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“If you’re itching, and you feel ready, then get started!"
Are your courses over or are you looking for a summer job? No need to run everywhere to distribute your CV! Simply put it on Job'n Roll, a platform created to revolutionize student job recruitment. We asked our passionate founder, Sarah Tondji, 23 years old, dauphinoise and student-entrepreneur PSL-Pépite, today at Station F.
Hello Sarah. Can you tell us a few words about your background before arriving at PSL-Pépite?
Sarah Tonji: After the baccalaureate, I chose to apply to Dauphine in the field of mathematics. It was a time of questioning about myself, my studies and what they could bring me. And, at the same time, I had the opportunity to work an entire summer employed in a supermarket. I confronted the reality. While my studies had brought me only theoretical knowledge, by being at the cash handling desk, I understood the importance of practical knowledge. In taking the courses, I was frustrated and I wanted to dig into an entrepreneurial project, without actually knowing the right way to launch it.
PSL: What was the trigger for getting into entrepreneurship?
ST: I’ve had the entrepreneurial spirit since I was a child. My father was an entrepreneur and his career inspired me a lot. He was happy to come home from work and I thought he was someone who really knew how to question himself. I was lulled by the idea that entrepreneurship and personal fulfillment can easily be combined. But the real trigger or the switch was at Dauphine. I was in Master’s program and clearly, I had lost all motivation. My grades were catastrophic. One day, I saw a poster with the D-Start program and, piqued by curiosity, I went to see the head of this incubator Dauphine, Estelle Basquin, who spoke to me about the student-entrepreneur status. I remember going out into the yard with tears of joy! That's when I realized that a new door was opening for me. And that's where the entrepreneurial adventure began.
PSL: After this experience at D-Start, how did you come to PSL-Lab, the coworking space of PSL?
ST: I entered the PSL-Lab via the PSL-Pépite program in September 2017 and on application. I came up with the idea of setting up our project to "revolutionize" student employment by creating a simpler connection between the companies and the students. The big asset of this program, for me, was the supervision: I felt able to make my dream a reality, since there was a support structure from the start. This allowed me, in a few months, to gain valuable advice from professional tutors, and meet student-entrepreneurs who, like me, were embarking on their projects. In a short time, finally, we realized the project: we have more than 1500 student registrations since last October and partners from large enterprises (Burger King, Carrefour, Domino's Pizzas, The Family Company ...) that we already trust. We value both the company and the student by highlighting, through testimonials, the experiences of the latter.
It is thanks to PSL-Pépite that I entered, with my partner Fawzi, at Station F. I am currently in the PSL-Starter program with the Region Ile-de-France. The projects are more "tech" targeted and the topics of our workshops are more precise: they correspond to the progress of our project.
PSL: What do you think are the essential qualities that an entrepreneur must have?
ST: I would say that it takes a clever mix of risk taking, and the capacity to take a step back, to reflect. It's funny: in the same day, we can take initiatives and do, then we must reflect about what we’re doing. Quite the challenge! If I had to add a last quality, I would say that an entrepreneur must be charismatic, in the sense that he must radiate, infuse energy to the team and all employees.
PSL: What was the most complex step you managed?
ST: The launch of the new website was the most complex step. It is a good illustration of the difficulties entrepreneurs face regularly: you have to learn to have a 360 ° vision, to do project management and to understand all the technical complexity behind it. Making a website is a daily learning curve! It has been a real adventure, but what saved us is that our team is bonded. Despite the difficulties and differences of opinion, we managed to surpass ourselves and put our website into production, so this is also our greatest achievement.
Human relations may be hard to manage. It's hard to build strong relationships, but it's essential for long-term projects: with my partner, Fawzi, we know how important it is for the team. Loyalty is just as important as complementarity.
PSL: What advice would you give to a student who hesitates to get started?
ST: If you're itching, and you feel ready: take the momentum and get started! Do not be afraid of prejudices, psychological brakes that can be put in an unjustified way. I am a woman but that has never limited me and I am a legitimate leader. Education has played its role and then, around us, there are so many inspiring examples! Barack Obama without Michelle, for example, that is not conceivable! (Laughter)
Today, slowly, we are waking up. There are always more alternatives to the "metro-work-sleep" routine; proof is the Pépite program which is spreading everywhere in France! Obviously, it answers a need. In short, today more than ever, if you feel like you have the soul of an entrepreneur, get prepared, keep your grain of madness and go!
PSL: What can we wish you?
ST: First: iron health! I wish to maintain the vital energy I need to continue to carry out this project. We also want to increase our database of customers (whether companies and students), to succeed our fundraising campaign before the end of 2018 ... In short, we have a great program!