 years old), different social background. These people were mostly family and friends but there were also a couple of people I’ve met on the website, which is a film critic website. It seems that it is a quite random range of people but in fact it is very varied, as I wanted, and I think one of the most interesting feedback came from one of my interviews with a guy on because as I didn’t really know him (we’ve had exchanged a bit about some films before) and because of the sometimes coarse-mind of cinema critics, he felt really free to tell me truly what he thought about my idea, even if it is obviously non-related with cinema. He specifically gave me a feedback on my pitch rather than my idea because he didn’t seem quite interested into it in fact. So now I know I have to work on my pitch and be more precise so people understand easily my offer.

Now let’s get to the point. I’ve noticed that my idea could interest mostly people who live in small towns or in the countryside because it seems quite annoying for people in big cities to have to go in the countryside to get their products, where the farmers are located. People in the countryside seem very interested into farm products but are not very interested into a website and even less an app because they already have their own habits and contacts. Actually, my primary target could be people 30 to 50 years’ old living in small or medium towns. I’ve received from one of them this idea of making a sort of subscription system to a farm food producer which could provide information on what products are available at a certain time. For instance, if a farmer has just finished to gather tomatoes, then he notifies to the app that tomatoes are now available for sale, and it would send a message to his subscribers who could then come buy some, etc. It could be really useful for people living in small or medium towns because they are not so close to the farm food producers to get these information, but they are still close enough to drive a couple of miles to get there.

Will I change my idea?

I will surely do slight changes because the feedbacks I’ve received are very interesting. Now I have a more precise view of who could be a potential customer of my service. Also, I really like the part about the different features that these people would like to see in the app. I feel it’s almost like working closely to the customers already, and I think it is one of the exiting things of developing a new product. Finally, I appreciated the feedbacks on my pitch because some people didn’t really understand the concept I was explaining so obviously I have to work on that. It reminds me of the pitches I’ve heard during the STHLM Tech event, which were not always clear so even if there were probably good ideas, I wasn’t always convinced because it wasn’t so evident to understand what they offered to the customers.

Last week I was looking for a graduation internship, so I spent most of my time on some companies’ websites to find good opportunities, especially in consultancies. And I eventually got to speak about it with a friend, also trying to find an internship. It turns out that he’s been reached by a start-up for a 6 months job in Paris, plus 6 months in San Francisco about this web-customer data analysis. I think he’s been so lucky to receive such an amazing offer, even if I’ve not so much interest for that specific topic, and I start thinking “why not doing an internship in a start-up myself ?” It’s something I’d never really thought about before, but as I’m interested by the start-up world and because I think I would enjoy this peculiar and exiting kind of job, I start looking around for some opportunities. So I check out some career/job websites without finding any topic that I’d be really interested in, and I ask to myself what I would really be exited about in a job like that. In fact, I’m exited about creation, about giving birth to something, and thus I would be more interested by an early-stage start-up. Finally I remember I have a friend in a business school who’s told me once that many of her friends were planning to found a start-up at the end of their studies. I get back in touch with her and it turns out that she’s looking for a co-founder with technological knowledge to help her build her start-up. I personally have a profound technical background, and she’s planning to join a business incubator next January, when I’ll be back in France. She pitches me her idea and it seems quite cool (something about urban bicycles, roughly speaking), so it sounds like a perfect opportunity for me to experience the birth of a start-up. I eventually start doing the procedures with my school and the person in charge of internships reaches me to tell me that I won’t be authorized to do this because the company doesn’t exist yet so they can’t make any contract. Moreover it seems to risky for them because if the start-up fails I will have to do another 6 month internship in order to graduate, which I can understand. So I get back to my friend, a bit disappointed, and I remember that there is an entrepreneurship section back in my school, with people probably looking for this kind of projects for next year. So I propose to make an announcement about her project and her research for a co-founder on my school’s Facebook page, which she accepts. So far she’s been contacted by at least three people interested in her idea so I hope it will work !


