I read a lot of books and the more I read, the more I realize that I need to read more.
Nicolas Fayon (a graduate from EDHEC Business School) is a young 32 year old Parisian entrepreneur. Starting off as Marketing Manager in a big data and musical startup, he then created his first company, PageYourself, which transformed into Heek at the beginning of 2016.
Heek is the first website-maker built around a chatbot integrated with artificial intelligence. With 1.2 million euros funding, Heek’s mission is to assist small and medium businesses to create, maintain and update their website in exactly the way they imagined it. By just responding to a few questions in a few minutes, a small business owner can see their website come to life.
Where did the idea for Heek come from?
We’ve encountered hundreds of small and medium business owners whilst walking down the roads of Paris and through numerous phone calls around the world. Whilst conversing with them, we discovered that 80% of the time, they had a similar problem: how to juggle with managing their own business and have an online presence on multiple platforms. It was clear that they didn’t have time to take care of their online presence, nor the budget to ask for an agency or a freelance’s help to manage this part. It then dawned on us that it would be great to work on an interface that would have the same level service as an agency and at competitive pricing. And so Heek was born, thanks to artificial intelligence that we incorporate to our product.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Mornings are really important for me as they hardly change from day to day, allowing me to set the intention to be productive. A typical day for me, thus, starts out by a sports session from 7 to 8 AM. I then have a great breakfast, which I take whilst reading books on topics that I feel are great for me to improve on. I then take out my to-do list and allocate maximum timings to be spent on each priority task which I put in my agenda. At night, I do a mini overview of what I did during the day and report missions I haven’t really completed for the next day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is a really hard question to answer as the creation process usually has a subconscious and a conscious part to it. As a matter of fact, the visible part isn’t always important,. For me, as I am quite a visual person, I need to put all my ideas down, whether that’s on a piece of paper, on a document or in a spreadsheet. From then on, because I’ll be able to see ‘the visual picture’, I will be able to bring about the first layer of improvement to the idea and so forth. When I am quite happy with the idea, but know that we can do better, I leave it aside for 24 hours and then re-evaluate the idea critically until it becomes satisfying. In the past, I searched for perfection, but realized that perfection depends on the context, is difficult to reach and is not really useful when taking into account the time and energy spent on it.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m really excited about the quality automation trend. Not the binary automation, but automations that take into account millions of variables that aren’t possible with artificial intelligence today and which can help improve the daily lives of many people.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I would say that what makes me more productive as an entrepreneur is the fact that I manage my time in a strict manner, especially in regards to tasks and meetings. I allocate specific timings in advance for my tasks that I need to accomplish and if they are not finished, I stop and continue on the following day. For meetings, I work in the same way which allows one to stay concentrated, not lose time and go on about subjects that don’t matter. That said, this really exasperates my family and close friends.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
If I met my younger self, I would tell him to enjoy the journey because 99% of it will be dedicated to your job. Reaching your final goal counts only for 1% and will constantly change which can become quite impossible to reach.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
That’s tricky! I guess I’ll have to talk about something completely different, such as real estate. I would advise people not to buy an apartment that they would love to live in, because it’ll be an investment based on emotional factors. This often leads to a bad investment. Of course, this is not a very popular opinion.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else to do?
I read a lot of books and the more I read, the more I realize that I need to read more. Reading very good books is like attending top universities with the best teachers. It can really change the way you view things.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
A strategy that has helped grow our company is consistency. We do our very best so that all our plans and activities are consistent, whether that is within the designs, the product, the pricing, the support or the commercial strategy behind them. Being consistent allows us to have a directional guideline to help us in our decision making and to be understandable by our audience, partners and investors.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The previous project we were working on did not work; we realized that it was not going to work the way we wanted it to just after we had raised a significant amount of funds as a seed round. We managed to turn this around without losing time, with an excellent and highly motivated team. I think that what is important with failures, is to find the right balance between being resilient and acknowledging when something is failing. When that time comes, failure becomes a part of the past and you have 60 more years to succeed!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I thought about something the other day when I discovered the new giroptic iO 360° camera that you can plug onto your phone. I would have liked to visit apartments with Facebook Live using that camera at a specific time of the day and then sending my application directly online. It’s not exactly a very innovative service, but the combination of the most recent products make it an innovative commercial use (for a few weeks or months).
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Ok, it’s been a little while ago, but the best way I spent $100 were on cool plants for our office. It really helps improve our days, purifies the air and gives the office a nice and cozy environment.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Google Agenda is the best productivity tool for me. I have a list of to-do’s for the entire day, I can also time in meetings and allocate times to different tasks.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” is finding a really great book for entrepreneurs. However, I would recommend Ben Horowitz; his books talk about things that are concrete and can inspire you at different stages of your company’s journey.
What is your favorite quote?
There are many inspirational quotes that I find interesting, but the one that I find great and perfect for this moment is this one: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. I find it so true. There are many people who want a different job, life or something else but do nothing to change it, and suddenly realize that everything they wanted is suddenly in the past.
- I read a lot of books and the more I read, the more I realize that I need to read more.
- A strategy that has helped grow our company is consistency.
Nicloas Fayon on LinkedIn:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.