Guénolé Wendling : “Entrepreneurship is an emotional rollercoaster!”

Jun 14, 2019

Funbooker is a platform devoted to leisure activities all over France. It’s headed by Julien Ampollini, Eric Abouaf and Guénolé Wendling (MS Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management, 2010) who aim to quickly turn it into a European leader for booking leisure online. The website lists thousands of activities from parachuting to cookery workshops to children’s birthday parties and amusement parks. After a first fundraising effort (1.3 million euros), the three entrepreneurs are getting ready for a second round. Their objective: gain market share in a very lucrative market. “In Europe, it just keeps on growing, with an estimated value of 40 billion euros, and growth in excess of 10% a year,” says Guénolé Wendling.

How did the Funbooker platform happen?

It flowed from meeting my partners when we worked for the Solocal group, and from our shared desire for an entrepreneurial venture. The icing on the cake is that we have complementary skills. We focused on leisure (sports activities, cultural outings, wellness, etc.) which is a big market in Europe, driven chiefly by France, Spain and Italy. Digitisation levels are low, and there are lots of small companies – going through Funbooker enables them to capture a new online customer base. And it’s allowed us to gain a foothold in a constantly-growing market.

One year post launch, how’s the platform doing?

We already have 2,500 activities listed online, and we recorded more than 10,000 bookings by end-2018, so we’re on target. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to offer our customers fresh activities – in France to begin with, before expanding in Europe. To become the European online leisure leader, we’ve set ourselves the target of listing 10,000 activities on the site and achieving brand recognition among customers.

What’s your entrepreneurial motivation?

It’s very exciting. You have tremendous freedom, and every day you have to solve new problems and invent things constantly. It’s hugely gratifying.

What’s the most complicated thing for an entrepreneur?

Opportunities and fresh ideas arise daily, and you have to make choices all the time, you can’t do everything. And it’s a very fast-moving environment – some days, you get nothing but bad news, then the day after, the dashboard’s all green. Entrepreneurship is an emotional rollercoaster!

Did your time at emlyon business school impact your career?

Before attending the school, I’d gained an engineering degree at INSA in Lyon. Going to a business school was a way of “opening my chakras”, learning new things, and discovering other business functions besides engineering. The course proved to be a real springboard for my career, and brought me numerous opportunities.

What advice would you give a student who wants to be an entrepreneur?

I’d say: “Go for it! Don’t wait until you have a brilliant idea to get going!” Nowadays it’s very simple to check whether your product/concept will find an audience. With just a few hundred euros, for example, you can run highly targeted web campaigns and see if the demand’s out there. Spend a bit of money at the outset, to prove your concept. Another tip: surround yourself with the right people. Entrepreneurship is a long journey, so it’s best to have good traveling companions…

Your last word?

Funbooker is looking to hire interns (marketing, business development…). If you want to discover a fledgling startup, now’s the time! :)

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