Alessandro was still a student when he decided to enroll in Le Wagon Brussels' Web development course. During the Bootcamp, he developed an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of a Fintech app that would become his real startup project. We met him to know more about his experience at Le Wagon Brussels and his entrepreneurial journey at Recovr.
What were you doing before you joined Le Wagon?
I started Le Wagon when I was still finishing my Master's degree at Solvay Business School. I was already working on Recovr, but I absolutely needed a prototype in order to further validate the idea. You can do the most extensive market research you want to, but at the end of the day nothing represents a stronger validation than a potential client saying “Ok perfect, where should I sign?”
Before launching Recovr, I’ve done internships at KPMG where I learned what were the day-to-day problems of SMEs as well as internships in tech startups where I’ve learned how to build a product that people love.
What is Recovr?
Our job is to help SMEs stop worrying about unpaid invoices. Late and unpaid invoices are the main cause of ⅓ of the bankruptcies in Europe. With Recovr we relieve this burden from companies by automating the whole credit management process, from automatic payment matching, down to the legal procedures with lawyers. Our client is paid faster, with fewer efforts and they can, therefore, focus on their core business.
What were your challenges and what are you up to now?
Our first challenge was to go from a prototype to a real product. Once you have your MVP, you have to make sure that it is really solving the problem you want to solve. We kind of co-created the product with our first users, they gave us a lot of feedback. Actually, you can whiteboard and theorize as much as you want but the only way to make your product relevant is to have it battle-tested in the market. Now that we have a product that brings a lot of value to our users and that they love to use, our current challenge is to create a sales and marketing team and execute our go-to-market strategy.
Why did you want to learn to code?
My goal was to better understand how an application like Recovr could be architectured. I knew I wouldn’t become CTO, but I wanted to be at least able to understand the implications of the technical choices we made. I also wanted to know more about how a development team is structured and what working methodologies were used.
Actually, I built my first website at the age of 9 (it was meant to be the bible of Dragon Ball Z, unfortunately, it didn’t make it that far) so I wasn’t completely new to the world of code.I’ve learned more about OOP (Object-Oriented Programming) at Solvay, but in order to build a prototype of Recovr, I needed much more knowledge. Furthermore, I didn’t want to launch a Fintech company without knowing the ins-and-outs of how my product is made. A good friend of mine did Le Wagon and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, so I jumped in!
What was the most fun you had during those 9 weeks?
I really liked the fact that you had a certain amount of challenges to accomplish within the day, we had this friendly competition of who will finish first (or finish at all, some days!). The beer that came after a long day of coding was also priceless. Last but not least, the ping-pong competition was very disputed, we had some intense matches!
What advice do you have for those who want to launch their startup after the training?
The number one reason for startup failure is a lack of market. Make your hypotheses, test them, and make sure that you’re tackling a problem that is widespread and/or very painful. Then, do the same in order to assess whether your product will really solve (at least a part of) the problem you're trying to tackle. Finally, make sure that you can do business out of it: are people/companies ready to pay for it? How much? What could be your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)? Test cheap! There are so many startups that could have avoided failure by testing early some of their hypotheses.
What are your tips for getting the most out of Bootcamp?
Firstly, you should do 100% of the prep work, especially if you don’t know much about the different subjects. It seems pretty obvious, but some of the students in my batch didn’t do it and it was hard for them to catch up.
Also, what was very helpful for me was to read the slides before the morning class. In this way, you understand ten times better when the teacher explains them. If you take some advance, you’ll have time to read about more advanced stuff.
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