In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, success often comes from a journey marked by trial and error, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to innovation. Sacha Lazimi’s entrepreneurial voyage is a testament to these qualities, as he transitioned from studying mathematics in Paris to becoming the co-founder of Yubo, a leading platform in Social Discovery.
The venture, Yubo, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Sweet Capital, Village Global, Eurazeo Pme, and IRIS.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Sacha Lazimi’s journey showcases that resilience and learning from mistakes are key elements in overcoming the setbacks inherent in entrepreneurship.
- Building a successful product goes beyond having a good idea; it requires solving a genuine need and ensuring user engagement.
- Recognizing when to pivot is crucial; Yubo’s success emerged from pivoting towards Social Discovery and addressing the socialization needs of Generation Z.
- Yubo’s breakthrough came with achieving product-market fit, marked by a significant increase in user engagement and time spent on the platform.
- Sacha advises focusing on building the product before pursuing monetization, highlighting the importance of adapting strategies to fit the unique nature of each venture.
- Navigating fundraising involves overcoming hurdles, from convincing initial investors to facing unexpected obstacles like negative press coverage.
- Yubo’s success is attributed to an unwavering commitment to innovation, constantly testing and adapting strategies to stay ahead in the fast-paced world of social discovery platforms.
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About Sacha Lazimi:
Sacha Lazimi is the CEO of Yubo, a social application that meets people through the concept of ‘One day, One person’.
Prior to Yubo, Sacha was the Co-Founder & CEO at Twelve, a social application that meets people through the concept of ‘One day, One person.’
Sacha has also been the Co-Founder & CEO of Saloon, a geolocated group chat where people communicate anonymously.
Sacha Lazimi has a degree in engineering from CentraleSupélec and a master’s degree in engineering from Université Paris Dauphine – PSL.
Sacha also has a Baccalauréat Scientifique from Lycée Maurice Ravel.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: All righty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So do they? We have a very interesting founder. You know he’s saying now building a very exciting business. Um, you know without a doubt his journey is quite remarkable I mean we’re gonna be talking about all the good stuff that we like to hear like building scaling financing. And so forth. You know some of the things that we’re going to be talking about is how they went you know him and his cofounders about iterating things going from 1 project to another one until they really hit a nerve with what they’re doing today. So quite a journey so without further ado. Let’s welcome. Our guest today. Sasha La See me welcome to the show.
Sacha Lazimi: Um, thank you, Thank you E Handra Very excited to be here.
Alejandro Cremades: So originally born in Paris give us a walk through memory lane. How is life growing up.
Sacha Lazimi: Yeah, life. Ah, what was good. Ah I was born ah in Paris then ah at 18 I study mathematics at paradaphin and this is when ah I launch my first product with my with the same cofounder and then I joined an engineering school. When I met myself counder we launch a 7 product and I’ve been building products in said twelve years now and I didn’t stop.
Alejandro Cremades: Um.
Alejandro Cremades: And and obviously we’ll we’ll get into that just a little bit. We’re gonna be talking about yubo and and the other you know projects in just a little bit but in your case, How do you? How do you get? you know, excited about engineering and and before that mathematics you know why numbers some problem solving where that’s that come from? yeah.
Sacha Lazimi: To be honest, I was only good at mathematics at school. So that’s why I chose this pass because it was ah the easier thing to do on my on my side and to be honest honest I I didn’t really know when I was fifteen sixteen what I wanted to do so I choose. But I was good at basically.
Alejandro Cremades: Now 1 thing that is really remarkable is that right out of school I mean actually right in school. You know that’s when you started to really think about you know ideas and and what you could do and perhaps you know launching companies. How did the first one. You know, actually the idea of really going at it with the first one that was saloon how how did that? come to mind.
