Business Week in New York : FreshPlanet

On February 21st, 2017, we had the pleasure of meeting Mathieu Nouzareth, the French CEO of Freshplanet. Mathieu is a serial web entrepreneur who studied at Grenoble École de Management. He created his first three startups in 1995, at the beginning of the Internet age. In 1997, his business experienced a strong takeoff. For this reason, he decided to sell his business in 1999. Mathieu explained us that his goal was to create a company not necessary to make it last for a long time but mainly to sell it at the right moment.

He talked a little bit more about his job and explained us that being an entrepreneur is not an easy task (only about 3% success rate) and can be stressful. “ If you want your firm to get bigger and to succeed, it is difficult because you have to invest a lot in marketing and communication to be visible on a large scale”, he said. Fortunately, the company he has built with one of his brothers didn’t generate as much stress and the salary was much higher. “You cannot expect a lot of money when building a startup. Do not become an entrepreneur if you look for a high salary” he added.

What was really interesting was the fact that Mathieu not only spoke about his project, but he also gave us advice and spoke more generally about creating new ventures in the US and in NY in particular. For example, he explained us that 2008 wasn’t a great period in the United States for startups because there was a loss of trust, so it was difficult to find funding. “When you are an entrepreneur, you – almost – always have conflicting relationships with investors. Indeed, investors tend to focus on maximizing their ROI. But investors are also a key aspect of a good business for the network they can bring in”.

While Mathieu was on the edge of bankruptcy, he was quietly walking alone under a bridge of San Francisco thinking how he could avoid a major business failure. He then suddenly found THE game idea that would revolutionize his firm: SongPop. All the economic success of Mathieu is based on this app. At the beginning, it was not really a success but it became one on the day Mark Zuckerberg said that it was the best game he had played in a while. SongPop is a blind music test app. Mathieu’s aim is to develop a game, gain loyal customers and find a way to monetize it. The users are mainly Americans, English, Swiss (Swiss users are spending the most money in the app). 75% of users are women and 25% are men. He has noticed that the older the users are, the more they will spend money.

We asked him about his future projects. He answered that he is currently trying to maintain the success of SongPop and he was thinking about creating a TV show.

In conclusion, from this meeting we learned that entrepreneurship is not an easy job. It can also be very stressful to create a startup and to have it last in the future. Finally, we learned through the example of the financial crisis that things are uncertain and that the economic environment can have a huge impact on a startup’s success.

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