First hired, first to leave.
The day I realised I no longer belong to the company I used to love.
Chapter 1: Back few months earlier
I landed in Paris two years ago. I was a classic student who had just graduated, had no brillant grades at school, and just followed my ex-girlfriend in a town I did not appreciate that much.
During a few months, I hanged out with a friend in “The city of lights” trying to identify what could be my next step. I’m kind of a daydreamer, having many ideas within the same minute, but I was too scared to jump into the unknown of the entrepreneurship. One day, I was heading home, alone in a bus when I had an idea: connect people like me with an app in the real life and help them to make activities like sports, cinema, anything. Naïve is the word to describe this project, but it was a good start.
For the first time I decided to go beyond my fear, and I started to look how I could build this app. My plan: having an app up and running within two weeks. I asked naively to a friend — a really talented developper — if he could help me out. He brought me back to the reality: this kind of product has a real cost and need more than two weeks. I said “Well, is there any other options?” — he told me: “Why don’t you try a startup weekend?”.
Chapter 2: A startup what?
Startup weekend, a place where awesome people with awesome skills meet awesome ideas during 54 hours, and you only have 60 secondes to pitch that awesome (or not) idea.
I did not really know what a startup was, but I did my homework. I prepared my 60 sec speech, and pitched my idea called Bridge in front of 70 persons. Guess what? Bridge was selected. We did not win, but it was still a small victory for a guy like me. This first introduction to the startup ecosystem was unforgettable: I discovered a world I loved.
Chapter 3: Fighting food waste like a Hero!
At OptiMiam, we fight food waste by connecting stores to the nearby consumer in order to sell their food surplus with a discount.
On the 2nd June 2015, I joined OptiMiam as a Digital Marketing Manager. The good part with startups: you have a job with real responsibilities, even as a trainee. I was working hard for a meaningful company and managed projects from ‘zero to one’, eg. The first tricycle in France to fight food waste.
Chapter 4: From intern, to first employee
On January 2016, we officially announced a fundraising of 600K€. We were proud, and we knew challenges we faced months before were only a glimpse of what would happened next.
It was scary and motivating at the same time. From five people we grew to fifteen really quickly. I finally had a full term contract — let’s pop champagne— and a team of 2 people to managed.
Forget about what you learnt at school, management is not your typical course you have on Monday. I quickly faced my limits and got a lot of experience from that.
Chapter 5: The chicken and the egg debate
It’s one of the biggest challenge with every marketplace. Where do we have to start: acquiring shops or final consumers?
At the beginning of OptiMiam, our beta test was focused on one neighbourhood with ten shops and a restricted community, sending daily emails to inform them about deals around. Then we came up with an app. Everyone loved our concept and it actually did not help.
We wanted to grow our shops list fast, a bit too fast. Only three salesmen were knocking every shops’ door of the capital. Our offer was hard to sell and we had few stores scattered in Paris. In the mean time, food wasting were in the mouth of every media. Our number of users were growing fast, but not concentrated around our partners: it means no impact to our in store traffic.
The media gave us credit, it made us blind, and we forgot to focus on the product.
Chapter 6: Money is not the only key
Every week you read in the newspaper about a new acquisition, or a fundraising. I feel like it’s one of the only thing that motivates entrepreneurs. Some startups completely forget the meaning of having a real product or solving a real problem and they even set aside the whole user experience.
Everyone has an idea. But it’s really about executing the idea and attracting other people to help you work on the idea.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of twitter
Beyond that, we were too focused on developing too many projects and many features at the same time. It is good, but it can also kill you. Stick to the basics and really test it 100%.
Final chapter: Thank you OptiMiam
Sometimes you feel like there is something wrong in your life. It happened to me when I realised the boat I was in was only looking for the gold, not sharing a real adventure and make the best out of it. So, I decided to quit.
From this experience I learnt three main things I’d like to share:
1. Find the right talent and invest on them, alone, your idea worth shit.
2. Don’t be scared to test, you’ll make mistake, step backward and you’ll always find the right way.
If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.
Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn
I don’t believe 100% that quote, but in a way Reid Hoffman says right. I would add: don’t stick too long with a shitty product.
3. To me entrepreneurship means real passion. If you do it to get rich, you’ll have a bad time and die with your idea.
To conclude, I would like to thank OptiMiam’s co-founders who trusted me in the first place and with whom I shared amazing memories. I would like to thank the entire team with whom I also had so much great time. Thank you, all.