Céline Lazorthes is the founder and CEO of the Leetchi Group, which counts more than eight million users in over 150 countries!
BACKGROUNDCreated in 2009 by Céline Lazorthes, Leetchi.com is a secure web service that provides a fun and easy way for people to collect and manage money online. Named the best French startup of 2013 by Wired Europe, Leetchi is the European leader in online money pots, with more than eight million users in over 150 countries. Leetchi Group also launched MANGOPAY in April 2013: the payment solution enables collaborative players such as marketplaces and crowdfunding platforms to access Leetchi’s crowdfunding technology. In September 2015, Crédit Mutuel Arkéa acquired an 86% stake in the Group’s capital, with the existing management team maintaining control of the company.
Can you tell us about the creation and development of your company? When did you decide to become an entrepreneur?Céline Lazorthes: I created Leetchi in 2009 and originally came up with the idea when I was organizing an integration weekend for my class at HEC. It was a struggle to collect each student’s contribution, since some people only used checks and others didn’t have change. I was looking for a tool that would allow me to collect money from different people online. That service didn’t exist at the time, so I gave it a shot! I never truly set out to become an entrepreneur. For me, entrepreneurship was a means of expressing myself and a way to meet a need.
Why did you decide to enroll at HEC Paris? What advantages did it offer you?CL: In 2007, after completing a Master II in Internet and Media Management at IIM (Léonard de Vinci), I enrolled in the Sepcialized Master in Digital Business Management at HEC Paris. I wanted to strengthen my business and management skills, and obviously don’t regret the choice! The program was an tremendously enriching experience: the coursework was fantastic, the student body was diverse and the teaching staff were always ready to share their knowledge and push us to give our all.
What is your favorite memory from your time at HEC?CL: My time at HEC was of course marked by Leetchi. I specifically remember the integration weekend that gave me the idea for creating the service. I also have wonderful memories of my digital communication classes, where we built case studies around Leetchi. I also have great memories of the inspiring people I met, like the Rosenblum brothers or Yseulys Costes from 1000mercis, who all shared their experience with us.
What is your contact with HEC alumni today?CL: I still see a lot of alumni on a regular basis, especially the ones I met at the HEC Incubator: Isabelle Rabier, Tatiana Jama or Alix Poulet, who recently joined the Leetchi team as COO. I also speak to students at conferences whenever I can. I’m always eager to spend a little time sharing my experience and encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit!
“Surround yourself with the right people because you can’t succeed on your own.”
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?CL: Surround yourself with the right people because you can’t succeed on your own. It’s essential to build a tight-knit team with complementary skills and to work with positive individuals who can offer a fresh perspective and, if possible, a prior experience with entrepreneurship. That’s what makes a strong entrepreneur. Another important thing I would advize them to do is to test out their idea on the market as early as possible. Even if the product is not quite perfect, it still helps determine whether it is actually useful and whether there is interest among consumers.
- +8 million users in over 150 countries
- Each money pot collects an average of €400 from 12 donors
- 1 in 3 French people know the Leetchi.com website