china business podcast saas

Podcast transcript #3: How to build and run a SaaS product in China

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Find here the full transcript of China paradigm episode 3. Learn more about Thomas Morisset’s story in China and find all the details and additional links below.

Matthieu David: Hi everyone, I’m welcoming Thomas Morisset, actually a longtime friend of mine, as well same as Thomas Graziani (from the China paradigm episode #1 interview). Thomas used to work at a very large alcohol firm called Canovaca. Five or six years ago are how I came to know him because we had one friend in common and he ultimately started his own Saas business Made for Goods. So, I’d like to know more about what he’s doing because his numbers are pretty impressive. In his presentations, he’s talking about 1 billion transactions a year, and I have to confess that I had a hard time doing this. Step by step the more I talked to him the more I understand what he’s doing, and I hope that we can understand a bit more as well how to run a Saas company in China, a SaaS product in China. Welcome to us.

Thomas Morisset: Hi, how are you?

Matthieu David: Good and thanks for being here. Good. What is “Made for Goods”?

Thomas Morisset: Made for Goods is a SaaS company in China. We’ve been around for a little bit over two years now and based in Shanghai. We offer to our clients who are large package goods companies in China a software to have them interface their smaller customers. So, some of our clients are a yeast company which we use software to interface with small baker’s in China.

Or Saint Gobain, a company which uses our software to interface with factories which use their products or Unilever with the software to interface small independent beauty stores and small wholesalers. The reason we need this kind of digital solution is that typically in China they don’t sell to these guys directly. They sell through two million wholesalers who are still running a business in China today.

And they don’t have a direct connection to them. So, with our solution, which is a Saas product, they can start to have members joining their BTB programs and give them incentives like scanning QR Codes on packaging and showing them new product introduction or new promotion which are good. This is little by little making the relationship more direct and eventually configured.

Matthieu David: Okay so I think that’s a lot to understand from this because I’m not sure I understand all the process. You are providing software, an app which is helping those people who buy a product from those companies you talked about Saint Gobain; you talked about Unilever, to scan the product they buy so that Unilever knows that he went to this shop. Is it correct?

Thomas Morisset: Yes, exactly. So, for example for Lesaffre, there are maybe 1 million restaurants, bakeries who bake in China and who used yeast products. When you bake, and you want the mix to rise.

Matthieu David: The thing some people may listen to us and not watch the video. So basically when you’re baking right, you need a product to make it bigger.

Thomas Morisset: Yes for the whole product to become bread. So, Lesaffre is the world leading company for yeast, and it has very big player in China as well, and they sell their yeast through wholesalers. So, a baker like somebody who sells cakes in China he would scan the products and he will register via Wechat to the membership program of the brand.

We use for that technology which is called “Mini Program Wechat” which is something between a website and an app. It’s as easy to open the customers as much time that it’s stable and smooth to use as an app going forward. Via this program, we can accumulate points or coupons or rewards and for the products that they are purchasing still through the wholesalers. They can exchange them for free goods or other benefits from the brands. This is how the brand progressively changes from promoting new product launches or seasonal promotion which they used to through the wholesalers so indirectly not directly with the bakers.

Matthieu David: I see. So who is getting the incentive? Is it the businesses or people? I’m not sure.

Thomas Morisset: This is a very good question. So, it can both. There are multiple roles, and there’s the business manager or the business owner and other business employees. So, for a bakery it’s not a big difference because most of them are independent. So, the owner or the manager is the cook is the same person. But for larger companies like restaurants, we have multiple waiters for wine. You may have both incentivized.

Matthieu David: Okay both are incentivized to scan, and they get rewards in terms of gifting or discount in future orders. Is that correct?

Thomas Morisset: Yes. So these rewards go with the existing money. So they get a plan via the wholesalers. This is the Chinese New Year. If you buy one case of wine, you can get 2 free bottles for example. Now we are digitized so instead of all this going through the wholesalers it happens with the brand directly, but without changing too much the transactional and the distribution model in the middle.

