What I've Learnt: Aymeric Monod-Gayraud, CEO at ZIPZERO
Tech startup ZIPZERO aims to help users pay their bills and make ends meet - simply by scanning their shopping receipts.
The company lets people earn a small percentage of every shop by scanning their receipt, which is then transferred to pay off household bills. Any receipt from any retailer can be photographed, and users can earn up to £50 monthly from scanning.
Aymeric has worked at a range of startups and FinTechs, before starting at ZIPZERO. We heard from him about the lessons he's learnt.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
I’m not sure if I can call it a practice but if there’s one thing I can’t function without, it’s human interaction. I thrive on the exchange of ideas.
At the office, a day wouldn't be complete without speaking to business clients, getting feedback from ZIPZERO users, or convincing investors to the merits of our investment opportunity.
What's been your luckiest break?
Having the instinct to walk away from a lucrative banking career to take a risk starting my own venture. For years I worked as an investment banker in one of the most renowned international banks in the world. But there was always another calling rising up within me - the need to create something new and change the world around me, which eventually became so strong that I decided to take that risk.
Now, years after this decision, I see how important it was for my future.
What's your best failure?
It happened years ago, back in my days as a banker. I was supposed to attend an important conference in Hungary but after an intense night, I missed my flight from Heathrow.
I went ahead and booked the next one. I arrived at Luton Airport, to find out that my new flight was departing from Stansted - so I ended up missing that one too. Luckily, hours later, I managed to catch another plane, this time from Luton.
Still, I wasn’t lucky this time either. The plane was delayed and eventually cancelled. But there’s one thing I’m known for and that’s persistence. I managed to catch the fourth flight, arrive in Hungary more than 24 hours later than originally expected, obviously missing the majority of the conference.
But I was right on time to grab lunch with a guy who later became a friend and a few years after that meeting, he ended up introducing me to the woman who’s now my lovely wife. This story always reminds me that no matter how difficult life can get, it will always find a way to surprise you.
What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?
It may sound cheesy, but the best investment I made was putting my all into starting a business and starting a family all at the same time. Both require time and financial investment, both bring joy and fulfilment.
Certainly, my wife and children are my priority, but ZIPZERO is in some way my child too. A child requiring a particular amount of attention at the moment.
How would you describe your work/life balance?
It's a permanent juggling act. With each year I feel I get a bit closer to balancing my work commitments with my family life.
Right now, I'm living in London building ZIPZERO while my family is based in Paris. The Eurostar keeps us sane for the time being - as long as the French customs authorities are not striking, of course.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
I have always been inspired by Sir James Dyson, his persistence and constant pursuit of success. In his autobiography 'Against the Odds', he tells the story of his incredible struggle to launch his business of bagless vacuum cleaners, now known all over the world.
When he appeared on the market with his ideas and prototypes, manufacturers of traditional vacuums responded first with ridicule, then lawsuits. But he kept going, fighting “against the odds” to finally reach success in 1997 when his company finally began generating annual revenue of over £100 million per year in the UK, and sales of more than one billion dollars worldwide.
I like the blunt way in which he writes about his failures and how his successes are interspersed with his unorthodox ideas on business and hard-won insights.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Be relentlessly curious and just try, try, and try again.
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
My business partner and the COO of ZIPZERO, Marcin Walaszczyk, has made a big impact on where I am today in my career.
His atypical journey as an entrepreneur has been remarkable and it’s helped him cultivate an eagle-eye view of strategy, laser focus on making things happen, and dedication to the possibility that innovative businesses can impact society in a positive way.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
I don’t spend much time out and about. At the end of the work day, I need to regroup and refresh so there’s not much time for schmoozing.
What does success look like to you?
Success usually comes as a result of hard work, time and dedication. For me, it has to have a positive impact on your surroundings and serve not only your personal goals, but also provide a higher purpose.
All these factors are necessary for me to feel 100% accomplished when doing something. Usually, if something comes easy and you can’t share the benefits with others, then your glass is only half full.