Our radical new strategy

Apple

A couple of months ago, we decided to change Appetise’s strategy. It was so radical that overnight, we cut our advertising spending. All of it.

The reasons behind this shift is a topic I have wanted to write about. I have just finished a post on the Appetise Blog.

“Looking forward, it was clear to us that being a company people love is paramount. We started planning and anlysing our customer base and we realised Appetise had a problem.”

Here is the link to the post: Our radical new strategy: Share the love – Behind the scenes. I will go more in depth here very soon, but I believe it is a decent start.

Behind the scenes posts

For the past two weeks, I’ve been writing a series of posts on Appetise’s Blog called “Behind the scenes”. These posts are open, public and transparent explanations of how Appetise works and how we are growing the company.

Here’s why I am sharing this information :

  • I believe it can generate valuable customer feedback. I like the idea of creating such a level of transparency that customers will truly adhere to the company we are building.
  • It may generate substantial customer retention. Customers may feel that they are contributing and being involved in the development of the company.
  • It could generate some attention. We know that a huge amount of the traction Appetise has built up was thanks to the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ surrounding the company. 4 years after launching the company, we still explain how Appetise started off in Warwick during interviews.
  • It helps me take a step back and analyse what we are doing and how we are doing it.

 

I’ll repost links here to all the posts I write. The two existing posts are:

 

If there are any Appetise related topics you’d like learn about, just let me know in the comments !

Triggering a rebranding

A start-up’s branding is very complex. Your company is so new, you may not even know what it really does. You may also not know who your customers will be. It is however a key success factor. And it all starts with the name.

 

Think of a bad name as wall on your path and a great name as a clear road. A great name isn’t the key to success, but it will most definitely help. It may be hard to accept, but your current name may not be optimal. E-resistible wasn’t. But it took us a few years to accept that fact. If you are in this situation, a re-naming may facilitate the growth your are working so hard to achieve.

We went through this with Appetise and learnt a great deal. Here are some things I learnt in the process.

You’ll need a strong trigger :

Appetise used to be called “E-resistible”. We kept that name for over two years. It became a relatively strong brand. We had two communities which were exposed to it: 40,000 users at the time and a network of restaurants throughout the UK. Appetise is also in a very competitive market. Both communities would be confused by a name change: many would see us a new player in the cluttered market. So, how did we decide to change?

This happened in two steps. The first was our launch in France. When you open for business in a new country, everything is put into perspective. You start comparing. We opened up to a new culture, a new market and new competition. But we remained the same company. This got me thinking. I didn’t want to use E-resistible as we had already struggled with it so we launched with “FoodLivraison” (which translates to FoodDelivery). But I quickly realised this made no sense as it was still the same company. It was a clear indication something was wrong with E-resistible. But we still needed something to push us.

A few months later, the second step triggered the change. We got two new members on our board. We were all in the same team and for the first time, it wasn’t someone from the outside suggesting the name was wrong. These guys were on the inside, they helped us realise our mistake. And more importantly, they also actually contributed in the brainstorm. This was key as it motivated us to find something new, as a team.

Talent is necessary :

I created Appetise with two friends: Steve and Velin. Unfortunately, we had no “naming experience”. It’s important to know what you are bad at, we didn’t know. When “E-resistible” was suggested, we loved it and trusted our “gut feeling”. That was my first mistake. If you are not great at naming, admit it. Certain people have that talent, it’s almost natural. Find these people and ask for help. If they need some money, spend it. It’s a no-brainer investment.

“Why” comes first :

A huge number of factors come into account the naming process. You get lost in the name suggestions, comparing to competition, checking the domain availabilities and the “cool” attributes (a short name, .ly endings such as visual.ly, names with no vowels such as flickr etc…).

But only one factor should stick: your company’s vision. You can find more information about it on Simon Sinek’s TED talk. Why you come to work each day. Start by defining the Why, before thinking about the name. We hadn’t used this approach for E-resistible. The Why will then dictate your company name. Our Why gave Appetise, and it changes everything.

Have you struggled with a name change? Or just finding a name? Which tools did you use? I’d love to hear from you !

[Post edit: Following a good comment from my friend Alex, I’ve adjusted the title of the post. When I started writing, I had a different plan. The old title was “Naming a start-up”, which leads to think it is about the method. I’ll soon write a post on that topic.]

Photo credit: Logo Designer Blog

Appetise on the radio

In an attempt to get back into blogging, I’ve decided to start off easily and recall an experience I had a couple of months ago.

Appetise was invited to the Jeremy Vine show on BBC. This opportunity came through our old university (Warwick Business School) which had been contacted by the BBC. They were looking for web-entrepreneurs and luckily enough, Warwick thought of us! This was a key opportunity, the Jeremy Vine show has an audience of over 2 million.

