Sébastien Bourguignon is a manager in the insurance industry, an expert in social networks and “growth hacking”, and is passionate about the digital world and entrepreneurship. As part of a project called ‘Portrait of a Startuper’, Sébastien wanted to meet with Cyril Marchal, President and founder of Lucky Cart. Here is the transcript of their conversation below.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS?
Lucky Cart is “the Promogaming® company”. We have a simple aim: to innovate in the field of promotions by giving distributers and brands the technological means to optimise their promotional budgets – which are extremely important – by making what we call random discounts. For example, a classic 10% discount can change into a 1 in 10 chance of winning what you buy, or even 1 weaker chance but with the possibility of winning €10,000. Consumers all have a different perception of the risk, and before the creation of Lucky Cart, they didn’t have a choice: discounts were definite, but not necessarily appealing.
Promogaming® allows consumers to dream by promising them a chance – obviously lower than 100% but still real and significant – of winning something they deem to be of value. Our job consists of putting the good offer in front of each consumer to maximise their interest in the promotion, and so improve the ROI of whoever finances it, namely the distributer or the brand.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PRODUCT / SERVICE?
As so often, it was pure chance.
During a business trip to China a few years ago, I asked for a receipt in a restaurant to put it on the account when I returned, and when I saw a little scratch panel on top, I asked what it was for. The Chinese who were eating dinner with me explained that in order to fight against VAT fraud, the management had decided to put lottery tickets in each bill to encourage consumers to ask for them, and thereby force traders to declare all levied VAT.
When I returned to France I did some legal research and I was lucky because a judgement from the European Court of Justice had just legalised games with obligation to purchase. Therefore, overnight, promotional lotteries became legal even if national laws of different European countries stated the opposite. That was all it took to launch so long as I found good associates, and I was lucky in that too as everything came together very quickly!
WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS, YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
I didn’t create Lucky Cart with the idea of selling the company to make a profit. What I like above all is to build from scratch. As the company grows, I hope I am able to be there surrounded by people who built Lucky Cart from the first day.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
I am not scared of wanting to change the established order and I think I have qualities in my flaws. I am perseverant, creative and ambitious. This means that I am sometimes a bit stubborn, disorganised, but I knew to surround myself with complementary people to make sure the project doesn’t suffer too much from my flaws! Knowing yourself, and knowing who to surround yourself with, is an essential quality for creating a business.
WHAT IS YOUR INITIAL EDUCATION?
I graduated from ESSEC where I did a major in finance. A training which is useful to me every day insofar as it gave me the foundations for being capable of understanding the experts that we recruit in areas as varied as law, marketing, finance or mathematics (we do a lot of probability/statistics).
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
Professionally, I like to play with ideas and convince people so as to make things progress. My personal life is very fulfilling as well.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CAREER AS AN ENTREPRENEUR? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AN ENTREPRENEUR?
At the end of my studies, I moved slowly but surely towards the trading room. Then a few months before graduating, a friend asked me to lend him a hand in drafting his business plan, he wanted to create a games development studio on a PC. I helped him, he was offered a meeting at AXA-IM, asked me to go with him, and I came out of this meeting with the title of President of a company which didn’t exist yet but which had just found its first financial partner. In the end the venture was relatively short but extremely enriching.
One can therefore say that I have been an entrepreneur since the end of my studies, even if in the meantime I have worked for large groups such as Vivendi or Ubisoft.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU BEEN FACED WITH IN THIS VENTURE?
I confess I don’t really have one in mind even though there have been many! I am an endless optimist so I don’t dwell on them. Failures help you to develop, and difficulties allow you to challenge yourself. And at Lucky Cart we think you must always and above all look forward!
ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT ARE THE KEY SUCCESS FACTORS TO SUCCEED IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
You definitely need a bit of madness to start up whilst thinking, very strongly, that you will succeed in transforming an idea into reality.
WHAT TYPE OF FINANCING DID YOU USE TO LAUNCH YOUR COMPANY?
We created Lucky Cart between three of us and we financed it using our own funds for almost a year. Then, once we had developed a first version of the service and signed with our first client, we suggested to our close relatives that they participate in a capital increase.
Employees also had the opportunity to take part in the funding round and we chose to encourage them to do it via a system of employer contribution to an employee investment in the company. We only started to open capital to institutional investors roughly a year ago: once we had proved the relevance of our model to some fifty clients, it was time to speed up.
IF THERE WAS ONLY ONE, WHAT WOULD BE THE FOCAL POINT TO MONITOR AS A PRIORITY WHEN EMBARKING ON THE STARTUP VENTURE?
The human, surrounding yourself with competent and complimentary people is crucial. And furthermore, remain concentrated on your priorities, do not abandon any of your vision, all the while listening to your partners to make a few changes.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WISHING TO LAUNCH THEIR OWN STARTUP?
Don’t spend too much time drafting a business plan and do not be afraid of launching, even if everyone thinks you’re mad. An idea is neither good nor bad, above all it’s the execution that counts, and the entrepreneur’s ability to challenge themselves without losing sight of their aim.