Nicolas Bailliache, eStreamly
Born in France to entrepreneur parents, Nicolas Baillaiche learned the value of having a community of fellow business owners. But when he left his corporate career in sales and founded eStreamly, he was bombarded with opinions. Nicolas didn't take this constructive criticism personally but used it to inspire action. With the help of his business partner, he's learned to accept feedback and adapt his game plan but ultimately trust his gut.
Episode 43 – Nicolas Bailliache, eStreamly
[00:00:55] Sanjay Parekh: Nicolas Bailliache was born in France but made his way to the US — with a stop in Brazil — through his work in sales and business development. In December 2020, Nicolas left his corporate job and started eStreamly, a live video commerce Software-as-a-Service platform empowering brands, retailers, and creators to engage with shoppers. Here today to talk about his international work experiences, his passion for sales, and love of natural food, is Nicolas Bailliache. Nicolas, welcome to the show!
[00:01:28] Nicolas Bailliache: Hi. Thank you, Sanjay. So excited to be here.
[00:01:31] Sanjay Parekh: So, I'd love for you to give us a little bit about your background, and kind what got you to the point that you're at right now.
[00:01:37] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, so my parents were entrepreneurs. I think, if I look back at the older generation, they were all entrepreneurs in the fish industry. And, when I was seven, I started to be on the back of the truck to sell fish myself, from seven on and really realizing that first of all, I love to sell, but I don't love to have my hands on the ice. And so, from that standpoint, I started to look for what's the warmer place to be. So, I made a crochet by the UK where I found out that it was not warmer there, then went to Africa, Brazil, and now I’m in the US. And through that journey I got to experience from a lens of food perspective. So had a chance to work on different aspects of the food supply chain. And on the sales side, from B2C to, D2D, to supermarkets, to direct to consumer and to brands. So, I really got that chance to experience a lot of different things that led me to eStreamly.
[00:02:43] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Do you think that, was it your experience, with your family being in the fish industry, is that what led you to do food stuff afterwards? As you were leaving?
[00:02:54] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, because my parents were obviously, if you want to think about selling fish, so you are close to a farmer's market. So really close to food and also being French, the food culture is very strong, right? So when you are in this entrepreneurial journey, like my parents were, your friends are the butcher, your friend are the guy who, you know, the baker. So, I end up growing around this notion that food was really important and artisanal food was really important and I got to love it. That's kind of led me to that. And then through my international discovery, I found out that, we can find food differently, have an impact on the planet, by working with local farmers that are in other parts of the world and paying them correctly. So, I did a real lot of involvement in organic fair trade that's got me to travel the world, and then led me to work in America.
[00:03:57] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. It's interesting you mentioned that your parents were entrepreneurs going back as well. Were there any kind of standout lessons to you that you remember to this day of seeing them as entrepreneurs?
[00:04:13] Nicolas Bailliache: Entrepreneur is a hard job. It's really hard. I think, you can be very successful then the next day, not be successful anymore. So that's, I mean success is something, but it's a lot of hard work and effort and it’s constant. So, I think if you want to be an entrepreneur, you know, it's a lot of joy and fun, but it's a lot of stress and hard work, and if you're not ready for that, then you're probably, it's good to stay on your day job.
[00:04:42] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Yeah. So, talking about day jobs, you had a day job and then decided to leave and go full-time into starting your company. What was that? What caused you to make that jump and what are you doing now?
[00:04:58] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, so I did an MBA at Emory in 2016. And then when I joined Emory, my goals were very clear. I wanted to be a more - how do you call it? Have executive presence. It's something that I think, you know, is very important in America. I was French, coming from Brazil and some of those other places, my executive presence was like near zero. So, I figured that having an MBA would be great.
And then through that journey I realized that the MBA really opened up my mind. And seeing that while there is other thing, that is also really exciting. And I think, as any entrepreneur, and I remember like when someone was posting on LinkedIn recently, oh, at your corporate job you're making good money and you'll keep progressing, making good money.