Sacha Lazimi: Yeah, so it’s truly because I met Jerey the cpo of today that was already an entrepreneur and building product when he was ah fifteen years old with his browser. I was working with him and doing my studies with with him. Ah at the same university and at some point he told me hey let’s build a product I have an idea and and and I know ah some some coding and the ideas with saloon was to connect. Students with a niper gellloated application where a student could communicate aonymous fee. So basically at idea was you were entering to the library and you could ask to anyone in the group if there is some space in your them or is they have ah some mathematics books that you forgot to bring and we. Learn how to code and we launched this product within three months wide today and to to market this product. We just give some flyers at the entrance of the university we got like 10000 sign-ups within two weeks so it worked. Very well in terms of a conversion but we have some bullying issues because students were inserting teachers or also student as it was anonymous and we got pushed to stop this project from the directors of the school saying that. Ah, it’s.
Sacha Lazimi: Complicated for our reputation and you need to choose azure to continue working studying or working on your product and we were very young. We launched this product and it was clearly complicated to to deal with all of these problems. So we said? Okay, we learned a product we know how to do it. Let’s focus on our studies and and let’s launch a new product. Ah a bit later.
Alejandro Cremades: So then a bit later I mean you you you guys actually spend like about a year on this. So obviously a bit later you know came right? You know I would say about a year after you know and and that was with 12 so so 12 now you know it sounds like you’ve had the. Opportunity of getting that experience with saloon saying what it looks like you know to get people to sign up to to really being up a solution to a problem that you guys were encountering y 12.
Sacha Lazimi: So after after this product we both enter in an engineering school and we missed 1 team member. It was someone that know how to cut the backend pot and this guy was Arthur that I met in my engineering school. And we had an idea of being able to meet 1 person every day azor for networking for sports for dating for friendship and this product was basically 12. We decided to focus on dating part because it was easy to. Focus on one vertical and the idea was to meet every day at twelve one person to chat with them to date with this person only with one person per day so it was a very good idea. All our friend was saying that they were used this platform so we code it. Also in six months with Jeremy and Arthur and to get the first users we went on oz dating us like tinder ah to market the application 12 and said tinder is not working os are are dking up are not working. You should go on 12 and you will have 1 date. Per day. But what happened is we work on this product during 2 years we had a bad conversion rate. We had no users that were really speaking on our platform even by choosing by hand the matches they would get on the on the platform.
Sacha Lazimi: So at some point we said Okay, it’s a good idea. Everyone loves it. But no one is using it and we need to stop and and find ah a new product.
Alejandro Cremades: So then so then obviously you know like with 12 it was the second time around you know the second time that they that you hit a wall you know and the first time you know you’re like hey maybe maybe you know we were not lucky you know, maybe you could blame the school second time. You know, then you probably question yourself and you question many things I’m sure that that was very tough for you guys.
Sacha Lazimi: Yeah, yeah, it was it was it was quite tough, especially after 2 years of iteration we had around certaink synaps and and we were saying why? why and we were asking why it’s not working. We had a great way to to get new users. And we are choosing by hand people to to to to so speak together. But at some point as we we had really no engagement on the on the platform we understood that tinder and oating app were working well and they were really solving this need ofnding. Ah, their soulmate and an outproduc where I’m not making a lead and even if it was a good idea. It wasn’t working because there were not a goodver rate in no engagement so we really learn that having a good idea is not enough when you create a product. And it doesn’t mean that it will solve a need or solve an issue that people have and it doesn’t mean that people will use your product even if it’s a good idea.
Alejandro Cremades: So ah, what point do you guys realize I think it’s time to pull the clock tell us what what did that day look like.
Sacha Lazimi: at some point we we we tested all the ideas we we have we had and the metrics were not going up they were continuously going down and at some point we also even have no more ideas to test and to. Inclement on the platform and that we were also telling ou ourselves. Why are we doing that knowing that no one is basically using the platform are we working on nothing are we iterating on. Um, um, nothing and are we not getting more tired and wasting out time on nothing. So. It was quite difficult but we said okay, we are still student. It’s even our second product and what was important is we did better better from the first product because the first product we have 10000 users this product we have 30 k users but no engagement and no retention rate and. Not a good activation so we said okay, let’s try to be 100 % focused on a new product with a new method that will be not based on an idea but based um, a problem to solve a need to solve. And this time it was not going to be wise studying but we said okay, we are going to take a ah gap here and we need to make something that will work this time to be successful. Otherwise we would.
