Speaking to Startups! Interview with Jeremy from Jogabo at Parisoma
About 2 months ago we began interviewing founders and managers of coworking spaces to get an idea of how they run and operate. Today however, we move from looking at the owners and operators to the individuals who work inside of these spaces. Our new series focuses on startups within coworking spaces to get an idea of how it affects the startup process, and what benefits it can bring. As our home office, there was no better place to start than at Parisoma in San Francisco.
We reached out to Jeremy Melul, CEO of Jogabo, who kindly accepted to answer our questions.
1. Jeremy – Background and Story
Jeremy Melul is one of the founders as well as the CEO of Jogabo. He is French and English – born in London. So far he has lived in 16 cities across 10 countries. Understandably, he calls himself a ‘citizen of the world’.
Before founding Jogabo, he earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Design Methodology from Stanford University and an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from IE Business School. After finishing school he worked at Altran: Europe as a consultant, project manager and engineer and at an NGO called Grassroot Soccer in Africa, which uses soccer as a tool to help prevent AIDS. With Jogabo, his role is product design.
2. Jogabo – What is it?
Jogabo was founded in February 2013 with Pierre-Guillaume Herveou, the coder, and Mehdi Djarbi, the designer. Jogabo is an app for soccer players around the world that allows you to track your stats, share your games, and find local matches around you. The simplest way to describe Jogabo according to Jeremy: “It’s like Nike+ meets Foursquare”. So far there are players in over 1000 cities across hundreds of countries. What’s really cool is that it’s free!
Soccer has always been a passion for the founders. While in school, Jeremy used to manage a soccer club. Mehdi and Pierre-Guillaume had each created their own social networks for soccer a few years prior. With a shared vision and relevant experience under their belts, the entrepreneurs came together to create Jogabo. We asked Jeremy to further explain their motivation:
‘’Soccer can be used as a social tool to help homeless people, to help prevent AIDS, to resolve conflicts and create more sociability around the world. Technology has a tendency to alienate people and limit interactions; we want to use technology specifically to create more interactions between people.”
And what sets your product apart from other soccer related apps? What are your strengths? ‘We focus on the player whereas the others tend to focus of the organizer.’
One of the more interesting questions however, is why they decided on the USA, of all places, to develop an app built for soccer. It seemed like a strange move to me, as soccer is traditionally seen as one of the less popular professional sports here. However, as Jeremy points out, everything comes down to scaling, “There are 24 millions of soccer players in the States and only 2.4 millions in Spain” (where it is the national sport). This also means there is quite a big community which is really looking forward to seeing this sport get developed. There are more possibilities here, and they even have an easier access to professional players.
3. Coworking at Parisoma
Having covered who he is and what he does, we were curious to learn about Jeremy’s experience operating a startup from a coworking space. One of the first questions was why and how he ended up here instead of at a private office? For Jeremy, it was never a question of price, but for the social aspect. At a previous incubator he worked at Chile, once a week the members would participate in ping-pong games where they would have to pitch their startup to each other – a really unique and fun way to integrate into the community. The Jogabo team of 3 (now 5) felt it was important to work in a place where they got to interact with different people every day. They never even thought about having their own private office. What they really like about working in a coworking space is the daily exchange of ideas with like minded professionals. “We can exchange with others that work in the same field. We talk, ask questions, discuss our projects and get instant feedback. It’s like an ‘extended team.”
When asked about the downsides for a startup working at a Coworking Space: “Maybe it can be slightly distracting. Especially when we worked in the open space area. Now we work upstairs at our dedicated desks, and it’s quieter.”
Everyday Jeremy gets to Parisoma at 6am and leaves at 8pm – a typical startup entrepreneur’s schedule. We asked what he would change about the coworking environment (his second home); he replied, “I would add more places to make discreet phone calls. And places to take naps.” Understandable.
4. Advice for Startups
Jeremy, an endless source of insight, has some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “For one, work standing up. It’s better for the posture as it doesn’t hurt your back, it helps concentration, and it keeps you energized a lot longer.” He has a stool, just in case. Secondly, considering the time and dedication required to realize a start-up’s vision, he emphasizes the importance of screening potential hires in a personal manner. “Part of our interview process is playing a game of soccer with the person, first of all because it automatically has a de-stressing effect. And we get to see how the person behaves with others. For example, we see if that person arrives on time, if they introduce themselves to everyone, and how they behave in different situations throughout the game.”
Written by: Tessa Carmeni