#27 Sebastien Gaudin – Leaving corporate and giving a voice to the people
Originally from France, Sebastien and his wife have been in China for 4 years and have a 9-month-old baby girl. He has a background in pharmacy and business and worked in a leading pharmaceutical company for 12 years in corporate business development and marketing in various markets, including the US, France, Mexico and China. Sebastien has since left the corporate world and is the founder and CEO of The CareVoice. The CareVoice is a bit like Yelp for health care, so it’s a review-based platform to review medical services and treatments in China.
Being a ‘laowai’ in China pushes your curiosity beyond the usual, and you can find opportunities in the gaps.
How he got to China
After meeting his French wife on an assignment in Mexico, they repatriated to France together and an expat assignment came up with Sanofi in China. China was fortunately on their list of places they’d like to live and so it was a perfect fit.
His current project
While he was still with Sanofi, Sebastien happened to be in a meeting designed to help the team ‘think out of the box’ by creatively brainstorming ideas. His past pharmaceutical experience, especially working with all the various stakeholders across the industry really set him up for success when conceptualizing and launching The CareVoice.
Moving from corporate to start-up
For Sebastien, there were three things that helped him transition out of his corporate expat assignment to follow his dream of launching The CareVoice:
- He had a trigger – he believed wholeheartedly in the value that The CareVoice would bring to the community.
- He had the right background – Sebastien didn’t jump two feet in to an industry he didn’t know. Instead, all of his experience seemed to be leading him into this new project.
- He was prepared – from performing an in-depth competitive analysis to fully understanding the start-up capital required and how to monetize his idea, Sebastien had done his research before diving in.
Getting the right people early on. The sooner you get complementary people to you, you can accelerate your readiness.
Lessons learned along the way
- Before you leave a company, make sure you maintain a relationship with your managers.
- Organize your time well! Make sacrifices to dedicate your time to the business.
- Your network will be crucial to your success.
- Ship your product as simply and quickly as possible. Learn from those demos and move on.
- Manage your cash! Don’t spend at all until you’re sure you’ve reached a product market fit.
- Ensure that the funds you get will last you one year.
- Consider building a board of advisers as you start up.
Tips for staying motivated
In the middle of the insanity of a launch, Sebastien focuses on two things to keep him motivated: 1) the plethora of opportunities ahead and 2) diligently serving those who have believed in him and The CareVoice so far – investors, clients, partners, user community etc. They are “a strong motivation to succeed,” he says.
What’s next for The CareVoice
Sebastien has three key upcoming milestones to hit: 1) secure cooperation with insurance companies, 2) launch version 2 version of the product, 3) secure the next round of fundraising.
- The CareVoice
- Anken – co-working space for small businesses/start-ups
- People Squared – multi-site co-working space dedicated to internet start-ups
- Entrepnr Meetup