And then you think that when you go entrepreneur, you're going to explode your bank account and all that. And then you realize that's not actually the case. But that's really what drives me is like hey, I can take on my own destiny, my own life and do something that I love and that I'm really passionate about. And it was not about being my own boss for me, but it was really overcoming fears and challenges and being able to expose myself to things that I have no clue about.
[00:06:19] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. So, tell us, what is eStreamly and why you decided to do that?
[00:06:24] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, so eStreamly is a live and video commerce platform. So, what we do is we enable brands, creators, entrepreneurs, as you say, to get into a live event and then through the live event, people can actually shop directly from the video without ever leaving the video. So, it's notion that, 80% of the internet today consuming video. You know, that's how people consume video, but yet there's no good way to shop from that video. So, what we did is that we basically embedded payment directly on video and then, among other things, like chat and all that. And so, you can actually do a livestream, engage, shop. Or upload video content and then shop. So that's what it is, shopable video.
[00:07:06] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Why this idea? Why did you decide to do this and where did the idea come from?
[00:07:11] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah. On my previous job I was, working for this company called Naturex. We were in the food business and, I was helping brands of all sizes to remove artificial ingredients from the food supply chain and replacing them with natural products. And I got to grow this business like crazy. We started at $700K and I pushed it to $40 million. And I got to work with all size of businesses, like from Coca-Cola to Tyson, to Dannon, to Proctor & Gamble, to the mom-and-pop shops and all that. And I really realized that, in this day and age, there's really two-channel distribution, right? You can distribute to supermarkets if you have the connection and the money, or you can go online and try to sell online. But the problem with selling online is that, how do you exist online, right? You need to know picture and text and all that. That's pretty much what e-commerce is about. But someone like me, I'm really bad at making good pictures and good texts. Put me in the video and let me chat with someone and I'll probably be okay with selling them something. So, I figured, let's say, how do I enable that into a digital environment? How do we bring people at the center of commerce? And that led me to the journey. In 2018, I met my co-founder and then for four years — not four years, like two years, sorry. We looked at different things technology-wise, blockchain, VR, and so on. And we landed on live streaming and that's how we got to launch this.
[00:08:41] Sanjay Parekh: So, okay, so you started just you and your co-founder. How did you start building this? Was this writing code yourselves? Is it piecing together pieces that are out there? How did you get this going?
[00:08:53] Nicolas Bailliache: So, my co-founder, like the chance I had, she used to be a technology partner for a lot of startups, building technology for others. So, she had a team of dev and all that. And she loves great challenges. And I love to bring new challenges to people as well and I get that. So, we got along well very quickly. So, we had the idea, I think it was in mid-December and by January 1st, I think she had like some sort of a prototype. It was a really bad prototype, but she said, I think I can do it. We didn't realize it will take two years to do it, but because in two weeks you get something and then now it's two years of work to get it where it's actually really cool. But no, that's how we did it. And so, we did that and then, you know, hired some folks along the line and then started working on this. And so, I was more on the business side, outreach with customers and she was really hands-on on the tech side and trying to make it happen from a technology perspective.
[00:09:56] Sanjay Parekh: So, it sounds like a good marriage between the two of you. You're on the business side, she's on the tech side. So, in terms of you, how has your background and experience of working in all of these different countries influenced you and how you run this business, or has it?
[00:10:16] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah. I think, you know, it's funny you say that. The clients we work with today, there is competition in this space, and they come to us because we tend to listen to folks. We tend to pay attention to what they're saying, what's the challenge they're having and how we can work together to make it happen. And I think that really shaped me through my different experiences, internationally and everything, right? It's not like a one-size-fits-all. It doesn't exist. And it's really more about okay, what's your real need? What's your real problem? How can we solve your problem? Can we eventually solve your problem? Because in many cases, we can't. And so that's really being able to do that and not trying to force a product that's like, hey that’s the way it is. And if you're not happy, that's the way it is. But it's more okay, how do we retrofit what we have to make it a solution as opposed to, a plug-and-play kind of thing.
