Entrust your start-up to a large group to go farther

success story
Entrust your start-up to a large group to go farther
Signing of the repurchase agreement - July 2017
28 November 2017 / Buy a company, E-Commerce/E-Tourism, Grow your business, Start your business

The merger-acquisition with the Spanish buyer Tus Media proves to be a very good growth operation

Childhood friends Robin Guerrier and Joseph Randriamampianina teamed up after finishing their studies to turn to entrepreneurship. They launched Proxiprof in 2014, a free Internet private tutoring site. In 2017, at only 26 years old, they handed over their company to TUS Media, a Spanish group, and found themselves heading the French subsidiary. With the help of Provence Promotion for the transaction, the two founders explain the reasons why they preferred raising capital for the sale and reveal their projects for development. Interview.

How did you get the idea for starting Proxiprof?

As students we wanted to make ends meet by offering private tutoring. But we encountered difficulties in finding pupils. To be honest, there were no offers outside those from Acadomia and small adverts at the bakery. In 2014, we launched the geo-located Proxiprof platform with the aim of reducing the inequalities when accessing private tutoring. After three years, our site performed well with 17,000 teachers signed-up, 30,000 monthly visits and a sales revenue of €30,000.  Establishing contact between students and teachers being free, our business model rests on paid advertisement for optimized referencing such as on the Bon Coin site. The crowd funding operation which we launched in 2016 to raise €10,000 and insure our development contributed to reinforcing our site's reputation.

What is the investment strategy of the Spanish group's TUS Media?

TSU Media was founded in 2004 by Albert Clemente in Granollers near Barcelona and also offers private tutoring via TUS affiliates, TusClasesParticulares and on line classes via ClassGap. Present in Spain and Latin America, TUS Media wants to conquer the European market. With 40 million class hours per year and 3 billion euros, France represents the most dynamic European market.

Albert Clemente showed interest in our vision, our competencies and offered to take over Proxiprof while giving us the opportunity of heading the French subsidiary.  Admittedly, this meant giving up our original project. But on the other hand, it was an extraordinary opportunity to profit from additional means in order to become market leader. Alone we go faster but together we go farther.

Through what channels have you joined the "Go Between in Provence" from Provence Promotion?

We negotiated at length with Albert Clemente. We were afraid of committing errors during the transaction since TUS Media had drawn up the sales contract. We contacted the Marseille Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry which directed us to Provence Promotion. Highly reactive, the Aix-Marseille agency for economic development recommended a law firm specialized in intellectual property. The acquisition took place in July and Proxiprof is now called Voscours.fr. We maintain our decision-making independence and supplement our salaries with business incentives. 

Moreover, Albert Clemente, who was invited by Provence Promotion to the "Invest in Provence" event in early summer, thus discovered our beautiful region and the vitality of its ecosystem. Currently, Provence Promotion is offering to accompany us in our new developments. Based at the IUT in Aix-en-Provence, we are thinking of moving and hiring around ten people (Information technologies, marketing, development...) in 2018. We will open a subsidiary in Italy next year.

Are you already able to quantify the impact of this growth strategy?

In only three months our network has exploded going from 17,000 to 100,000 teachers, whether for tutoring or adult classes (photography, yoga, theater...).  Our objective is to double the number of signed-up teachers within one year. We congratulate ourselves for the strategic decision of joining the Spanish group.

The students have now a greater chance of finding their ideal teacher thanks to the users' scoring system. They also benefit from attractive rates ranging from €10 to €20 an hour.

In our view, raising capital should not be considered the only means to accelerating a start-up's development. The acquisition fusion proves to be a good compromise as it allows one to maintain a rather strong decision-making power while having more means at his disposal.