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Kudoz: built at Le Wagon, sold to Leboncoin

Olivier Xu created Kudoz during his last two weeks at Le Wagon. Since then, he seed funded 1.2 million euros and sold his start-up to Leboncoin. The platform has now been renamed "Emploi Cadre".
Olivier Xu built Kudoz API during his last two weeks at Le Wagon. Since then, he seed funded 1.2 million euros and sold his start-up to Leboncoin. The platform has now been renamed "Emploi Cadre".

Why did you join Le Wagon?

After two years at Rocket Internet, I realised it was absurd to work on an innovative product without understanding the technical implications for developers. Given the lack of developers, I decided to code my own prototype of the Kudoz app at Le Wagon. In only two weeks at the end of the FullStack program, I built the whole corporate web-app as well as the API based on a recommendation algorithm using LinkedIn data. At the time, we also wanted to have a credible approach with developers interested to join the project, and to be able to tell them:

Yes, we have an idea - and so do many people... But on our part, we have a credible team as well. Implementation has already begun and here is what the product looks like today!"
This is a much smarter approach for bringing skilled developers to join the team and then for working efficiently with them.

How did you know about Le Wagon?

I was one of the pioneers of Le Wagon when I participated in the first batch in January 2014. I remember Skyping with Boris Paillard, CEO of Le Wagon, from Hong Kong, where I was working on a project for Rocket Internet. I immediately liked the educational approach. It was exactly what I was looking for: training that didn't compromise on good practices and important concepts of algorithms or software architecture, while also being very product-oriented with a a big focus on startup workflows and methodologies. That squared with my desire to be independent and able to develop my own prototype and at the same time develop a solid technical background that could be relied on for the longer term.

Did you encounter any challenges during the bootcamp?

The program is extremely demanding. Even after three years of business school (HEC) and two additional years working at Rocket Internet, I was surprised by the amount of information to be absorbed each day. You really need to prepare yourself beforehand and knuckle down for the first two weeks. But after a while you get the hang of it and the course is certainly well structured, so everyone is very motivated as a result. Everything you learn is fascinating and you feel more and more empowered. Being in a widely varying group of people helps a lot. There's a really unique atmosphere, both relaxed and very professional, in their coding program. I went to see the demos of the latest promo and I was blown away. The program seems 10 times more advanced than when I was there. If I had the time, I would sign up again for two months!

What happened after Le Wagon?

After Le Wagon, we rapidly built the iOS app connected to the Kudoz API developed at Le Wagon. The back-end was there, so we just needed a nice mobile client in order to display the information so the development went very quickly. We then carried out a test phase via closed beta before launching the public version on iOS last July. We wanted to study the traction generated without marketing support and gather some engagement metrics in order to refine our recommendation algorithm. The app has generated more than 25,000 downloads and we passed the one-million-matches ! With these strong engagement metrics, we went through our first round table and raised 1,2 million euros with Schibsted Media Group, the investor of Leboncoin & MonsieurDrive. Then, we sold the start-up to Leboncoin in september 2017: the service is now known as an hiring platform young professionals called "Emploi Cadre". 

Does your training at Le Wagon help you now?

I devote two-thirds of my time to coordinate developers in order to ensure that we are following our product roadmap as precisely as possible. I would have been incapable of supervising three seasoned developers without my training at Le Wagon. My main challenge today is to unite business issues with technical issues, which are often contradictory. My commercial background (HEC) and technical skills acquired at Le Wagon help me every day in this difficult task.

Does Kudoz work with former students of Le Wagon?

Yes, I confess we do capitalize on that opportunity! We've hired two interns: Louis Pinot of batch #2 and then Ilias Hicham of batch #4. On each occasion, it's a pleasure to work with students of Le Wagon. They don't have a huge amount of experience yet but they learn very fast. They have very good work practices, for example on the GitHub workflow, and above all, they talk product and they know how to ship a feature. And that's extremely valuable.

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