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.
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Born in Paris: A Mathematician’s Journey into Entrepreneurship
Sacha Lazimi’s journey began in the vibrant city of Paris, where he was born and later pursued his studies in mathematics. While mathematics might seem an unlikely precursor to entrepreneurship, Sacha’s choice was pragmatic – it was the field where he excelled during his school days.
In his own words, “To be honest, I was only good at mathematics at school. So that’s why I chose this path because it was the easier thing to do on my side.”
The Spark of Entrepreneurship: A Chance Meeting and a Bold Idea
The turning point in Sacha’s journey came when he met Jérémie Aouate, an entrepreneur and co-founder who had been building products since the age of fifteen. Inspired by Jerey’s entrepreneurial spirit, Sacha embarked on his first product launch, a library-focused application designed to connect students anonymously.
Students entering the library could communicate with anyone. The application was so successful that within two weeks of giving out flyers at the university entrance, Sacha and his team got 10,000 sign-ups.
However, their initial success was overshadowed by issues of bullying and the intervention of the school’s directors. Undeterred, Sacha and his co-founder decided to pivot, acknowledging the challenges they faced. This resilience would become a recurring theme in Sacha’s entrepreneurial endeavors.
Learning from Failure: The Rise and Fall of a Dating App
The next chapter in Sacha’s journey involved launching a dating app named “Twelve.” Along with one more partner, Arthur Patora, Sacha, and Jérémie built the app that aimed to connect individuals for various purposes, including dating, networking, and sports.
All three co-founders were still in engineering school. Despite a promising start and significant user sign-ups, the app faced a critical flaw – low conversion, engagement, and retention rates despite having 30,000 users.
Sacha candidly reflects on this experience, stating, “We really learned 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.”
Sacha recalls how they tested all the ideas they had but without any results. Not only were the metrics not going up, but they were actually going down to a point when Sacha and his partners had no more ideas they could try.
They simply decided to move on to building something new, leveraging their experiences with the Twelve App.
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The Pivot to Success: Yubo and Social Discovery
Undeterred by setbacks, Sacha and his team embarked on a new journey, leading to the creation of Yubo, a platform rooted in Social Discovery. Recognizing a need for young people to socialize online, Yubo filled a niche where users could connect, make friends, and belong to a virtual community.
Sacha shares the pivotal moment when Yubo achieved product-market fit, stating, “We noticed that our engagement metric, the time spent on the platform, multiplied by 5 times, and we knew that we had a product-market fit.”
As Sasha reveals, the first version of Yubo was a platform where users could create a profile with videos and images of themselves. They could also add their Snapchat username as their handles. Next, they could choose the people they wanted to add to their Snapchat by answering questions about their objectives.
For instance, whether the users wanted to become influencers or make new friends. They could also add more information about their age and location. Yubo’s target audience was Gen Z, with 99% of the users aged 13 to 17 who wanted to socialize online by using social media handles.
Monetization and Scaling: Overcoming Challenges
With Yubo’s success came the need for monetization and scaling. Sacha navigated the challenging terrain of fundraising, experiencing the highs of quick rounds and the lows of unexpected obstacles, including a press article that momentarily disrupted their plans.
Sacha remembers approaching 20 to 30 different angel investors who wrote them small checks. It took them nine months to close the first round and another seven to close the second. Running out of runway was a problem since the application was scaling quickly.
Reflecting on the funding journey, Sacha reveals, “So, in total, we raised €60 million in four rounds, and we had a huge growth from the beginning because we reached 10 million signups in a year, and we were only 3 to 5 people in the company.”
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Words of Wisdom: Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead
In hindsight, Sacha offers valuable advice to his past self and aspiring entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of building a product before focusing on monetization. He advocates for adapting strategies, avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach, and learning from mistakes to fuel continuous improvement.
Sacha concludes, “We never stopped trying, even after failing, and I think we arrived where we are with this monetization, this money raised, and this size of the team because we made all the mistakes that we could make, and we learned from those mistakes.”
Conclusion: A Journey of Innovation and Perseverance
Sacha Lazimi’s journey from mathematics to entrepreneurship is a story of resilience, adaptation, and innovation. It illustrates how setbacks can lead to breakthroughs and the importance of continuous learning in the ever-evolving landscape of startups. As Yubo continues to thrive in the realm of Social Discovery, Sacha’s journey serves as an inspiring narrative for aspiring entrepreneurs charting their own course in the world of business.
Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:
- 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.