03. A Conversation with/ Fabrice Grinda.

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Fabrice Grinda is one of the most remarkable French tech legends, he's an entrepreneur, an investor, and a public speaker. He's known for investing in over 1000 startups, with more than 300 successful exists (Wow!), such as Alibaba Group, Airbnb, BlaBlaCar, and many others.

I had the opportunity to spend an amazing hour with him in July 2023 as the final guest on my old Twitch show "Le Patron." Unfortunately, the video was never published as I decided to end StartupOKLM.

However, I felt the need to share such valuable content, so it was clear to me to do so with the launch of MakeitMania. and its mission of making tech work for you.

So Fabrice, what are you the most proud of?

I believe my greatest achievement is creating or investing in companies that improve people's lives. My mission is clear: to use technology to make people's lives better.

In the 21st century, we face three major problems:

  • Inequality of opportunities.
  • Climate change.
  • And a physical and mental health "crisis".

Governments cannot solve these problems due to their structure. That's why I create or invest in technology that helps address these issues.

For example, take OLX, with more than 300 million monthly users. We are deeply embedded in the social fabric of many countries like India, Pakistan, Ukraine, Brazil, where millions of people rely on our platform.

And I don't see climate change as one problem but many interconnected issues, so I try to support founders who want to solve each of these small problems individually in order to make the world a better place! :)

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Talking about tech, I'm deeply curious to know, what do you think of Apple's Vision Pro?

It doesn't make sense to be limited by the small screen and limited interface of a mobile phone. So the idea of having a "superimposed" screen in front of me, where I can interact using my thoughts, makes perfect sense.

However, to make it accessible to the general public, there are still many obstacles to overcome: The cost should be between $200 and $300, similar to a gaming console. It should be useful, and especially, easy to use, and we can agree that we're still far from that.

By the way, we haven't invested in VR (Virtual Reality) yet, even though it has been around for a long time. One of our criteria is that we need at least 100 million users on one platform; otherwise, there isn't enough market to create large-scale apps.

For example, the right time to invest in iOS was in 2012, even though the iPhone was released in 2007. Between those years, the best practices for development, monetisation, etc., weren't well-defined.

In fact, it's not about being the first; it's about being the best—Google wasn't the first search engine, Facebook wasn't the first social media platform. For AR (Augmented Reality), I can imagine a future with Vision Pro, but we're probably about 10 years away from that reality.

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If the right time to invest in iOS was in 2012, how can we determine this "perfect" timing?

As I mentioned, the "perfect" time to invest in a platform like iOS, Android, Meta Quest, or Sony Playstation VR is when there are at least 100 million users on that platform. And you need a KILLER application, a genuine need for users to engage on those platforms.

For AR (Augmented Reality), it will be a major thing for sure! However, for now, it's too expensive, too slow, limited in use cases, and not yet mainstream. So, I'm not very confident in the success of Apple Vision Pro at the moment.

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OK. Other than timing, do you have other criteria regarding your investments?

Sure! I always work with 4 criteria, and to invest, I need to have all four of them. Just one isn't enough! I typically conduct two one-hour meetings with founders: the first with my team and the second with me.

1. Do I like the team?

Most investors talk about investing in great teams, but what defines a great team? For us, we seek individuals who excel in both execution and communication. They should be eloquent, visionary, and good salespeople to easily leverage interesting valuations.

2. Do I like the "job"?

It's about how the founder talks about their venture, the market size, average basket size, net contribution margin, customer acquisition cost, and ideally even an analysis of landing pages, including keyword density... It's all about having strong unit economics.

The ideal scenario would be to have a profitable company with projected recurring purchases over the next 5 to 10 years.

For example, if we consider marketplaces, I believe that a successful one should capture at least 25% of global market sales. And for service marketplaces, it should account for at least 25% of the individual's revenue.

3. Do I approve of the investment terms?

We're simply seeking a fair deal with the founders, nothing extraordinary.

4. And finally, does it align with my vision for the future of humanity and the industry?

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Oh, I'd like to hear about your vision for the future. I'll suggest some topics, and you can share how you predict things in 10 years from now, in 2033. Sound good?

Sure! Let's go!

Future of Mobile Phones? We won't switch to a new platform by 2033 (AR/VR), but I believe our mobile phones will become more powerful, with improved batteries, features, and speed.

Future of Connecting with People? I'm optimistic that with AI, we will work less, as our lives have already improved since the 19th century when people used to work over 80 hours a week for a lower quality of life. Therefore, the surprising aspect is that we will spend more time connecting with people, and have a better relationship with technology, as it has already begun.

Future of Money? We transitioned from a gold-based system to the current fiat system, which has its advantages. The dollar is currently the dominant currency, and I believe it will remain so for the next 10 years, without a doubt!

Future of Mobility? In 2017, only 0.1% of cars sold were electric. By 2021, this number jumped to 14%, reaching 35% in Europe. I predict that by 2033, the majority of cars sold globally will be electric. Additionally, we may witness the start of a revolution with autonomous cars, aiming to reduce delivery costs significantly.

Future of Learning? Imagine If I bring Socrates into our world today; he wouldn't recognise many things like Wi-Fi or planes. However, the way we teach our kids would be familiar to him. We still have teachers of varying quality sharing knowledge to students of varying abilities. I believe the future will be different! AI will teach classes with a personalised experience and infinite empathy, making the teacher more of a consultant or coach. With all that, not only kids from wealthy families will have tutors, but everyone will benefit from such a thing. Same for universities!

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I have one last question: Are you "happy"?

Yes! I believe that I've learned how to live. How? By simply trying and experimenting with many things. I often wonder why we tend to believe that there's only one way to live life. The typical path of going to high school, then college, getting a job, getting married, and having kids—it's a common script. But why not personalise our lives to suit our individual needs? We should live the life we want to live.

In 2012, I gave away everything I owned to charity, reduced my possessions to just 50 items, and started living on my friends' sofas. I did this because I felt that as we age, the quality of our interpersonal relationships tends to decrease. We become busier, and when we do catch up with friends, it's often more about giving a biographical update than having a real conversation. During this phase, I discovered what brings me the most joy. Such an experience has greatly helped me lead a more fulfilling life :)

Hello!

My name is Adil Mania, and I write on how tech can work for you, every Wednesday.

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Have a fantastic week!

Adil