Sacha Lazimi: So we we told ourselves that it wasn’t the the right task for us to be entrepreneurs.
Alejandro Cremades: So so that Gap year I mean what were some of the things that you were looking into on how were you guys thinking through things to that moment that led to you guys having the idea of you both knocking on your door and you being like my God I think I think this is it. Let’s let’s go.
Sacha Lazimi: Yeah, so so first of all to be ah to be anf at the beginning we we did didn’t look for ideas but we look for needs and for blame online and the problem we we noticed online was. And was that millions of people are sharing their social handles to find new followers or new friends on social network and this is still happening even today but we noticed that it was maybe happening on snapchat. And we noticed at 6000 of tweets per day where about people looking for new friends on snapchat and looking for new username. So we had a niche and we had a needs millions of people millions of of people. We’re sharing the snapchat userna online and we wanted to understand why they weres showinging the snapchat user name online if it was to become an influencer if it was to make new friends and who were sharinging just snapchat username and based on that based on this problem we created a product. Only solve this need to make new friends on snapchat. So the first version of yubo was a platform where you were creating a profile with video and pictures of your sell you were of yourself. You were adding a snapchat username that was Haydn and you were choosing.
Sacha Lazimi: Which people you want to add on snapchat and based on this product we could answers the question and the hypothesis we had which was do you want to become an influencers. Do you want to make new friends and who are you because when you were signing up on the platform you were entering. Your location and your age and you could have more information about ah about your center.
Alejandro Cremades: So Then at this point then you know walk us through that moment where you were like Okay I think that they we got it and how did it look like when you really did the launch and and really brought it to a point where. Where it is today. You know that but that business model How does it look like you know how? how do you guys make money.
Sacha Lazimi: Yeah, so so so so the first thing is we had a niche and we had a a target basically that was big because millions of people were showings of snapsht reason name then we built a first version of the product to answers this need and we had a way to target this need. So the way to target this need was basically to add all the people that were sharing their social handles online to market our application ubo and said you will make even more friends if you try ubo and this was working very well and we had a great conversion rate. so we had a niche we had a a great conversion rate we had a way to target Kipo it was working well and then our users that was done doneing yubo were using our platform to make new friends on our platform so we understood. That our targete was a generation zed because 99% of our users were between 13 to 17 years old back in ah 2016 we understood that the need behind sharing the snapshot username or social handles was ready to socialize online because. The use are more connected are the most connected people in the world and they have exactly the same need of socializing offline online and this need wasn’t answered yet by actual social network and they were trying to find a way to.
Sacha Lazimi: Socialize online bysuring the social handles and as we had this niche. We had a good commercial rate and they were using our platform we understood that we needed to go further just ah enough to find new social handles and we implemented it features. To unsear this need of socializing online. So what we did is basically we take the best of offline interaction and we added that to you will to be able to reproduce the way of how you socialize offline online on our platform and it took us 3 years to have this product and. When we had this product. We basically live group chat and a way to really have the same socialization effect you have at the party or at the club where you are meeting new people when you were entering on ah on newable and speaking with 1 person or a group of person in a minute like. You would do in real life. We notice that our engagement metric the time spent on the platform multiplied by 5 times and we knew that we had a product market hit and it was back in ah, 2018 I would say and at this point.
Sacha Lazimi: We said that now that we have a produced market fit. We need to grow and to grow we needed to monetize the platform to make money to accelerate our growth through marketing.
Alejandro Cremades: And then the yeah the the capital racing process too because obviously as you’re growing. You need to capitalize the operation. So how much capital have you guys raised to date and what has been the journey of raising the money to.
