After working at Skype and Joost as one of the early employees, Steph decided it was time she went at it alone, using her expertise in product marketing to help small and medium size businesses launch, grow and re-focus their product and brand at a domestic and international level through her start-up, RougeFrog. I invited Steph on YHP as she shares her story.
Steph, I’m absolutely thrilled to finally have you on YHP, how are you doing?
I am good (busy) and pretty excited with what 2014 has to offer already.
Tell us a bit about life pre- RougeFrog?
I grew up in France as a child but I’ve been attracted very earlier on by working and living internationally. A summer class in the UK at the age of 16 has been the catalyst of this envy – I’ve graduated in marketing after 5 years studying across France, Scotland (Edinburgh) and Australia (Sydney). In 2000, I’ve started cutting my teeth at big companies, including Warner Home Video and then join British Telecom graduate program.
Although, I felt I wouldn’t spend my entire career there, I’ve learnt a lot moving within 3 roles over 4 years, from business to business marketing, business to consumer and the new ventures division. Stormed by an entrepreneurial envy to get things moving fast and take part in an incredible story, I’ve then joined a “tiny company” called Skype in 2004, where I headed up product marketing for 2.5 years. This has been an incredible experience. I’ve learned a lot from the job and from an amazing team. I then went off to discover what the world has to offer on a round-the-world trip before taking part in a new challenge aka Joost, the online video platform. This experience gave me an other perspective of the business, and I’m glad to have experienced it.
How did the idea for RougeFrog come about?
As I was spending more time in the entrepreneurship world through my experiences at Skype and Joost, I realised quickly that there was a growing need to help small and medium size businesses with their marketing, especially when it comes to branding, product marketing & online marketing. Those businesses sometimes don’t have the full set of necessary skills required internally, can’t afford to get a full time CMO on board or have simply chosen to de-prioritise marketing resources at an early stage. As a result, RougeFrog was born.
What is RougeFrog? And what are you trying to solve?
RougeFrog is a marketing boutique agency helping small and medium size businesses to launch, grow and re-focus their product and brand at a domestic and international level. We’re based in London and operate across Europe.
What was the hardest part of setting up the business?
Catering for sustainability over time and finding smart people that want to work together and contribute to something meaningful.
How were you able to fund it?
Starting a new business such as RougeFrog doesn’t actually cost that much those days. Also, because of its modular structure that consists in matching handpicked virtual resources to the client needs, it becomes a very cost-effective model.
Can you remember those early days, thinking of the company name, opening the company’s bank account to the first six months or so of running the business, how excited were you?
It was a very enriching experience and you get to learn a lot as you go… in an incredible fast manner! I’ve also met great people who have been very helpful and this encourages even more today to share my experience with younger entrepreneurs. At the time, I was also very excited and secretly worried: is this going to work? Will I make enough money to keep it going? A great opportunity to overcome doubt and build your confidence, that’s for sure.
They are so many challenges that entrepreneurs go through trying to build a company or making it successful, can you share a challenge you faced and how you overcame it?
Time and resources are usually the biggest challenge when it comes to building a company. It takes time to find great people and one thing you don’t seem to have too much of as an entrepreneur is … time. I’ve then decided to bring trustful and highly recommended individuals on an ad-hoc basis as extra resources to support me on specific projects. A set of people who know their things and can deliver on the spot.
What would you say were some of the key fundamentals that were implemented to accelerate the growth of the company?
Over the last 15 years, I invested a lot of my personal and work time building and nurturing a strong network. This has definitely enriched my journey and benefit to the growth of the company. You need to take the time to meet new faces, attend events, meet quality people, receive advices and share your experience and help where you can – one day or an other, it pays back. Like a good aged wine, the value of your network will increase significantly over time, provided you take good care of it.
What are some of the most important lessons that you’ve learnt on your entrepreneurial journey?
Stay focus and organised – doing one thing very well pays much more than lots of things half-baked.
Be flexible – it doesn’t always go to plan or you’ll come across things you don’t know. Find your way around.
Nurture your network – networks are like relationships. Cultivate them to make them grow.
What would you say has been your most memorable moment so far?
My most memorable moment actually come from contemplating my clients on their way to success. That makes me feel that our contribution was meaningful.
Can you tell us some of the little things that you miss from the early days?
I’ve initially spent a lot of time sharing and socialising with other young entrepreneurs, also attending numerous events and relevant training. Time is more than ever precious and I have now more than ever to compromise between the workload, meeting quality people and attending events.
What do you do outside work to unwind?
I usually keep myself very busy. I turn out to be quite artistic and been very excited lately with running my first photography exhibition aka “AntArcticArt” in London.
I’ve also got a great appetite for learning new things and discover new territories – from cookery classes, piano jazz to the Artic and Antarctica. Finally, I am quite an avid runner and all things adrenaline: skiing, surfing, desert rally and so on.
What are your plans for RougeFrog and yourself in the next 5 years?
Addressing a greater number of clients by ramping up the RougeFrog eco-system with extra resources. I am also quite keen to share my experience and spend more time educating young people on new aspects of marketing, especially in the field of product marketing where there is a huge lack of knowledge.
I find it totally inspiring to come across young people who are eager to learn and get involved and I am keen to explore opportunities that lays in bridging gaps from schools to industry for the benefit of the young generation and my future clients. I am already in discussion with several universities and schools in Europe to evaluate how we could make this happened.
Before I leave you today Steph, what advices do you have to anyone reading this interview hoping to start a business?
Think customer, test-track and learn, follow your gut, keeps your eyes opened and takes this opportunity to cultivate your patience, It always takes more time than you think.
Thanks so much for your time Steph
Thanks Joseph and wishing all the best to YHP.