Alain Hazout (M.S. Marketing and Service Management 2008) recently joined Waze, the celebrated GPS community app. bought by Google. Today, he is head of the division that manages relations and partnerships with brands (insurance, travel, telecoms, energy, catering, etc.), and he feels he has re-discovered the dynamic spirit of a start-up, that he first encountered during his time at Twitter.
Waze has nearly 10 million users per month in France, what is behind this success?
It is true that France is the 3rd largest user of the app. 3 years ago, we had 3 million users per month, and that was with zero marketing. Waze has more than tripled that number today. This is partly due to word of mouth and the relevance of information shared by users. Today, approximately 10,000 active publishers update Waze maps. The community aspect of the app plays a huge role in its success.
Why did you leave Twitter for Waze?
I joined Twitter France at the very beginning. After several years at Google, it was an opportunity to discover the world of start-ups. In a small structure, we work with more flexibility, employees work more independently and that is how new models are made. At Waze, I like the "Swiss army knife" (polyvalent) aspect. This is what real entrepreneurship is.
Would you be interested in starting your own company?
Why not?! I have often asked myself this question. I even took part in (and won) a competition called “Graines de Boss” launched by French TV channel M6. I pitched the idea for an interim company for seniors. It's still a hot topic!
What does emlyon business school mean to you?
Once again, I think of the school’s entrepreneurial spirit. I appreciated the fact that our speakers were business professionals. That made everything tangible, and that is what’s interesting.
Is there an entrepreneur who inspires you?
I like Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb. He is a good communicator and shares group values. He asked the users of Airbnb via Twitter how best to improve it. Then in a second tweet, he presented the 10 ideas he had selected. The client has a say and, just like at Waze, the community aspect is promoted.
What book do you have on your nighstand?
The book by Vikash Dhorasoo, Comme ses pieds. I’m such a big football fan, and the author is so endearing: he reveals all and has kept his head on his shoulders and his feet on the ground. It even contains a message about putting things in perspective, being objective about yourself and making personal progress.
How would you describe yourself?
“A calm powerhouse” :) For me, this signifies simplicity and humility[HC1] , two key values!