Matthieu David: I see. I understand. What’s your objective? Is your objective to understand what the products are becoming, where they are and who is using them? Is it to skip the wholesalers? Is it to actually build a loyalty program? I see different aspects which can be leveraged through your Saas company in China. Which one is the main one? The main reason people come to you?

Thomas Morisset: The long-term objective is to be direct with these guys. It’s to have a direct relationship with them which means that the brand can convince them directly to use the yeasts in the recipes or to use the alcohol in the wine list or the beauty products on their shells by communicating with them directly and influencing directly their orders and the purchase decision via promotional offerings. But you cannot go directly to this. You cannot remove everything else which is today in the market. It’s because there are many people in between and in interest.

So, you need to go step by step. I think the simple beauty of the QR Code is that you can introduce this new relationship without changing anything else and without upsetting too much the other people. You’re just shifting little by little some of the relationship which was indirect to direct. So, some promotions which would go through wholesalers before now they are direct and maybe in the next step you will take orders, and you will transfer these orders to the wholesalers. Then one day you will go direct.

Matthieu David: I see. Does it mean that now the wholesalers are also scanning?

Thomas Morisset: So, they are also programs now because there are multiple layers of the wholesalers in China in many situations. So, they are also customers program for second layer wholesalers because you are trying to skip the first layer eventually. So, in that case, is considered scanning.

Matthieu David: Okay. How does it work exactly? Could you describe the process and a typical example of the best case you like to describe?

Thomas Morisset: Yes. So, for another customer Eternal Asia which is a local China company which distributes alcohol to restaurants and bars in China. So they placed QR codes in restaurants, the staff scan them to get incentives. So, this has replaced all the previous mechanisms they had of reporting by certain people or plastics incentives of wholesalers. So it saves them a lot of money in cheating or inaccuracies or operational fees and to digitize the way they interact with the staff of the restaurants.

Matthieu David: You “save money,” but I’m not sure we understand how they save money. You talked about in your presentation that you made your clients three points of PNL or increased by three points to make a profit. So how do they really save money? I see actually what I understand is that you ask people outside of your Saas company to do a work you should do which is to know what your product is becoming and reward each layer of the chain. Is it what you talked about when you say saving money?

Thomas Morisset: Yes. So I think the big difference between B2B and B2C is that the price is not the same for everybody. If you’re a consumer for everything you know, and you got different prices, but these prices are available to all customers. In B2B the bigger you are if you commit to this brand into your recipe or what you’re using in your restaurant, if you are bigger then you should get a better price because you have more bargain power with the price. So there is a big part of this company’s gross sales which is re-spent on a discount to basically lower the price to some of the bigger customers which are unlocked.

When you don’t sell to these customers directly then you have to trust your wholesalers to take these free days and give it to them appropriately basically. Now the problem is that what the wholesalers are supposed to do is to go to tell these bigger customers, bigger restaurants or bigger restaurants, bars or chefs and convince them to take a big part of that brand into the company. This takes a lot of work. And then they tell the brand ‘okay I have this and that, please give me this rebate so I can give it to them.’ This is a traditional way of doing business.

The problem is that it’s much easier for the wholesaler to lie and save many of these big customers. They get a lot of rebates then they have no price which is lower than the other wholesalers, and they resell it on the internet on the wholesale markets. So, a lot of companies save directly is by removing some of these cheating and inefficiencies because you get more accurate data directly by your customers into the relaying by their wholesalers.

Matthieu David: I see those wholesalers you’re telling us that some of the layers are working with a solution. Are they okay with that?

Thomas Morisset: Of course not. There are two million wholesalers in China, and I think many of them are in traditional businesses. Many of them also are not very sure of what’s their relevance in the future digital e-commerce world because they have no product. The differentiation actually they are just a community of logistics and financial services between brands and concepts. So, they still have some power because they have some relationships with outlets as it relates to authorities. So, they have some level of influence on the economies of the city where they work. You don’t want to accept them because otherwise, they will use their influence to damage your brands.