Sacha Lazimi: So in total that we raised 60000000 sixty zero millionion we’ve made false rounds and we had a huge growth from the beginning because we reached 10000000 signups in a year and we were only 3 people in the company 3 to 5 people. Until 2000 and and 17 even 2018 in the company and what was expensive was only the server cost so at the beginning as we were not monetizing the platform we raised to basically pay for the server cost and pay for our growth and the scalability of the platform. And so investors invested mainly in the team that built previous product and the knowledge we had on improving the way of how people connect and interact online. They didn’t really invest on the product because we are still building something new. We are building a new. Category which we call social discovery which is not something you can compare to actual social network because we do not compete with them on yubo you are here to extend your social network and to socialize with new people you you don’t know from your network which was very. And still new for investors and vcs that invest in ah in consumer product and after monetizing our investors and round we’ve made invested really on the potentialll of the scaldity of our platform.
Sacha Lazimi: And on the product market hit we had and they were right because with the monetization we we had in less than three years we reach ah more than a hundred of Millions Euros of gross revenue only through inapppochase and and and subscription which is not typical. Ah, for social platform. Ah.
Alejandro Cremades: And how is also the journey of going through these different rounds. You know that you’ve done you’ve done 3 rounds in in Europe.
Sacha Lazimi: Yeah, we’ve we’ve done even false rounds. So the first one. Ah, we’ve made ah after a year after the first lunch of ubo and it was only with business on jen and it was quite difficult. Um, because ah, no one was.
Sacha Lazimi: We’re understanding what we were building and we had to go to 20 to 30 different business angels writing small checks between a 5 k to fifty k and it was ah ah quite a difficult journey. It took me nine months to convinced and to close the round then the second round we had to do it seven months after the first run because ah our growth was really fast and the server cost was quite ah, expensive and we didn’t have enough. Runway. Um, and this run was also quite ah difficult because I think I met a hundred of investors and we had 99 no and only 1 investors said said yes, the third round. Ah, was in 2019 based on the first phrase of the monetization. Ah we had and it was at the beginning very easy because in less than two months we had 2 term sheets but we we got a bad press article that basically missed the qui. All the leadershipship we had and we had to stop everything because we were supposed to raise we didn’t phrase um and it took us six months six more months to do the round but we we did it and the last one was drink covid because we were one of the lukeias.
Sacha Lazimi: Company to explode ah during covid because our users are using the platform and social as online when they have time so after school during holiday. So when there is shape plug downs they were using the platform like crazy and these froms was quite easy I would say because everyone was calling us saying hey. Your platform is exploding. We want to to invest and we did around online through Zoom and it was ah quite ah, interesting.
Alejandro Cremades: That’s amazing. That’s amazing and now when when when you now are doing the round B assume I mean what were some of the different dynamics that you encounter I mean how were you able to run an effective process. You know of of of racing money be assume and. Because that’s now what we are encountering I’m sure there’s a lot of people that are listening to you now and and wondering hey I Wonder how they did it because I’m going to have to encounter this as Well. What made it effective for you guys when you were doing it be assume.
Sacha Lazimi: So the most difficult things when when you try to to to raise fund is to have your first lead or at least your first commits and your first investors and when I did the first round. What was very difficult is was that everyone was saying yes, this is very interesting but. Call me when you have your first investor that really know about your market. So what I did at the beginning is I contacted all the funders of consumer platform and social platform to get feedback from my product and at the end of each call I asked them. Do you know any investor that could be interested in what. I’m doing or any older funders or cofounders that could help us in our journey and I did a lot of call like that and each time I was able to meet 3 more people and this is how I met my first ah business from jail that said, yes I’m going to invest this guy was ah John manone. As the former Ceo of Tumblr and when these guy said okay guys I’m going to write a check I called back to all the investor that said okay I’m interested but I need to have experts that want to invest in your company then they said okay I’m going to invest and I’m also going to to write a small check with you. And what I did during those nine months is every two weeks I was sending an update to everyone creating follow and every two weeks I was trying to bring news like the number of signups the number of users ah commits. We had the people we met.
