Diane Guyot and Sebastien Floodpage: two brilliant young individuals, who started their own businesses whilst pursuing a degree. Diane and Sebastien, both went on to University of Warwick, to do their bachelors in International Management. After successfully completing their second year, they both did their year abroad at McGill University, where they decided to become young entrepreneurs. I have interviewed one of the CEO’s Diane Guyot, who sincerely answered all of the questions about their Givee journey.
You guys were one of the few young entrepreneurs who started their own business while pursuing a degree. What were the biggest challenges?
– The biggest challenge being a young entrepreneur and having to complete a degree on the side was definitely time management: whether prioritize your degree, your business or your social life. A paper can wait, but the clients can’t. The hardest time I would say was December 2016. The aim was to launch before Christmas but we found it very hard to coordinate the technical team as the university was putting pressure for papers to be handed in on time.
How did you decide to start ‘Givee’?
– It all happened on our year abroad. Sebastien and I randomly ended up at the same country, same university, same accommodation and same floor and since we didn’t have many modules at McGill, we had a lot of free time on our hands. It started at the end of September, when Sebastien was looking for a gift for my birthday and I was looking for something for my mom. We both ended up finding nothing that was close to being useful on the Internet. That night we had a conversation about our frustration that there was nothing concrete and useful out there to find gift ideas. We found a developer in our floor who was willing to give us a little hand and the sleepless nights begun to create a website that would be the reference for gift ideas.
How did you manage to get funds? Did you face any difficulties?
– We never had difficulty in getting funds because we never wanted funds. We had several offers that we denied. First of all, the investors were not willing to invest in our company if we were part time which was the case since we had one more year to go at Warwick. Secondly, we didn’t really need the money. What we needed was people close to us that could help us achieve our vision and fortunately, we found them! We worked with a team of 15 marketers and 7 developers and I think we really learned a lot from each other. And, we made a lot of good contacts to ensure that whenever we are ready to work full time, there will be people who will be willing to invest.
There is a lot of competition in the market, has it ever threatened you?
– Absolutely not! In my opinion, competition validates the idea and it validates that there is a demand for that idea. Most competitors in the market take different approaches focusing mostly on mobile apps. Plus, we can see what they are doing and get inspired to do better.
You decided to work with first year Warwick Students throughout your final year. Didn’t you think it would be more beneficial to work with a more experienced team?
– The idea to work with first year students only was very intentional because we know that as first years you don’t normally have a lot of experience in your CV and you want to make the best out of your fresher year. Our aim was to inspire the team that we chose and teach them about entrepreneurship, about making designs, creating marketing strategies and working in the team. We really hoped to teach and grow with them and motivate them to fully take advantage from studying in one of the best universities in the UK; such as, seeing professionals, taking part in societies and especially participating at Warwick Incubators competitions.
You were the winners of London Shard Event 2017, how did you benefit from that experience?
– Winning the Warwick Incubator at the Shard Event was extremely beneficial as we got the opportunity to pitch in front of a room full of Angel investors and Venture Capitalists. Although it was quite stressful to get on stage and deliver a good pitch, it was an extremely valuable experience because we got approached by a lot of important people afterwards that we are still in touch with and some of them mentor us regularly.
What advice can you give to people out there who want to start their business?
– Finding a good co-founding team is the most important : find one or two people that have complementary skills to yours. It is not enough to be friends. If you want to be involved in digital, then one person must be a developer/tech person to make your ideas happen. The idea is not the most important, execution is more important. Start a business because you are passionate about changing something in the world, you are going to learn so much and have so much fun. So just do it.