Low-Code Founders: Margaux Scalisi, founder of Vefaonline

First of all, how did you come to take this path?

“Before I became an entrepreneur, I started my professional career in large companies specialising in real estate. As I evolved in this environment, I quickly realised that what I wanted to be and what I was looking for professionally were not in line with what I could find in such structures.

I don’t want to fall into “salary bashing”, but it is true that I quickly felt a lack of inspiration in these working conditions.

Often pointed out and representing a common denominator for many entrepreneurs, “the lack of autonomy and independence” was not, however, a trigger for my entrepreneurial drive.

Indeed, I quickly assumed many responsibilities in my professional environment that forced me to work independently. I can thus testify that salaried work is not just a caricature of it.

Therefore, for me, the trigger was the values. For many reasons, I no longer felt in tune with the strategic orientations and positioning of my direct management. The disconnection between the discourse and its operational declination, the reality of daily life, was an obstacle and no longer allowed me to project myself into the company.

What was the determining factor that made you take the plunge?

Having benefited (and still benefiting) from great autonomy and a strong dynamic in my previous salary experiences, the freedom so much wanted by many entrepreneurs has not been a driving force for me.

“The important thing is to create the conditions for success by following your instincts and, above all, not forcing yourself to associate by convention.”

What really attracted me to entrepreneurship was the ability to dedicate myself 100% to an idea and take it as far as I could. For me, entrepreneurship requires nothing less than passion.

When I chose to leave the large companies, an idea carried me and I remember saying to myself: “this time, I’m not stopping at the idea stage, I’m going to execute it and see it through to the end”. Vefaonline was born.

Can you introduce us to Vefaonline and how it was born?

Vefaonline is a market place dedicated to the sale of housing purchased by real estate professionals, investors or managers. In the jargon, we speak of block sales because professionals buy mostly in lots, i.e. several units at once (very often a building).

Why this idea? Well, in a sale, there is always a buyer and a seller. I’ve been lucky enough to do both functions in my previous professional experiences and I’ve noticed several difficulties: restricted access to information and new sales, increased time spent on administrative tasks, etc. At the time, there were no tools to optimise the work of the development teams to speed up transactions.

Realising that there was no real direct competition in this market, I became aware that there was a lot of evangelisation work to be done to convince stakeholders to turn to a digital solution. The challenge of creating a new market was a strong motivation for me. I liked the idea that with the will to do, I could move the lines.

“I embarked on the Vefaonline adventure on my own. It is possible and I insist on this point for the readers who would hesitate to take the plunge.”

Ten years ago, real estate experienced a first wave of digitalisation with the online sale of homes to individuals. The aim of Vefaonline is to initiate Act 2 through the sale of housing in BtoB.

For the end of 2020, our ambition is to continue the work done and to get new users to join. After demonstrating the interest of several property operators, we are aiming to increase our activity with the objective of providing our members with one sales file per week. We will therefore strengthen our presence in the Paris Region until the end of 2020.

The objective for 2021 is to develop in other regions of France.

Vefaonline is a massive project, what were the main difficulties on your road?

As an entrepreneur with no background at all in Tech, choosing the right strategy to approach the issue of platform development was complicated.

Several important questions arose: should I have a CTO? Should I use freelancers? Agencies? Choosing another format? It quickly becomes a question of budget.

Hesitating to develop the application by myself, I turned to “No-code / Low-Code” tools, thinking that it would be faster to master them. Indeed, they have clearly proven to be easier to master than traditional programming.

Although I was interested in the new Bubble.io development language for its visual programming environment, it was still a “language” in its entirety, with all the complexity it implies.

I quickly realised that the learning curve was too high, greatly threatening the crucial time of business development. My desire was to stay close to the real estate operators and this “Full time on the development of my App” aspect did not appeal to me. This state of mind is still relevant today in my opinion: the priority is not the technique but the customer.

Nevertheless, the Bubble.io technology was still the one that would allow me to realise my Minimum Viable Product as quickly as possible and to have an efficient Time-to-Market compared to traditional developments that would have required months of programming.

As digital needs multiply, the evolution of a product is inherent to any development and visual programming allows for modifications to be made in record time while developing a robust platform.

I therefore needed a trusted partner, but I still had to find one. Many agencies specialised in Bubble already existed in the United States, but I wanted to be really close to the development teams.

This is how I turned to Cube (ex-Intrafounders), a French agency specialising in Bubble, which offered to accompany me from design to development.

Having a very good interpersonal fit with the Cube team, I chose to follow my instincts and we went for it!

What do you think is the best formula for entrepreneurship?

I embarked on the Vefaonline adventure on my own. It is possible and I insist on this point for the readers who would hesitate to take the plunge.

In order not to find myself alone facing numerous decisions and a high mental load, I made sure to create a solid professional environment that would be useful for my development.

Hire a full-time CTO was not suited to my needs at the time of the launch. Furthermore, as I had not yet met the right person.

Fortunately, Cube has been and remains a real “CTO as a service” and this is exactly what my project needed at this stage of progress.

In short, there is no formula to follow for entrepreneurship, whether alone or with others. The important thing is to create the conditions for success by following your instincts and, above all, not forcing yourself to associate by convention, at the risk of exposing you to future problems.

In conclusion, I would say that you have to be quick to test a product and be in constant contact with your customers.”

Thank you again for your cheerful spirit, Margaux. We wish you fair winds!