Julien Hobeika is Co-Founder and CEO at WePopp, a mobile platform allowing people to collaboratively plan nights out with friends.
Great leaders know how to listen well to people and then rally people around a vision without much arguing. It requires great talent to understand everyone’s reasoning and to say what needs to be said in a way that makes absolute sense for everyone.
Since March 2013 we’ve been working at Le Camping (the most famous accelerator in Paris). Back in March we were working on a web application on which we iterated a lot. Since Late June we started iterating on mobile and we found a much bigger market fit than before.
Our product is viral by nature. Invitees don’t need to create an account or download the app to respond to invites so an organizer can easily create an event (or a Popp, as we call it) from his very first use because he doesn’t have to convert all his friends to the service. Even no, we’re relying on a lot of early PR.
In order to have a fast and efficient working team, everyone should share and understand the same goal and vision. This means that each time we discuss our roadmap or strategy, we encourage people to strongly argue what they think the right thing to do is even if some voices raise a little. The goal is to be on the same page at the end of the meeting.
We try to stick to lean management and agile development.
In our case we’ll talk about the first 1,000 users we acquired when we basically recruited users in a non-scalable way:
- Talked to friends.
- Created our friend’s accounts manually.
- Forced our friends to use our app in a real situation (by inviting their friends to plan something).
- Went into the street and sold to everyone that agreed to talk to you.
From all of this we understood from trial and error that the web application we developed wasn’t suited to solve the problem. So we developed the mobile version and those 1,000 users started to love it I (and we didn’t need to ask them to use it anymore).
We did a few tough things to forward our vision.
The first one paid off: recruiting our friends and forcing them to use the service when it was not ready. It’s was really hard to do and you really need to forget about your pride at that moment.
The second one also paid off: we’ve never been afraid to contact big potential partners even when our product sucked so we signed and secured major partners very early. Now our user base is growing a lot and we’re ready to implement those partners. We saved time on that.
We’re currently raising 100k of love money. We noticed that we could probably raise 400k but our objective is to prove exponential growth through virality and then raise a few million in 2014. To do that we only need 100k. So we didn’t get greedy and we’ll be able to close the deal earlier.
We’re Paris-based where Facebook still seems a bit inaccessible. I recently spent a sleepless night reaching out to classmates now working in the Bay Area. This exercise showed me that I had more Facebook connections than I thought… which paid off with free advertising (via recommendations).