Sacha Lazimi: Etc etc to create a relationship with with them.
Alejandro Cremades: Now when it comes to you know, creating the relationship and getting them excited to invest obviously a big one is vision. So let’s say you were to go to sleep tonight Sasha and you wake up in a world where the vision of you boy is fully realized what does that world look like.
Sacha Lazimi: So We we are a leader in in Social Discovery and we as a company that you will go and we as the other you will go to the other in a minute to connect with real people with me and have meaningful interaction with them. Like you would do if you were going to a party and starting speaking with new people and and having fun and just hanging out with other people from the same interest from the same age group because hanging out with older people and socializing with older people is basicallyary need for teams and for use. And it’s a way for you to grow naturally and to belong to something and this is what we are building. Yubo is to enable an empire use to discover and belong to to the world.
Alejandro Cremades: Now talking about the future here I want to talk about the past because so you see there’s quite a bit of reflection here, especially all the craziness and the projects and you know the good stuff now that has come out of it. You know with you will let’s say you were to go into this time machine that I put you in. And I’m able to bring you back in time I’m able to bring you back in time to that moment where you got started with a company or even before you know to that moment that you were just entering engineering school and you’re now dreaming. You know what could be that world where you would build a business and bring it to life. Let’s say. You’re able to have a sit down in that classroom next to that younger Sasha and you’re able to whisper on Sasha’s you know, younger self ear one piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Sacha Lazimi: So It’s a very good question. What I would say to myself is a buildup product and stop monetizing right away even if it’s a social product and it will change your journey journey and do not try to. Have exactly the same model of O your social platform and also consumer platform that are not monetizing and waiting to have hundred of millions of daily active users before monetizing and monetizing through ads and raising basically a ton of money because this is what we try to do. And I’m pretty sure that if at the beginning we monetize the platform right? Away. It would have been much more easier to raise money and it would have been much more faster to go where we are today.
Alejandro Cremades: You know one thing that is very interesting. You know from your journey is that now this is the third you know initiative the the third time is a charm. You know as they say and it sounds like on the first go at it and the second go at it. There is 1 thing that perhaps was a breakthrough. And you correct me if I’m wrong. But at least you know from from hearing you out. That’s what what is there for me and that is that something shifted on the way that you reflect towards you know things that maybe don’t work out and it sounds like all these different iterations and really thinking through. And understanding the problem has allowed you to bring something of incredible value that has now you know given you guys the opportunity of building you will. How do you How? How do you think that those previous 2 experiences have shaped the way that you think the way that you. Reflect about things that maybe didn’t work out and how to learn from them and how to bounce back from things to make it happen.
Sacha Lazimi: And I think it’s because we we we never stop trying and we never stop. Its rat even after failing and I think we arrived there atible with this monetization this money raised and this money. And and and and this size of the of the team because we made all the mistakes that we could make and we learn from those mistakes and each time we were making a mistake we were making sure that we learned something from it and that we are not going to do the same mistake. And just testing new things and testing as many things as we could ah so the fastest way we we we could do it and even today is ah what we we try to do in our organization even by growing as a company is how we can be. Faster and how we can be sure that we will test as many things as we can in the fastest way possible to get answers and as long as we get answers. We can move forward and as long as we can move for one. We can that we we know that we are stronger.
Alejandro Cremades: I love it I love it. So for the people that are listening Sasha that they will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.
Sacha Lazimi: They they can send me an email sasha at ubo live and they can also contact me on Linkedin I will try to to to answer to everyone.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well hey satha thank you so much for being on the deal maker show. It has been an honor to have you with us today. Yeah.
Sacha Lazimi: Um, thank you. Thank you Android that has been ah, an honor also to answer your question.
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