Getting this sort of exposure for a start-up can be extremely time consuming. We just got lucky. But it has made me wonder whether it is worth the effort. How much can you gain from this exposure? And if you do succeed in getting it, how can you maximise the effect it will have? I’ll try to answer these questions with the insight from our experience.

This was a last minute opportunity for us, they called us the day before the show. My co-founder Steve Barnes was rushed off to the Gloucester BBC offices, with very little time to prepare. Our aim was to get maximum exposure for Appetise. So before he left the office, we got on a skype call (I’m in Paris, he’s in Cheltenham). With no experience of radio exposure, we tried to guess how to work things right. It couldn’t just be a case of mentioning “Appetise.com” as many times as possible (although Steve managed to do that quite a lot!). Here are the key takeaways we got out of the experience.

Maximising the exposure

Audience Focus

The audience on the radio pays a lot more attention than on TV. It’s simply because the images on TV actually distract you from the content that is being shared. The video element is so appealing that you can’t concentrate. The highest levels of audience focus are in fact achieved with written content. So when you are on the radio, people are really listening to what you are saying. Choose you words wisely…

Defined Demographic

It is very easy to find out which type of people are listening to a particular radio show. It depends on the time, radio channel and it’s content. Start by analysing the subject of past shows and adapt your story to fit the style. You can ask the person managing the show before entering the studio, but it’s easier if you know in advance. There is one key reason for doing this. If your pitch isn’t adapted to the audience, your interview is not going to last very long…

Content is Key

What you are going to say is matter. If the show is live, that’s even more important. Why? People are listening and the BBC wants to keep them that way. If the audience likes you, you’ll be able to stay on. If it’s not the case, the interview won’t last. It’s all about what real added value you can bring to the show.

The Effects

It was Appetise’s first radio exposure. We were excited!

Thanks to Google Real Time Analytics, we had a tool to view the effect it was having. Steve was live at a time when there is little traffic on Appetise (we only start taking orders at 5pm, although people can order in advance). Below is the screencast for you to see the effect of saying “Appetise.com” to a couple million people.

Disclaimer: this post was inspired by a post written by my co-founder Steve Barnes.

A new name for a new start

Things have changed a lot in the E-resistible world. We are now open in France. We have grown the team a little. Now we are more of a company and less of a student start-up, we are hoping to move things at a faster pace. Although the everyday work is definitely still start-upy…

One thing which always bothered us with the move in France was the name of the site. We’ve always been huge fans of the name E-resistible, but most of our outside counsel was telling us it was crap. About 2 months after we started at Warwick, we were facing the decision: do we change now, or keep it forever? We decided to stick with it, and I never regretted that decision. In fact, we had nothing better and it is pretty cool.

But with the move to France, there we two things to take into consideration

  1. Should we take this chance of having a different name which could make our lives easier
  2. As we’re launching in a competitive market, should we use the name to have an advantage in SEO?

Question 1 was totally arbitrary. Question 2 was a major concern for me. So we decided that the name chosen would need to be something with “delivery” or “livraison”. We liked the UK/Anglo-saxon heritage of the site, so we chose to use FoodLivraison.

It worked out well for us. Our rankings are solid relative to the age of our site and it is different to competitors.

However, we have very high ambitions for our company. I think that with a focus on the quality of our restaurants and the user experience of our site, we will be able to make the difference in an industry that is growing but not innovating.

But with strong ambition, you need to have a strong name. We need to build a brand. This brand needs to be international, so all sites need the same name. We need to mark the end of an era and the start of something truly new, we need a new name.

So that’s what we’ve done, after a month of searching, we found it. It’s hidden underneath our logo, click on the image to go check it out!

 

New name

We’re back!

I haven’t been posting in a while as E-resistible’s implementation in France took a bad turn a couple of months ago. I decided not to post until things were completely clear and the company was up and running.

And it finally is! We launched the company in France about a month ago, you can read E-resistible’s press release here.

Here’s a screenshot of FoodLivraison, compared with E-resistible!

 

E-resistible

 

FoodLivraison

A lot of things have changed, for the best.

We’ve got some really exciting news scheduled to be released in the first half of January. One of my NY’s resolutions will definitely be to start tracking progress here again, so stay tuned!

Comment créer la structure juridique d’une entreprise (SAS) en France

EDIT: 29th Dec – added information on “apports en nature” and updated strategy to bring on investors despite complications of entrepreneurs needing to bring pro-rata cash.