This is why everything you need to do is step by step. You can’t go too fast. You can go faster than the normal trend of the market in China of eventually they are losing influence, and they will emerge. This is what we are trying to do with all our customers. They need to start today to digitize the relationship with wholesalers. They need to go as quickly as possible without stretching too much and going beyond the parameter of the brand and the resistance of the markets.

Matthieu David: Who is going to do this work of convincing or softening a change to the wholesalers? Are you working with the client on this or you let the clientele into the wholesaler?

Thomas Morisset:  It’s really the job of the brand and to maintain and let these relationships evolve with the distributors and wholesalers. If you look at experience because actually these relationships and these evolutions they are very similar in all the industries we go to. It can be alcohol; it can be shampoo, it can be construction material; it’s always the same thing. It’s very personal, but they are also unaware of future growth. So you have this very complex relationship of keeping them happy, but knowing that they are going to be less and less important in the future of your company.

So we’ve brought them a lot of advice and also its step by step working with us and what you should do better. We also make them talk to each other especially when they’re from different industries and then they’re very happy to share experiences, and they can give each other advice for ones which have been far away in the process and give advice to our other clients.

Matthieu David: For the clients, you have now, they process all the distribution with your Saas product? All of it?

Thomas Morisset: Correct. Of course, when we sell a new client we often sell to the clients who are one of the business units in the municipal ones and one sells arrear. Eventually, we go through all the business units which are distributed directly to us to the wholesalers in the entire sea of the channel.

Matthieu David: Do people actually respect that to actually scan at each layer of the transaction when they receive the products, when they want to more real the product? Do they respect the process for now?

Thomas Morisset: Eventually this is added value that the brand gives as a cook, waiter or a hair stylist. So you can choose not to have this value of course. But again the difference between B2B and B2C you know as a B2C as a consumer you have many promotions every day. You can go to each town or each street. But for me, I don’t do this because I don’t want to be bothered by these things, and how I spend my efforts.

But for them this is work. This is where ten people work eight hours every day; buy every day the same products. So, getting the best deal on this product, it’s a nice thing to have. It’s how you optimize your business in China and because it’s an analyzed process, you have to educate people who are working because you have people who consume every day. You can get all your customers. You can never get all your consumers.

Matthieu David: I see. So you feel that in B2B, discounts and gifting are working better. That’s what you’re saying right? They make more sense for them. It’s more rational. Okay, I understand. Can you give us a sense of the size of your Saas company in China, the number of people, revenues, growth if you can share?

Thomas Morisset: Okay so the team is 27 people in Shanghai. And most of them are working with developing software. The revenues are VARR. Below one million US dollars.

Matthieu David: you pay you VARR monthly.

Thomas Morisset: So the revenues are we have a lot of setup fees and these things which we’re really VARR. VARR has won already by 4 compared to last year.

Matthieu David: Multiplied by 4.

Thomas Morisset: Yes. We expect it will grow by 4 again in 2018. Actually, we already have times two, not guaranteed but which we expect to get organically from existing customers. With each of our customer, we start with pilots which works for growth is the block from acquiring the new customers, but also from going deeper with our existing customers.

Matthieu David: I see. Are you profitable in China or still investing?

Thomas Morisset: No, we’re investing.

Matthieu David: Okay. Where does the money come from? Did you raise money?

Thomas Morisset: Yes we raised a little bit bellow one million USD one year ago. We plan to raise five million next year.

Matthieu David: Okay I see. Yes, I was investigating a little bit on the internet and found out that it’s very difficult very hard to get information about your funding actually. You still have some information about one company which paid you I think in the beginning.

Thomas Morisset: Yes. A few angel investments. This was a safe investment with multiple notes. Before that, when we started 2 years ago, when we entered the Chinese market, we did not receive money, but we received some office space, some developers and some advice from a local IT services company which was actually the first investor.