[00:11:11] Sanjay Parekh: Right. So, that's interesting. So, definitely a lot of that is missing out in the marketplace because it's usually a take it or leave it type of thing, especially as organizations get big and I think you're at a size where you have that ability to really cater. So, start talking about maybe, you know, when you started this, it's been a couple of years now, right?
So maybe you're now at the point where you're like, okay I see a product market fit. You see people using it, but there's probably things that scare you now, still, and there's probably a lot more that scared you a couple of years ago when you were starting out. What were some of those things that scared you and how did you overcome those fears?
[00:11:53] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, I think the thing that scared me right at the beginning, I think we were blind enough not to feel there was anything that was scary. Myself and my co-founder, we said oh, this is going to be the next great thing. Let's do it and we'll figure it out. So, we didn't have any fear. I think the fear was always like, hey, let's make sure that at some point we will be able to sustain ourselves and sustain the family that we have.
Now if I look at it now as like, obviously, I don't think there's any market where you have the best idea and that's going to run everyone now. So, it's more about okay, how do you manage what you've built, at the size you’ve built it, with the resources you have? And then, don't get out-competed by the competition that has more money or different things. For us it comes down to we need to be really, really good at listening to customers. And our fear is really can we find the right customers that want to do that, be successful with them and move them along as fast as possible before they get reached out by a bigger brand. The real fear is that the competition aspect of it is stressful.
[00:13:17] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. When you were starting out, how did you guys fund yourselves? Was this all a bootstrap thing? Have you raised money? How have you made it all work?
[00:13:28] Nicolas Bailliache: So, there's an official version and an unofficial version. So, the official version is we're fully boot strapped, which is true. The unofficial version is that, in 2018 when I met my co-founder, I met her at the blockchain hackathon. And I think I was very interested in blockchain at the time, and I put some money there and then I got lucky. Folks will tell you that this is not luck. It's about science and knowing, but I think it was purely luck. So, we got a good chunk of money and then that money was what funded the company. Obviously right now saying it's, we are blockchain funded is definitely not like, the hype that it was. That's why it's the unofficial, but a big chunk of the money was coming from that kind of investment.
[00:14:19] Sanjay Parekh: So, good to get out before everything imploded, and probably in retrospect good that you started a company when you did do to make you withdraw that money before it imploded.
[00:14:29] Nicolas Bailliache: Although, that's where you say it's really luck because I didn't take enough out because now, you know, it's like, with the market being down and everything, but it's going to come back. I have good faith in this technology.
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[00:15:07] Sanjay Parekh: Let's talk a little bit about your sales background. You know, you've done sales and interacted with people, but it's been mainly in the food industry. How has that shaped how you run eStreamly and interact with these customers? Have a lot of your customers been from the industries that you've dealt with before or have you gone off and just found new customers in other industries?
[00:15:30] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, you know, when you are in sales, you say that your biggest asset is your list of contacts, right? And that is true. I unfortunately, never had the chance to live off of that, I will say, because I, having lived in different countries, every time you start from scratch again. And starting eStreamly, even though I met with and worked with some of the top CPG brands in the world, I start again from scratch because my contacts are in the R and D and procurement side from my previous job. And here I'm talking to marketers, and this is completely new. I don't know how to talk, I had to learn about how to talk to marketers. I had to learn also that R and D and procurement people don't really talk to marketers, so they are not willing to make much intro, really. So, I had to get everything from scratch. So, I think what I have learned through the food side is that, selling food is technical sales in some way. Because you are not selling an experience or anything, you are selling, at least from where I was coming from, I was selling like a technicality, right? Okay, if you use this ingredient, it's going to do this differently than using that one and you can make this and that, and so it's very technical sales. And so, I have taken a very technical approach to the sales of eStreamly as well, which, surprisingly has been working. And that's what people have liked about me and say, at least when we talk to you, we think that you know what you're doing. I'm not sure it's true though, but at least that's the appearance, so that's good.