J’ai perdu beaucoup de temps à essayer de comprendre comment monter une entreprise en France. Malgré les efforts du gouvernement pour la simplification de ce processus, il n’existe aucune ressource parfaite et le sites sont très mal conçus. Maintenant que FoodLivraison existe, j’ai toutes les démarches en tête et souhaite maintenant les partager.

Ce sont les démarches pour la création d’une SAS, Société à Actions Simplifiées, le type de structure que la plupart des jeunes entreprises devrait adopter. C’est la plus simple, flexible et moins chère. Les démarches administratives sont beaucoup moins lourdes. Avec une SAS, vous pouvez faire à peu près ce que vous voulez par la suite (augmentation de capital, vente/cession de parts) sans devoir tout déclarer systématiquement.

Un autre point, il s’agit ici d’une SAS à capital variable. Cela signifie que vous êtes libres de faire des augmentations/réductions de capital, entre deux seuils que vous définissez dans les statuts. C’est très utile car ça permet de commencer petit, puis d’injecter plus de capital. Mais le processus pour une SAS normale est identique.

Voici les étapes:

1. Ecrire les statuts:

Bien sûr, l’idéal est de faire appel à un avocat pour la rédaction des statuts, mais ce n’est pas toujours possible. La meilleure technique est de prendre les statuts d’une autre entreprise similaire et d’adapter le contenu. Il existe aussi des modèles en ligne. Mais les statuts de toutes les entreprises existantes sont publiques, il suffit d’aller au greffe (pour Paris, c’est au tribunal de commerce, quai de corse) et de demander une copie.

Il faut en faire 6 copies. Faire attention de mettre la date la plus près du dépôt de tout ce dossier au greffe (voir fin des étapes), car il faut que les statuts soient signés dans le mois de la création de l’entreprise. Il faut parapher chaque page et faire signer tous les actionnaires.

2. Faire la liste des souscripteurs:

Un point un peu compliqué dans la création et qu’il n’est pas possible en France pour les fondateurs de faire des apports en industrie pour leurs actions. C’est à dire que le deal avec un investisseur où vous pouvez lui accorder 20% pour 100k€ et vous 80% en tant qu’entrepreneur n’est pas possible, il faut que chaque actionnaire apporte le cash au prorata. Donc pour avoir les 100k dans les comptes, il faut 20k de lui et 80k de vous. Il existe deux solutions:

  • L’investisseur vous prête l’argent directement: un transfert préalable dans votre compte personnel est donc nécessaire. Le problème est que la dynamique d’investissement change complètement: votre investisseur devient un prêteur. Autre conséquence, la valorisation change complètement, elle est maintenant de 100k€ plutôt que 500k€. De plus, vous prenez une part du risque que l’investisseur prenait à l’origine, car en cas de faillite, vous êtes redevables à l’investisseur pour les 80k€.
  • Créer une petite structure tout seul, puis faire une augmentation de capital: Vous montez une SAS avec un petit capital, par exemple 1000 € avec 100% des actions. Puis de faire une augmentation de capital quelques mois plus tard, en faisant une Assemblée Générale Extraordinaire avec une augmentation de la valeur des actions pour arriver aux 80/20.
L’on peut aussi faire des apports en nature (Propriété Intellectuelle, ordinateurs, meubles etc…). Cependant, c’est compliqué et ça prend plus de temps (ajouter 30 jours). Pour faire cela, il faut faire appel à un commissaire aux apports. Il faut aller au Tribunal du Commerce avec un formulaire pour demander accès à un commissaire. Puis, il faut présenter le dossier et recevoir un certificat. Un peu complèxe et ne faire que s’il y a de la réelle valeur à apporter.

Il faut donc faire une liste, c’est simplement un doc word, en 4 copies, avec:

LISTE DES SOUSCRIPTEURS D’ACTIONS

Monsieur …, né le …, à …, demeurant …, de nationalité …, représentant de la Société … SAS actuellement en voie de formation dont le siège social se situe au …, déclare que la somme de …€ représente le montant des apports en numéraire de la Société par Actions Simplifiées, ainsi qu’il a été versé par l’ensemble des actionnaires.

Liste des Actionnaires Nombre d’Actions Somme Versée
Nom 8000
Nom 2000

Total :

..

En conséquence, conformément aux dispositions légales en vigueur, la somme ci-dessous demeurera bloquée en compte social :

… Euros

La présente liste et le présent état sont certifiés par …, Président de la Société

A …, le … :

3. Déposer le capital à la Banque

Il faut contacter une banque et avoir un rendez-vous avec un conseiller. Expliquer le projet, s’arranger sur les termes (négocier pour avoir plusieurs mois gratuits etc…). Puis, vous irez signer la convention avec eux et déposer les chèques (un de chaque actionnaire représentant le montant de sa somme qu’il doit verser). Ils prendront une copie des statuts. Ils doivent vous remettre, une fois que les chèques sont passés, 2 originaux de l’attestation de dépôt des fonds. Demandez en plusieurs copies, ça sert toujours.