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Matthieu David: I understand okay. You talked about a core product in your Saas company, and I don’t understand your segmentation. Can you tell us more about this?

Thomas Morisset: Yes. We have a big Backend system which energies unique QR codes, product investor, product information, business logic, clients, authorized areas. Of course all the customer information from the register, the customer info, the history, the transactions and additional things you get from it. There is a big backend system. Then we have a standardized Wechat mini program.

Matthieu David: Backend is one product?

Thomas Morisset: It’s one product.

Matthieu David: Okay I understand. The Mini program is one product okay.

Thomas Morisset: They come together you can’t use one without the other.

Matthieu David: Okay.

Thomas Morisset: So, the link is the real standard interface which we configure for each customer which they offer to their restaurants, bars, etc. We have a new product which is coming out,for our consumers. This is more like an investment for the future, and we are launching it for Christmas similar to what we do with B2B and B2C. We also have a service platform. So we don’t have only software, we also sell services. So we have required data, we use our database in general which our customers can use from us. We also have some services for rewards or customer service, many of the things which you need to actually be to run your B2B platform. So we have a platform of services for that working with partners that our customers can figure their solution.

Matthieu David: When you say the consumer is not the end-consumer, it’s companies right?

Thomas Morisset: Yes.

Matthieu David: Companies okay. So to sum up the four points you talked about to describe your Saas company in China were the Backend which is linked to the Mini app. It’s a system to look at how people interact with the app and how they use it and so on. Okay, you have the Mini app on Wechat.  I go back from the Mini app and Wechat which I think will be very interesting to know why you use this Mini app on Wechat and not an app. You are working on a sub product which is B2C for the end clients if I’m correct.

The platform which is the service platform where you could have a lot of different products for the shop to order even if it’s not the product is usually ordering it would offer direct contact with a brand. Is it correct?

Thomas Morisset: Absolutely. The platform is some services that all clients may use to run their program to their customers. So, for example, there are those where you can order gifts and all these kind of things. So, we have a database of gifts and including the catalog, delivery, and these things. So they just plug into our service platform and then we can use all these gifts for their brand and they pay us.

We also have a database of all tests. So, we can look into a database to give them an idea of what they are versus the market and these sorts of things.

We also have prospective services to go actually, on the feed to push this program and this is you pay as you use it. So we have all these services because at the end of the day the brand cannot run eventually as its own moderator. They cannot offer to their customers, but to do a solution by themselves. So, you need software, I mean we run a Saas company, but you also need a platform to complement the solution. So this is what we offer to them.

Matthieu David: Currently the one million you are doing is mainly with the Mini app and the Backend right the first few?

Thomas Morisset: Correct. There are also visitors you can get from the services we sell.

Matthieu David: Okay if I understand correctly the service platform you could have actually to plug into your service platform people want not your clients, companies which are not your clients. You don’t manage all the distribution and put QR codes on the product, but they could actually plug into your platform.

Thomas Morisset: No we don’t look for that.

Matthieu David: No? Okay, it’s only your client.

Thomas Morisset: Yes only our clients.

Matthieu David: Okay because it could be right if I understand correctly?

Thomas Morisset: I think it could be its just project focuses.

Matthieu David: Okay I understand. I just want to make sure they understand. What about the app? The mini-app on Wechat, I heard a lot of bad things about them that no people were using it, etc and now people are beginning to use it. But it took so much time to get back on.

Thomas Morisset: I think you know the user doesn’t really care about the Mini app. To be honest, there is not such a big difference, and both of them have good feedback. I don’t want to say Wechat or Mini app is better. They are very similar, and they have some small advantages which make them more relevant depending on the business case. For us, the advantages of the Mini App are significant enough that we went for that directly and this year. We change from attack strategy to Mini programs strategy this year. For us these strategies our users are very frequent users of the brand program, daily or weekly at the very least monthly. So, the saving of time on the loading time, on the experience, also not having to regain access, it makes a huge difference.

