Hafida Guebli, Founder of NEYB’S, won First Prize from the HEC SnO Center, at the HEC Entrepreneur Fest 2017 contest.
I always wanted to start something of my own. It was at the age of 13 that I created my first company. At the home of my mother’s seamstress, I designed and fabricated Caftan dresses, that I lent out to my school girlfriends for the price of 10€/ dress.
I continued this activity until I turned 18 when I opened my first showroom. Through Facebook, I could manage the business and make my customer appointments. This allowed me to welcome clients in a professional setting, although it was my bedroom.
I eventually chose to take a break to prepare my baccalaureate studies.
At the age of 23, after returning from an 18-month stay in London, I launched a Tea Bar concept in the spirit of Starbucks and opened my first mall store. This endeavor lasted two years and was unfortunately negatively affected by the terrorist attacks of 2015 – the shop was 300m from the targeted market “Hyper Cacher”. After extensive reflection, I made the hard decision to minimize my losses and stop the business entirely. It was 2015, and I had to rebound. I was passionate about entrepreneurship and sought to make a greater impact.
Can you tell us about the creation and development of your company? When did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Aware of problems in society, such as education, professional integration and social inclusion, I decided to develop an inclusive, digital solution to improve people’s autonomy and social integration, in particular for those with a verbal disability (deaf, hard of hearing, illiterate, non-Francophone in France, …).
And today here we are; NEYB’S has been rewarded for its innovation and its social impact.
Why did you decide to enroll at HEC Paris? What advantages did it offer you?
After completing my application, I quickly start looking for an eco-system that would allow me to develop my product and my network.
The most prestigious for me were the business schools with both the network and the teaching team to accompany me in this adventure.
I applied by spontaneous candidatures to the 2 big schools: ESSEC and HEC. The first explained to me that only students from the school can apply. However, HEC called me back, through Valérie Barry-Gandhi, head of HEC Stand-up, a program that supports women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and / or with high-impact projects. I filled out the application form, and at the end of November, I received the good news: I was selected to join “Cohort 7” of the HEC Paris Stand Up program.
This is the first goal reached out of a long series that would follow.
What is your favorite memory of your time at HEC?
My best memory … I am obliged to say that I have two.
The first: January 10, 2017 when I walked into the campus of HEC Paris for the first time. I had just joined the academy “Become an Entrepreneur of Change” led by Lise Penillard.
I put on my best clothes for the occasion, just like my first day back at school. At 9:45am, with my peers, we stepped into the very large T building, where I met the brilliant Professor Iselin and quickly got to know his famous expression, “there’s a job to be done”. Frédéric Iselin is one of the professors who taught me the most professionally.
The second memory: obviously the first prize awarded to NEYB’S at the HEC Entrepreneur FEST, held on December 21, 2017 at Station F in Paris, in front of the entire HEC Paris Community!