4. Parution légale

Une énorme arnaque mais obligatoire. J’ai longtemps cherché, la moins chère est chez Le Parisien

Réduisez au maximum les caractères. Payer en ligne et l’attestation est envoyée par email.

5. Local commercial

Il vous faut un justificatif pour votre siège, souvent un bail, un acte de location ou mieux, un contrat de domiciliation.

6. Copies des cartes d’identité

Demandez 3 copies pour chaque actionnaire, signées, et gardez les, c’est toujours utile.

7. Déclaration de non-condamnation

A remplir par le Président:

DECLARATION DE NON CONDAMNATION

Je soussigné…, deumeurant…, né le…, à…, fils de … et de …, déclare sur l’honneur, conformément à l’article 17 de l’arrêté du 9 février 1988 relatif au Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés, n’avoir fait l’objet d’aucune condamnation pénale, ni de sanction civile ou administrative de nature à m’interdire de gérer, d’administrer ou de diriger une personne morale, ou d’exercer une activité commerciale.

Fait à:… le…

Signature

Article 2 de l’ordonnance n° 58-1352 du 27décembre 1958, réprimant certaines infractions en matière de Registre du Commerce (Journal Officiel du 29 décembre 1958)

Article L.123-5 du code de commerce

Le fait de donner, de mauvaise foi, des indications inexactes ou incomplètes en vue d’une immatriculation, d’une radiation ou d’une mention complémentaire ou rectificative au registre du commerce et des sociétés est puni d’une amende de 4 500 € [30 000 F] et d’un emprisonnement de six mois. Les dispositions des deuxième et troisième alinéas de l’article L. 123-4 sont applicables dans les cas prévus au présent article.

8. Remplir le M0

Il en faut 3 copies, toutes signées. Le formulaire se trouve ici

9. Aller au RCS

Avec tous les documents ci-dessus et aller déposer le dossier. Le RCS à Paris est près de Châtelet, à la CCIP. C’est même le bureau 9 si vous voulez tout savoir! Il faut déposer le dossier, puis ils l’envoient au greffe. Si tout se passe bien, vous recevrez vos K-Bis à l’adresse du siège. S’il y a quelque-chose, vous recevrez une demande d’informations complémentaires et devrez aller au greffe.

10. Aller à la banque

Avec l’extrait de KBis pour débloquer les fonds.

11. Acheter les registres

Il y a quelques registres qui sont obligatoires, c’est un peu les registres de l’activité et des décisions de l’entreprise. Ceux qu’il faut avoir sont le registre des mouvements de titres et le registre des assemblées générales. Celui pour les AG doit être paraphé par le greffe. Il faut donc les commander, ARC Registres propose les meilleurs prix et c’est plus simple, ici. Quand vous les recevez, allez au greffe pour donner les feuilles, qu’ils parapherons et vous enverrons par la poste.

J’ai créé ma structure il y a quelques mois donc je me souviens peut-être pas de tout. Mais je vais essayer de garder ceci à jour. Si vous avez des commentaires, n’hésitez pas à me contacter.

Mike Sellers – Startup Advice

I just read this post on Quora by Mike Sellers.

The question was: As first time entrepreneurs, what part of the process are people often completely blind to?

His answer is great:

An idea is not a design
A design is not a prototype
A prototype is not a program
A program is not a product
A product is not a business
A business is not profits
Profits are not an exit
And an exit is not happiness.

It’s a very interesting illustration of the steps of building and exiting a startup, and reminds us that it isn’t all about the exit. Looking back at what I’ve done, I realise that I’ve somehow managed to do an error at each of the steps. Having a great idea that’s impossible to design, a fantastic product which couldn’t be a business etc… So from now on, I’m going to keep this framework in mind.

Exploring the world of pitching

Having started to explore in depth the world of pitching and sales, I’ve come to realise there are so many fields I know little about when it comes to presentations. I’ve always spent a great deal of time on the preparation, understanding what the audience expects, anticipating questions. But room dynamics and listener categorisation were unknown to me.

For anyone interested in this topic, and because I want to find a place to store these links, check out this post by Mark Suster, an entrepreneur turned VC who’s ability to present complex information simply and clearly is quite outstanding. Somewhere on that site, there’s a video of him talking through a Partner Meeting and his ability to outline the key features is very impressive.