"I wanted to set up my own business in a field that has a positive impact on people's lives."
Gaëlle Frizon de Lamotte worked for 10 years as a manager at Philips, first in the Netherlands, then in France. It was there that she discovered entrepreneurship: acting as an entrepreneur while working as an employee for a company. Managing projects from A to Z gave her a taste for entrepreneurship and setting up her own business. She wanted to set up a project that would have a positive impact on people's lives. She finds the idea in her everyday life.
"Before OLY Be*, when I did yoga, I practiced at the home of someone who lived in my neighborhood. We'd meet every Saturday morning in a small group in her apartment, and a yoga teacher would come and teach us. "*
Gaëlle came up with her concept: to connect teachers with students wishing to host yoga classes in their homes. In October 2015, she created OLY Be with her own funds. The concept appeals, and will evolve. Soon came the idea of offering a higher density of classes in larger venues, at a competitive price. The aim: for everyone to be able to find a class close to home and at a reasonable price.
"There are two main obstacles to regular sporting activity. In France, the first is the lack of geographical proximity. The second is price. We really wanted to make yoga financially accessible to everyone, bearing in mind that a yoga class costs an average of €20 in the Paris region. With us, it's less than 10€."
Focusing on this accessibility for all, OLY Be has forged partnerships with around a hundred locations where weekly classes are held. Gaëlle began her adventure alone, and to make a name for herself, she relied on word-of-mouth, banking on this community aspect. The main lever she uses is Facebook. With little money at the outset, she managed to grow her community through this social network, which still works very well today.
Everything was running smoothly until the arrival of the coronavirus epidemic. Relying solely on a network of physical classes, we had to adapt quickly if we were not to go under. Very quickly, the team set up a schedule of live and online courses for easy practice from home. Yet another way of making yoga even more accessible to all.
"Like many people, we didn't anticipate the arrival of the coronavirus at all. We found ourselves with nothing from one day to the next. It really wasn't in our plans at all to develop this online side. Neither in the short nor medium term. We knew we had to be quick and within 24 hours, we launched our live course schedule. We really transformed our business."
This change does not make up for the entire loss of sales due to Covid, but a new model has been born. Today, online and physical offerings coexist. So you can practice in your neighborhood, close to work with the network of partner gyms, or at home with online classes. What seemed to be an obstacle has enabled OLY Be to evolve.
"We managed to turn this very bad news into an opportunity by developing a new online business offer. We continued all this online even when the physical courses were reactivated over the summer. This also enabled us to face this new phase of confinement with greater serenity."
In the midst of confinement, OLY Be pulls off a feat: raising 1.5 million euros. In the world of sport, it's rare to see fund-raising this high.
"We're super happy to have managed to raise funds in the middle of a confinement. It's really nice. I think we managed to turn around super fast, thanks to our community following us."
The OLY Be community welcomes online courses. This format also makes it possible to reach a new audience.
"Initially, the online courses mainly reached our community. Today, thanks to it, we're reaching more and more new people."
The online courses are reaching a new audience, including companies. For the past 2 years, OLY Be has also been expanding into B2B. Initially, it all began with word-of-mouth: students shared with the team their desire to set up courses in their companies. Although a minority compared to their B2C offer, companies are becoming increasingly interested, particularly in online courses to improve their employees' well-being.
"B2B worked very well during the lock-in. Companies were very keen to find solutions to improve the well-being of their teleworking employees. We're getting more and more requests, both from companies that were already customers of our physical classes in the workplace, who are switching to online classes, and from other companies that want to set up yoga or more general sports classes for their employees. It's hard to keep moving while confined, yet it's essential for both physical and mental health."
Gaëlle also takes great care to ensure the well-being of her team, now numbering around fifteen.
"Sport is encouraged. Alongside the OLY Be* subscription, everyone also has a GymLib subscription. You have access to thousands of gyms all over France. With us, we encourage people to take up sport to keep their spirits up "*.
Even outside confinement, employees can telework if they wish. During lockdowns, the team maintains daily communication to set the day's priorities, but also to gauge morale.
"Confinement is very violent. You have to look after the well-being of your team. It's a new way of working. After the first confinement, we sat down as a team and said to ourselves: how can we reinvent our way of working at OLY Be ? Once we're out of this coronavirus period, the idea is to keep 2 days of telecommuting a week for those who want it."
Gaëlle stressed another point: the well-being of our teams depends above all on giving meaning to our employees' missions.
"Finding meaning in your job is essential. Having clear objectives, a global vision of where the company is heading. All these things contribute enormously to making you feel good in your company."
Gaëlle created OLY Be to do good around her: this applies to her customers, but also to her team. Her business is intrinsically linked to her personal values: an advantage in the day-to-day running of her business.
"Setting up your own business is complicated: you have to work a lot. You'll clearly work harder if you deeply believe that what you do has a positive impact on people's lives. I'm aligned with what I do, and customers feel it. People need honesty and authenticity today. The well-being we wish to give is not a Marketing posture, and I'm convinced that's what makesOLY Be so successful."
We asked Gaëlle for her advice on how to get started as an entrepreneur.
1. Putting things into perspective
"It always feels like there's a huge step to take. Of course, it's a leap into the unknown, but what was the worst that could happen to me? Having to find another job. Of course, if you fail, your ego takes a hit because you didn't succeed in what you set out to do. But in any case, even if you fail, you come out the other side with new knowledge."
2. Trust your instincts
"In the beginning, when you set up your company, you're constantly on quicksand. You don't know anything about it, and in the end, it's your instinct that guides you. And often, it's right. In 99% of cases."
3. Surround yourself well
"In the beginning, I met everyone I was told to meet. I was able to build my first network, and get feedback on my concept. There's often this fear that someone will steal your idea if you talk about it. You have to forget about that right away. It's true that there are plenty of people who have entrepreneurial ambitions, but there's a huge gap between those ambitions and the actual implementation of the idea. In the end, the idea doesn't really matter. What really counts is execution.
It's important to meet as many people as possible and build up a network, and don't hesitate to ask for help. I've never had a problem saying: "I don't know how to do that. Can you help me?"
When we ask her what her mantra is, Gaëlle replies with a quote from Oscar Wilde, a powerful incentive to take action.
"Living is the rarest thing in the world; most people are content to exist, without more."
Would you like to take up yoga? Discover OLY Be and its online and in-person courses.