On the other hand, there is no real inconvenience. You don’t have to load on the mini-program and it opens like Wechat at the beginning. So for us, there’s a very clear decision actually to go from that.

Matthieu David: Okay. So, for people who don’t understand this thing or listen to us from China…

Thomas Morisset: I think for them it’s very difficult understanding that.

Matthieu David: Yes the Mini app is an app you open within the system of Wechat, so you don’t have to go out of Wechat to open it. So it’s easier because Wechat is the main app that the Chinese are using.

You are scanning a lot of QR codes. You know that some developers suggest going on native apps and when you have to interact with the camera of the phone. How is this with the Mini program on Wechat? Is it interaction with what we call I think SDK right? I’m not a developer myself. How does it interact with the phone? Is it seamless? As good as native?

Thomas Morisset: So it is an SDK, and we used the Wechat QR code scanning solution for that and to be honest it’s excellent. I remember 5 years ago when in another life I was working with that and we’re really struggling because they will not open first of all the light of the camera so you could not scan the QR code in Wechat.

All these things were solved a long time ago, and now you have not only an offline function with QR code but also zooming in when you’re a little bit far from it, automatic detection of the lights and overall excellence metric recognition. I don’t think I could do something better than that so not even trying.

Matthieu David: Don’t you feel too dependent on Wechat? Do you price it as a risk for your saas business in China to be dependent with Wechat app?

Thomas Morisset: First it’s a huge benefit to be able to have Wechat and to use it. Without it, the user acquisition for clients would be just too high because they will have to develop something. So I think our Saas business would not exist without Wechat today. For the long-term, I think in theory it’s a risk, but it’s a risk for pretty much every consumer or customer or Saas company in China because we all use it and many other things. I don’t think it’s the philosophy of Wechat to kill solution providers given that platform because I think they realized that to keep the traffic they need to keep people being innovative on the platform.

So, just like you know Wechat created a free extra store or a free Mini program store, a free CRM Mini program. Much free software which I never used a lot actually. They just do this to show the example and communicate to people what you can do with the Wechat. They are actually very happy that there are companies who develop better solutions and sell them to customers.

Matthieu David: Yes. I get that the companies you work with are asking you to work outside of China. I mean to be Indonesia to be Thailand. I think I guess you had this discussion with your clients because if you have a system in the country which is as big as China for a lot of companies, you may want to have the same system elsewhere. Can you answer this question? It’s because then we go back to the question of Wechat.

Thomas Morisset: Yes so we have two of our large customers who have products in other markets, Europe actually not Asia. And of course, the users in these markets don’t use Wechat. So, we have customized H-5 our apps. We don’t choose our seller in Mini program we use these customized interfaces which are plug into our service.

Matthieu David: Okay H-5 it’s a website that people open and uses it through the internet like Safari or Chrome to scan.

Thomas Morisset: It is more and more accessible I think as you know like in the most recent IOS updates you can scan QR codes like here when you take a picture with your camera.

Matthieu David: Yes I found that on the new IOS.

Thomas Morisset: Many similar things exist for Android so actually now the rest of the world where most smartphone users can have a native QR code scanner in their smartphones which is great. That being said there are apps that we see development in other countries are still quite a few years behind what the China affiliate is doing within these groups.

Matthieu David: Interesting.

Thomas Morisset: It is exciting that I think there is a global intuition or intuition of this kind of solutions at the global level. Then China is the first market to deploy these types of solutions and then really being the mother for the other markets. You really have a shift of power or innovation power in these huge multinational companies. With Europe or the US looking at what China is doing which is very interesting.

Matthieu David: Yes you feel China in your field on tracking the products, using QR code the O2O. Actually, I think you used a lot the word O2O, IOT in your organization. Is that correct? You’re on the field of O20, Offline to online marketing in China, right?