Eventually we’ve got to talk about pitches and I told her that I’ve been to some start-up events that were very interesting on the topic. Especially, what I’ve learned from STHLM Tech event is that you really need20161010_184106 to practice your pitch. And going to this kind of meet-ups can definitely help start-up founders because you can get some tips about what to say, how to be on the stage, etc. For instance, I found that the first pitcher reacted quite badly towards provocative invectives of the host. Of course the goal of this event was to criticize pitches so everybody can learn, and the host may seem a bit harsh but you shouldn’t take it personal in my opinion. The objective of this is to get a feedback on your pitch, even if it can make you feel dreadful, it is done on purpose to make you want to change what didn’t work in your speech. Well, in the end I hope she’ll manage to find a co-founder and I also strongly advised her to practice her pitch a lot, and get inspiration from this kind of events.

This little experience really taught me that sometimes network can be crucial. So if you want to build your own start-up, you should definitely talk about it around you because you don’t always know where help can come from. And obviously, going to specific start-up events for networking is an excellent way to start. For that matter I recommand to read Kevin’s article, if you’re still not convinced about that. And finally, the more you talk about your idea to people with different backgrounds, the more you’ll feel easy about it and I think it will help you to improve your pitch in the end.

I’ve been to my first SUP46 event last Thursday about Product Managers with Ricardo and Alycia, whom have both already written an article about it (you can check their blog posts here and here if you want) so I won’t explain again what has already been said. First, I really enjoyed the conference because it gave me a new vision on the many forms that the entrepreneurial spirit can take, as intrapreneurship. In fact, being a Product Manager seems highly related to being an intrapreneur as they constantly need to be visionary, keep focus, lead their teams to ensure the development of their product. In this blog post I’d like to focus on why is it important to have intrapreneurs inside your company.

You can think of most companies as they can be reluctant to change, because they were set up to execute certain activities and are used to it. They often like to do it their way inside of their comfort zone, and at the contrary change appears as dangerous and uncertain. Thus, things tend to stay as they are, which can be a stumbling block to innovation. That’s exactly why every company needs intrapreneurs to stay at the top and continue to be innovative. Those people are the ones who can disrupt a company in a good way in the sense that they value creativity, freedom, and they want to make a difference. In fact, most big companies have the potential, the technologies necessary to develop new products but they can lack the will to do it, and sometimes they don’t even see the opportunity of developing a disruptive product because they may be too focused on something they already have. A story of such a successful seizure of an opportunity is Amazon Web Services. Most of you probably don’t know this subsidiary of, Inc. but it was created by a man named Andy Jassy, whom has been designated as “Person of th Year” by Financial Times. He is totally an intrapreneur in my opinion and I invite you to learn more about him and AWS in this article which is very interesting to understand the birth of an idea and how opportunities can be seized. Roughly speaking, this man was the leader who’s made Amazon able to invent a totally new service called cloud-computing, and which has made AWS the market leader on the topic. The way he did that is completely similar to an intrapreneurship project, especially thanks to Amazon’s culture of innovation and agile infrastructure. Of course, it wasn’t easy even if Amazon seems to be a good place to innovate, and it may be even more difficult to do in a lethargic company reluctant to new ideas. But you always need someone inventive, devoted, a leader to disrupt, to push you up and keep your company growing. This person is an intrapreneur.

Finally, I’d like to share five advices for both future intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs I’ve found in a web conference given by the French autodidact entrepreneur Jérôme Hoarau. I found his conference very interesting and inspiring, and as I suppose most of you don’t speak French, I’ll translate his main points:

  • Turn obstacles into challenges and learn from it
  • Build up archives of everything you’ve learnt from your mistakes
  • Focus on action and less on results to enjoy yourself and learn more
  • Try to be versatile
  • Draw your inspiration from better things instead of comparing

I’ll probably make a more detailed article about being an autodidact entrepreneur because it is something that many entrepreneurs I’ve met have in common and you can always learn a lot from these people.

