Originally from the United States (Oklahoma), with a background in international relations and experience in geo-positioning technologies, Grant Gudgel (International MBA 2009), Co-founder and Managing Director of Vidcoin, arrived in France in 2004 with a very firm idea in mind: to do an MBA in France with a focus on entrepreneurship. He chose EMLYON.
“Following my International MBA, I worked for two years in a professional training team on international projects at EMLYON”, he explains “from the beginning I had a project in mind: creating a French subsidiary of the Auctus Group, an American company specialising in consultancy and fund-raising for companies in the environment sector (for example, solar projects in South Africa). I was living in France and my two associates were in the United States”.
Auctus Group eventually had to stop trading?
G.G.: Legal issues relating to our partners obliged us to stop our activity. So I then started working as a consultant for French companies, for EMLYON, before joining Jérôme Vuillemot (Specialised Masters in Innovation, 2005), an EMLYON graduate who had created Vidcoin, a start-up launched in January 2013 and based in Lyon. I can't imagine doing anything else than entrepreneurship. I come from a very entrepreneurial family, my brother has followed a similar path and I've always identified with this way of operating. Vidcoin is a system of online and mobile gaming monetisation using advertising videos.
In fact, players don't pay to access games, it's the advertiser who pays?
G.G.: More than 90% of players of online games do not pay. How can money be generated without having a negative impact on their gaming experience? Our solution is to offer them the option of acquiring virtual rewards by watching sponsored videos. Vidcoin gives them the option of watching an advert of less than 45 seconds. In exchange, they get a reward which allows them to make faster progress in the game. The economic model is basic: the editor earns money according to numbers of viewings of the sponsored videos. The gaming experience is never interrupted. We show the videos in 25 countries, that's the beauty of games - there are no language barriers or cultural differences - the audience is global, so it's a very strong media.
What role did EMLYON play in this adventure?
G.G.: EMLYON strengthened my desire to get involved in this kind of project, especially since we were both EMLYON graduates. It helped me to better analyse the opportunities and I was encouraged to work on larger-scale projects. At the start of my International MBA, I was thinking about a small SME project, and little by little I gained confidence and found myself in a much better position to talk to investors, to use and understand their vocabulary and dare to imagine bigger projects.
Today, it's true that I could find a comfortable, better-paid position in a bank or more stable organisation. I have succeeded and failed in multiple occasions - in human terms it's not always an easy lifestyle choice. But I would nonetheless advise young people to start their own business. The challenges that we have to face oblige us to overcome our fears, take risks, and all that gives us experience. We learn a lot about ourselves and life is more exciting!