Thomas Morisset: Yes. I don’t know if O2O is a word people use outside of China. Offline to online or online to offline this is the idea of something which happens offline for example. So these shops or these restaurants which have an offline relationship with their clients. Then you bring it online via the distribution that is transmitted.

Matthieu David: This was the idea initially right? This was your idea in O2O. I remember the first time we talked about he was focusing on O2O and I feel that from the initial idea we evolved a little bit, but the constant aspect is you are still very much into O2O. How to put what’s happening offline into the cloud, we say online, but it’s the cloud, right?

Thomas Morisset: Exactly. I guess the difference is that we not only take something offline to online, but we also take something that has no relationship or poor relationship to develop a relationship. It’s because the relationship could not be direct offline. The market is too big, too many customers so it can only exist online.

Matthieu David: About the business model. I’m not sure I’m very clear on the business model. Do you charge by a number of scans? Do you charge by there is a retainer than a number of scans, there is a trial period, I mean the test and the beginning set up I’d say and you charge? How do you work?

Thomas Morisset: Okay. So, we have three menus like basic, engage and transform. Basically, you really are going to use the solution, in a way which is the most compromised in the market. With engaging you to have access to API’s so you can complete the solution with more customized apps, you can integrate it with your architecture, the other systems your VI tools. With transforming you have access to complex models, customizable engines, RBI database, multilayered multinational organizations those types of things. So, they are the three menus, and then within each, you have different cases depending on how big you are. So, within each of the five cases, you have the maximum number of unique products created, active staff, active companies and so on.

Matthieu David: I understand. The bigger you become, the higher you have to go into the menu, you have to go to the system. You talk about menu right?

Thomas Morisset: Basic, Engage and Transform.

Matthieu David: Yes. Basic, Engage and Transform. Depending on the number of products which are in circulation, depending on the number of scans, a number of people who use it you may have to actually to go on the bigger b menu. On top of that, you get more features and more ability to track which are unlocked by the different menus. Is that correct?

Thomas Morisset: Yes so no matter your size, it’s how complex business case is or how you integrate it into your business. Then the size will go up within each menu according to the size of the business. So, the menu is a functional dimension, and the size is the other one.

Matthieu David: Okay I feel that it will be for you for every client unique in some way you have the software, but some way you will be a bit unique for each of your clients. So I can finally understand you will have to adapt a little bit. I see your implementation that you connect with 100 APIs. Is it because your clients are different and that that comes back to this question about how you have to adapt for every client?

Thomas Morisset: Definitely this is for larger organizations. This is the industry of large applications and which are integrated with the client’s ERP, BI tools, fortune systems, sometimes the SFA’s many of the typical system in China. Plus you may develop specific thoughts or specific interfaces and so for all of this you need APIs.

Matthieu David: Okay. Is it easy to motivate the team of developers when you have to adapt your product to every client as a Saas company? I mean adapt to your client. I mean that’s typically the case with a lot of tech companies’ right?

Thomas Morisset: Yes I think we have this one practice we’re very strong with. It’s a lot about size compared to what’s the other setups and difficulties. So, we have a very simple, but also stringent rule at MadeforGoods. Which is that the project leader delivers the project to the client, they are forbidden from using our developers for any, not only any customized developments but even the integration of the standard integrations. So, all the efforts to do that need to be done with our integration partners or customization partners.

Matthieu David: Interesting.

Thomas Morisset: Yes exactly. So the team is 100% focused on the product and roll out. Of course, there is a significant interaction between the two teams, but the idea is that we planned a long time ahead features and we stick to the plan. If something is needed right now, then we edit it because we have a very open platform, so there is always a way to build customized developments without inviting a team.

Matthieu David: I see, interesting. Let’s go back at the start of the business when you build your Saas product in China. I think you have co-founders. Could you tell us more about and how you started, how you brought your co-founders?

Thomas Morisset: So I quit my job almost three years ago and very good terms with them. So when I started, I was working two days a week as a consultant on a website. I did some consulting products for other companies at the same time. So, I started very light with not spending money and making a little bit of money on services and starting to develop software.