Have a nice weekend and see you next time! 🙂

I’d like to echo the words of Annika Lidne, whom has given us a fantastic lecture about how to finance a start-up last week. It was really amazing because she gave us an overview of all the means you can use, with pros and cons, how much money you can get, why is it different in Europe and in the US especially for crowdfunding, etc. This last point sounded very interesting to me as I’ve already helped finance a cinema project on the European crowdfunding website last year.

But how to build a successful crowdfunding campaign?

To answer that question, I’m going to analyse the Purple® Pillow campaign, which is currently one of the most successful on Kickstarter. It has raised more than 800k$ in 11 days, and is certainly not going to stop now, as they still have 19 days left to go. The Purple Pillow is meant to be an innovative pillow that fits perfectly your neck and head to give you as much comfort as possible. The product was created by two engineers -Tony and Terry Pearce- after they’ve patented a new material called “Hyper-elastic polymer”, which makes their product unique and ingenious. So it seems quite logical that such a product can definitely succeed to raise money via Kickstarter, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than just that.

The first thing you should know is that this campaign is not Tony’s first try. He’s already successfully financed his previous product -an innovative mattress- thanks to Kickstarter. He is also quite active on this website  because he’s backed 5 other campaigns that were not his. These are probably some reasons why his current campaign seems to work so well. Being active on Kickstarter gives him visibility, and also makes people more likely to give him their money because they feel that he’s not only asking for money, he is also giving his own money to support the others, which makes him appear as a sympathetic and passionate entrepreneur. Also, thanks to his previous campaign, he’s built a sort of fan base, which is always good to have to start a new project, because they might be the first people interested and likely to give you money, especially if they were satisfied with your previous product. Another way to get people to see your project and be interested in it is to be presented on various social media -Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest to name just a few and maybe the most important ones- and that’s exactly what they’re doing right now by giving the opportunity to their backers to share the campaign to others on these social media.

Now that people are looking at you, you have to prove that you are reliable, that you can be trusted, so they will be more likely to help you finance your stuff. The way they do that is that they show they are really involved in their project. They communicate a lot, and especially they notice when a certain goal has been reached, and they don’t forget to thank all the people who support them, always with humour. They also have created a website, so people can learn more about the founders and their products. This is very important to provide enough information to people, so they can learn who you are, why you do what you’re doing. People get attached to people and especially for this kind of campaign, I think it’s really important to be liked be people because it is an quite intimate way to get financing. That’s why it’s better when people are emotionally involved with the product and with the founders.

Finally, this campaign has another huge asset -and it is my personal favourite- that is their presentation video. I highly recommend that you have a look at it because it is flawless quality-wise in my opinion, and they’ve put a lot of humour in it, that makes it is fresh and funny to watch. I feel like they really know how to advertise their product, and they make their campaign more human by being funny and showing that they’re really involved in what they do (you can actually see the two co-founders in the video.)

So what can you learn from crowdfunding websites ?

Studying crowdfunding campaigns may allow you to get amazing marketing ideas to sell your project. You can also learn a lot of stuff, how people interact on this kind of websites, how to get them to be interested in your idea, what kind of compensations you should offer to people who agree to give you their money, etc. But of course in the end, learning by doing is probably the best you can do to finally build a successful crowdfunding campaign.

And last but not least, looking at trending crowdfunding projects is also a great way to catch a glimpse of what may come in our lives in a close future, and it can be really exciting in my opinion. I remember when I first saw the Oculus Rift campaign on Kickstarter, which is a Virtual Reality headset. I was amazed by all the possibilities of such a device. It was only about two years ago and now these devices are really starting to become common products, especially in video games. I can’t wait to see if the Purple Pillow is able to make a breakthrough in the pillow market after its successful campaign, it could be really funny.

Here is an article which has inspired me to write this blog post. It gives you 10 tips about how to build successful crowdfunding campaigns, and I think it can be good to keep that in mind if you ever want to finance your own project this way.

Here is the link to the founders website, check it out.

Thank you for reading my post. Feel free to comment if you’ve already had an experience with crowdfunding, I’d really like to hear about it. See you next time!