Sramana: Can you talk, Christophe, about what has been your strategy in terms of building the team? You started with four co-founders and sounds like Julien came on board about a year later. Who else is on the team now, how big is the team and what has been your philosophy in building the team out?
Christophe: We have no choice but making the right choice the first time. We have a hiring process that is very precise and very strict, because we cannot make a mistake. For example, very early on we recognized that scalability will be critical for the business. What we did early on was hire Guillaume Plessis as a consultant to help us in scaling our infrastructure on AWS. He worked for us as a consultant for one year and knowing that he was really good, we asked him to join TextMe, a year later in early 2013, to become VP Infrastructure.
We identify people and make sure that they fit well with the team in terms of skills and professional capabilities, as well as spirit. Today we have 12 people.
Sramana: You have talked about six of them, what are the other six doing? Are they all in engineering then?
Christophe: Of the 12 people, six are in the engineering team, with two people doing customer support for IT management. We have one designer and one person in the finance department.
Sramana: That’s fantastic. This is exactly the way, at least in our program, that we are pushing for. Very lean, capital-efficient, bootstrapped startup mode. We don’t do all the speculative stuff where you go out and raise $50 million, $60 million, $80 million and try to play the Snapchat game. That’s just not how we operate.
Christophe: Yes. That’s what we do.
Sramana: Awesome, excellent. Where do you want to go from here? You have $10 million in revenue, 20 million users. You obviously know how to acquire users and monetize users, which is all great.
Christophe: Yes, we have come a long way in building this company. We expect to grow may be five times or 10 times in the next few years and make a very substantial business out of it. Of course we are in Silicon Valley, and if someone offers us a strategic partnership or an acquisition, we will consider.
Sramana: Okay, so as far as the exit options are concerned you will operate pretty much in the standard Silicon Valley mode.
Christophe: Yes, I think so. At the same time, as it’s very sustainable, it’s definitely far from this Snapchat model.
Sramana: Yes, absolutely. That’s why I did the story. The Snapchat model – I can’t do a story on. It’s impossible to learn from the Snapchat model because it’s like seeing a lottery. You can play that lottery may be, but you can’t learn anything from that.
Julien: I just want to make one comment on the way we have built the company. In many ways, we don’t play by the same rules as many of our competitors. We chose not to get any external money and now it would be quite easy for us to get some money. But still, we are not going to and we purposely don’t want to. We built monetization from the beginning. We never thought that growth and monetization were going against each other.
Sramana: You definitely have a great business here. Excellent! Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoyed it very much. Congratulations. Wish you all the best.