Then we started to do some IT projects a little bit about two years ago using some of the platforms and also custom developments at the same time. So, at that time I was by myself and the first (so we have 4 co-founders today) and the first of the 4 co-founders joined around that time which was middle of 2015.

Matthieu David: One year after you studied or 6 months?

Thomas Morisset: 6 months. Then we did standard products which is what is today our Back-end system basically and that system really went to live in the middle of last year.

Matthieu David: So, the middle of the last year 2016 okay.

Thomas Morisset: Yes Q3, which is a big multi micro-services very open API Backend system. Then setting projects based on that and focusing on AR and selling products since last July. Sorry, I’m not very good with chronology, it seems to be very confusing. The third co-founder joined us in June of 2016 and so more than one year ago. The last co-founder in September so also just a little bit about one year ago. The Saas product and the teams are still pretty new.

Matthieu David: How do we integrate them? I think it’s a big question for a lot of people who start businesses in China. They may start alone, and they also welcome co-founders. I think it’s very difficult and never easy at least. How did you work out to integrate them?

Thomas Morisset: I don’t think it was difficult for us. I think for each of them before they joined I think at the very least we had three months of discussion and getting to know each other. So, weekly meetings and trying to understand what role they would have and what’s their objectives and so on. I think that helped a lot.

Matthieu David: So, you met with you three co-founders for three months– I mean I guess it was the same time because the time is different. But for three months you met with each of them every week one time. And the discussions were about what they would do, what actually you do, what’s the vision and how much like, it was one hour? Two hours, lunchtime?

Thomas Morisset: It depends. Some of them had a lot of time from their work, so it was two times two hours a week. Some of them had a busy job, so it was on the weekend. One of them took six weeks vacation. So, it’s sixth full-time weeks with us before taking this year. It’s we’re never very sure. It was a good fit.

Matthieu David: The two others you were meeting was it outside or inside the office so everyone knew they would be potential partners? How did you communicate on this with the rest of the team? Did they know the process? How did it go?

Thomas Morisset: The customers also the first of the employees because there wasn’t one. The two of them was full-time as a mission in the company. We had to be straightforward with the meeting that this was something. The last one we approached via a headhunting process.

Matthieu David: Wait. Did you hire a headhunter to find you a co-founder?

Thomas Morisset: Not exactly. So we have an in-house full-time headhunter for talent acquisition and who has purchased or access to headhunting databases. So yes, it’s a headhunting process like cold calls and maintaining a network of potential candidates over time.

Matthieu David: It’s huge.

Thomas Morisset: Yes, it’s a big investment. I think it pays off. We used headhunters as well for other positions in the past, and they could not get the same quality of candidates we had. I think it’s because they could not communicate the passion of co-founders that when we cold call them directly.

Matthieu David: We’re close to the end of this china marketing podcast. How did you like the podcast? How did you like this exchange about how you run a Saas product in China?

Thomas Morisset: Very good. I realize to be careful of what says the internet. I have to go to check some things.

Matthieu David: Yes, I may have to update a little bit.

Thomas Morisset: Anything else I should look for that you have dug out?

Matthieu David: Updating your website… LinkedIn is a bit confusing because of its sometimes in Chinese, sometimes in English. I’m very careful about these things, but yes I will give over lunch sometime before you go for Christmas. I can do that yes. I’ll find out. Thank you very much, Thomas. I think it was very interesting… I guess you’ve inspired a lot of people and how to find your co-founders, how to run a Saas business in China, and business model and so on, with the Wechat ecosystem which is very interesting. Thank you very much, Thomas.

Thomas Morisset: Thank you, Matthieu, Have a good weekend. Bye.

Matthieu David: Bye-bye.


China paradigm is a China business podcast sponsored by Daxue Consulting where we interview successful entrepreneurs about their businesses in China. You can access all available episodes from the China paradigm Youtube page.

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