scholarship

Monsieur “Hypercroissance” of the French ecosystem

“We lack talent with experienceconfided Jean-David Chamboredon in a recent interview with Maddyness. A lack of experience that can lead to companies struggling to break through glass ceilings. Taking a company from 1 million to 10 million is not the same as going from 10 million to 100 million.”. Pingki Houang is one of the rare profiles in the French ecosystem who knows growth at their fingertips.

Pingki Houang was born in Cambodia in the middle of the civil war and came to France at the age of 5. His parents encouraged him to study for a long time, but his career was shaped by a passion for new technologies. He still remembers the day his father took him to an event where Steve Jobs was launching the Apple II Plus in Paris. He also remembers the computer club where he got his first experiences and the first video game consoles (Atari ST and Amiga) where he spent all those nights. At 19, he will also create his first box in importing video games.

His parents would like to see him in graduate school like his siblings who became engineers or architects. He decides to study at the school of life. So he will compensate for his lack of studies by always working more than the others. He also has two qualities that have been invaluable to him in the world of entrepreneurship: a thirst for constant learning and a great ability to take risks.

Colorful career start: Fnac, then Pixmania

His career really started at Fnac as a salesman. He will stay there for seven years, gradually climbing the ladder.“At Fnac I understood retail… and I also understood how a Franco-French box works, where it’s very political and you have to have attended certain schools to be able to claim certain positions. I left when I reached the end…” . The year is 2000 and Pingki Houang comes at the time of the founding of Pixmania. He will progress from position to position over the 12 years he will spend in this group as Head of Human Resources, Communications, COO but also as General Manager. “I learned everything therehe explains. I understood that everything is possible if you are self-taught, curious and professional. The principle is to say that we know nothing … and that we have learned by walking … or rather by running”.

Because the Pixmania adventure was a race. From a business volume of 1.7 million euros in the sale of digital cameras, Pixmania increases to 30 million euros, 75, 130, 250, 400 … until finally a business volume of almost one billion euros is reached.

Phenomenal growth that could make people arrogant and, at least according to Pingki Houang, has made them less picky about the competition. “The great lesson of the Pixmania adventure is that you always have to manage to have a beginning and an end. They can be up one day and fall down the next. The law of physics is always respected in the world of entrepreneurship and you always have to know when to leave.”

Since then, Pinkgi Houang has always thought about her professional experiences in three-year periods. “If I’m involved for three years, I’ll inevitably do it with a different intensity than if I’ve been involved for ten years. We question ourselves pretty quickly. Every year you check if you are in line with your goals.” For him, three years is the right measure of work experience. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to quit your job every three years, but there is a horizon wide enough to make a real difference and close enough to apply the necessary pressure.

“So I can be sure that the value proposition is real”he explains.

Hunted to be CEO of Showroomprivé and Stuart

When it comes time for Pingki to leave Pixmania (the company had been sold to Dixons in 2006, which he will describe as bad synergy), he prepares for a long hiatus to recover from the intensity of recent years . He sees himself benefiting from it for at least six months. Then one evening he meets the co-founder of Showroomprivé. The stream passes immediately and Thierry Petit tells him that he has been looking for a manager for two and a half years without success. Pinki answers: “I don’t want to work now, but if you want, I’ll come to you next year.” Thierry Petit manages to get him to the startup’s premises to meet the teams. Pingki Houang left Pixmania in October 2012 and will join Showroomprivé in November of the same year.

He discovered the value of still having the founders in the position of “doers”: who can come and challenge Veepee? For comparison: The company, then known as Vente-Privée, achieved the same amount of 1.2 billion euros, while Showroomprivé generated 250 million euros with the entry of Pingki Houang.

Three years later, the number has doubled to catch up with what was then the undisputed leader in the industry. “Showroomprivé is a great French successhe delivers. Once again I feel like anything is possible. That we can do it with the best talent and a clear vision.”. He has fond memories of Showroomprivé’s IPO, an event that marked his departure from the company. “Sometimes ratings don’t make sense and you get a penalty immediately if you slip by one percent”.

He then goes skiing for a few months when a headhunter approaches him with a proposition: to join Stuart as general manager. He has fond memories of the experience there, even though there’s only a year left. La Poste, a Stuart shareholder since 2015, then activated her call option more quickly, which she did in March 2017.

In the eyes of Pingki Houang, La Poste is one of the most innovative French companies.

Data in focus: FashionCube and Scalapay

He will then launch FashionCube on behalf of the Mulliez Group’s textile brands (Jules, Brice, Bizbee, Pimkie, Orsay, Rouge Gorge, Grain de Malice) where he sees the urgency of retail transformation. “It’s an environment where, unfortunately, they don’t know how to make decisions at the right time. I won’t say they have too much impact…but they aren’t data-centric enough. They have to make the decision to cut off their arm so the body can hold on… but they don’t. And yet they are very clear, they work with the best analysts and they understand the situation.”

Then Scalapay comes at lightning speed. They come out of nowhere and achieve unicorn status in just three years. Pingki Houang comes to the pits again via a meeting. A friend who helped Scalapay asks Pingki for his opinion on the three-part payment. “I told him listen, don’t look… it’s going to explode! »

He is even interested in meeting the founder with the idea of ​​investing in the company. He will eventually find himself aboard the rocket. Scalapay’s mission is to provide customers with the smoothest shopping experience. Notably, this includes a split payment (in three installments) that ultimately allows merchants to increase conversion rate, average shopping cart, and loyalty.

Here, too, Pingki Houang comes into the company with his mantra of ” everything is possible “ ! After reaching a valuation of more than a billion in three years, he comes with the ambition to multiply that valuation by five. You don’t recover if you have hypergrowth in your blood. However, the current situation prompts him to review the copy.
“The plan remains the sameassures Pingki.But it will just take a little longer.” The common thread of this whole story? Meetings that mark Pingki Houang’s journey… where shared values ​​are a key criterion.

“The other common thread is that I try not to work too muchhe admits with a smile. So I’m pursuing my passions, and it doesn’t look like a job at all.

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