Entrepreneurship is a state of mind. Sometimes it rises up in you at the start of your university studies. And for other people, sometimes they are struck by the idea after being out in the professional world for several years. This was the case for Gwenvael Lemoine, 2003 Global BBA graduate from NEOMA Business School.
Once he had his degree in his pocket, Gwenvael began working as the marketing director for an insurance group. He held the position for seven years before working in the sales department for five more years at the same company.
But the entrepreneurial spirit was already in him. Gwenvael took advantage of internal restructuring to breathe life into a project that he had been turning over in his mind for several years: creating a meaningful start-up. That’s how Chympy, the first cash-back platform in Normandy, was born. “Despite several years in the same company with all the security that you have as a full-time employee, I felt the need to follow my own dreams and not someone else’s,” Gwenvael said.
After taking stock of the different ideas he had for starting a business, Gwenvael chose the one that most fully matched his personal values. Through his local cash-back system, the purpose of Chympy is to revitalise neighbourhood shops, a sector that’s currently in crisis, while increasing purchasing power for consumers and enhancing the local economy.
Creating a project
In practical terms, how does it work? “It’s simple, fast and secure. The first step is to create your account on Chympy, then connect your bank account. For this purpose, Chympy established a partnership with a certified account aggregation company connected to all of the French banks. Then you just need to make a purchase with your debit card directly from one of the partner businesses without changing your routines or habits. The cash-back refund is automatically deposited in your bank account and/or donated to the paediatric association Les P’tits Doudous , a partner with Chympy”.
The original motivation behind creating the project Chympy came from the idea of making it easier for parents save money for their children regardless of the their income. For Gwenvael, who is father of two young boys, this was a matter particularly close to home. “I wanted to give each person the chance to offer their children a better future, for example by saving for their education. Nonetheless, that was just a niche, so I expanded the target in order to boost the purchasing power of all the consumers. I let them decide what they want to do with the money they’ve saved through Chympy. Of course, they can save it for the children’s future or put the cash-back refund into other projects that may not have been possible without Chympy! It’s very rewarding”.
The life of a start-up entrepreneur: an uphill battle
It has been a passionate experience that has nonetheless been filled with obstacles for this graduate in search of meaning. “A career change is non-stop work. You turn your life upside down not just professionally, but personally too. The support of my wife has been vital to the success of this life project. I chose an entrepreneurial adventure that, while being exciting, is also stressful. A family comes with major responsibilities so I made sure to think it over carefully before starting out”.
On a daily basis, Gwenvael must show outstanding agility. Seven days a week, including holidays, he eats, sleeps and breathes Chympy. This pressure is luckily compensated by the advantages that come with being an entrepreneur. He has enormous day-to-day freedom, moves beyond his limits and enjoys a wide variety of interactions with all of the stakeholders. “Every day is different. I always need to adapt, which is exactly what I like to do!”
In short, Gwenvael wants to encourage every employee with an inkling of entrepreneurship in them to follow their dreams: “Despite the difficulty of making that first leap, we only have one life to live, so it is important to live your dreams! NEOMA graduates have the opportunity to use the school’s extensive network and receive support and guidance from its incubators… so why would you turn away from that?”
The next steps for Chympy: expand its network of partner businesses in the Rouen metropolitan area, then Normandy and then throughout France.
Want to learn more? Visit Chympy!