In November 2020, Wizbii was selected by the French government under its 6.5 billion euro recovery plan for young jobseekers. The digital platform 1jeune1solution.gouv.fr is a key milestone in the success of the company, which is a graduate of the Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) incubator, founded in 2010.
Interview with Romain Gentil, the co-founder of Wizbii, Benjamin Ducousso and Emeric Wasson, all graduates of GEM.
1jeune1solution.gouv.fr, the digital interface developed and operated by Wizbii and selected by the government, implements tangible measures in local areas, as well as through online services. Its aim is to help young adults find jobs, training programs, internships or public service opportunities, and to help employers with recruitment.
What was your original business model when Wizbii was created in 2010?
The context at the time needs to be taken into account. In 2010, Wizbii's business expertise was based on a digital service offering geared towards young adults between the ages of 18 and 30, with a focus on employment, to offer them a wide range of career opportunities. Our goal was to make supply meet demand by monetizing through businesses. The model then expanded through the addition of services related to funding education, health insurance and mobility.
Since then, Wizbii's economic model has changed considerably. It was previously based on businesses' brands as employers, through initiatives that would make businesses more visible to potential employees, through recruiment operations, events and communication campaigns, all over France.
Today, it also includes the development and deployment of platforms so that its business partners can optimize their communications and win the loyalty of their young customer bases. Wizbii's partners include companies such as Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, BNP, and many others.
Wizbii also operates - to an increasing extent - on a BtoC model, with the creation of a funding search engine and a highway code (written portion of the driver's license exam) assistance platform, among other things. These two services were used by over 2 million young adults in 2020.
What was IncubaGem's primary contribution?
All three of us are graduates of GEM, where we learned how to learn. First and foremost, IncubaGem is a story about people. In September 2009, Jean-Claude Lemoine was recruited for the launch of the GEM incubator and the creation of the Institut de l'Entrepreneuriat. We appreciated his guidance as a business executive and the experiences he shared with us on the business model. We also appreciated the expertise of Nathalie Martino, who is now the director of the Entreprendre Isère network.
Wizbii was the first startup incubated at GEM, and the actual business itself launched in late 2010. IncubaGem provided us with a physical space, a place where we could meet with clients and partners... And a workspace shared with other entrepreneurs, whom we could emulate and whose expertise we could draw on. Our close contact with the students of the Masters in Entrepreneurship also encouraged the sharing of practical knowledge.
When we left IncubaGem, 18 to 24 months later, Wizbii became an ambassador for the school at a time when most graduates were opting for careers at large companies rather than starting their own businesses.
Wizbii, which has around one hundred employees in France, has just reached an important milestone by winning the 1jeune1solution nationwide contract (+30% growth in 2020), with around 40 new recruits expected in 2021. What are the strategic steps that need to be taken for this change in scale?
The health crisis has resulted in an economic crisis that significantly affects young adults. This context touches on two of Wizbii's principles. Firstly, the "young adults" we have chosen to focus on will require even more assistance. This underlines the relevance of our model. Secondly, winning the national contract for 1jeune1solution.gouv.fr serves as recognition of our actions over the last 10 years. The platform represents a continuation of our model, which places employment at center stage. This milestone will require us to recruit more people to our workforce. We already planned on recruiting 30 more people in 2021, and we are now expecting around forty new employees, in Grenoble, Paris and Pau.
Our next steps will require a clear, structured, long-term vision of our model, particularly in light of the change of scale. Our current challenge is to build an SME that can recruit motivated talent capable of facing upcoming challenges, particularly in the digital services sector, and build a strong brand reputation through the quality of our services. To this end, the rate at which our services are recommended is the first indicator we monitor. The other determining factor is having the appropriate resources to fund our growth. To date, Wizbii has raised around €16M since it was founded.
What model should Wizbii move towards in the coming years?
Wizbii's future depends on harnessing BtoB/BtoC. We want to consolidate our ability to provide young adults with services at a reduced cost or entirely free - which requires funding from businesses. We are staying the course by adding new services with a unique model. The focus will be on search engines for financial assistance, to help the younger generations fund their studies, thereby doing our part to fight student poverty.
GEM. The best entrepreneurial school of the year
Grenoble Ecole de Management is the best entrepreneurial school of the year, according to the Concours Petit Poucet of the Baromètre de l'entrepreneuriat étudiant (Student Entrepreneurship Indicator).
Each year, Petit Poucet organizes a startup competition that awards the best entrepreneurial initiatives led by students and young graduates of French universities and Grandes Ecoles.
Based on the number of projects submitted, weighted according to their results, Grenoble Ecole de Management won first place, becoming the Best Entrepreneurial School of the Year, with 14 participants, three finalists and two winners:
- Lisa Schino, a student at GEM, won the "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" award for her initiative, Lao, a 100% natural, traceable French haircare brand with returnable aluminum packaging.
- Maxime Boniface and Hamidreza Sailani, students at GEM and UGA, won the Social and Community award for their Champiloop project.