[00:17:27] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Yeah. That's interesting because you would think that the sale to marketing people would be more fuzzy, right? It's going to let you do this, that and the other, and not a technical sale. Why do you think that's hit, that they like the technical sale? Is it because they don't get it usually? Or is it something else?
[00:17:46] Nicolas Bailliache: I think you have to play with your strengths, right? So, I am not a marketer personally, so talking to marketers is a whole new language. And so, I could say, okay, you know what? I can either learn that and be a marketer within the marketer and try to swim with the same fish. Or I can be who I am, and then talking the way I always have approached it. And so that's what I've done. So, it's actually really interesting, talking to marketers and trying to take the technical approach to it.
It's not an eat-run at all the time, so you have to adapt and everything. But that's what has been working for me. And I feel that you know, if I were to talk the marketing language it would be a little, you know, an overkill, I won't say an overkill, but a fake because that's not how I do things. And so, it would've been difficult for me.
[00:18:47] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. You know, play to your own strengths. Let's switch gears a little bit and talk about stress and, and the demands on starting up. Especially in these early years it's tough and it's a lot of work. How do you balance that with the demands of family and friends and spending time in those places?
[00:19:11] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, I think it's important to realize that, when you launch something, first of all what you see on Twitter where everyone's going to be successful from day one, raise millions of dollars and then going to be like this huge company that's going to be on Forbes 100 next day. That only exists on Twitter. It's work, right? It's work. It's hard work. It's difficult. People are going to tell you 10 times no, they're going to tell you why your product is bad, why everything you do is bad, why you don't even talk the right way and everything. They will tell you all the bad things you can imagine. But I think for me it's been about like, so the way I've handled that is, trying to really dissociate everything. So, you have the work time, which is basically, I will wake up early in the morning, get the kids ready, which is family time. And then at 7:30 I'll say I start to work, by 4:00 I stop and then I go to family time. And when everyone is in bed, I go back to work again. And then the weekend I only dedicate to the family and maybe we work on the weekend. But this is how I overcome and make the balance between everything.
It's important to dissociate the fact that, people will scoot around you, and they will tell you advice and all that. And so how do you balance between a friend telling you something that is, just because he is a friend and doesn't really understand. And then what's the real advice? So that's also a big challenge because, if you listen to 10 people and they will tell you 10 different opinions and you have to make your own opinions out of that, and which one do you listen and everything.
So, the balance is about just being open to all this criticism and all this advice, and everyone knows better than you. And at the end, you are the one doing it. So, you have to make the cut and making it, and it's important to give space to everyone. So, they feel that you listen. And I think that's how I've done it so far. It's not easy, but it's really fun. I honestly, I hope I'm not coming as cranky or anything, but I really enjoy it personally. It's really fun and gives me a lot of joy.
[00:21:35] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. On that note, like I, if you could go back in time, it's only been two years of time, but if you could go back in time, is there anything you'd do differently? And if so, what?
[00:21:50] Nicolas Bailliache: I think that if I could go back in time and have the learning that I got for those two years, then I would be much more efficient. But if I go back in time and I don't have any of the learning with me, then it would be really tough. Because I think the most important is you have to be ready to learn along the way. And that's a big important thing. Like, if I look at the competition for instance, right now, their approach has been probably smarter. Because they say, okay, you know what we are going to do the least amount of technology that's going to achieve the biggest impact, the fastest. And for us, we went to an approach which was we're going to make something that really makes sense, that people want to use. The problem is that all of a sudden, it's much more work and much more complicated than it could have been. But now we are seeing the benefit right now. And then we are banking on those benefits where others are left in the dust. But in the way they have raised, they have been able to amass a lot of money and you know, so that's the downside of it. It's like, how do you go between speed, like that balance between speed and product execution. It's really a difficult balance. And I think if I could go back, I'll probably tune down a little bit the product, but not so much, just a little bit. So, I get a little bit more speed, and then achieve and be at a slightly better position than where I am today.
[00:23:36] Sanjay Parekh: Do you feel like, what you did was maybe you tried to develop a product that was too much into the future. Like we talk about MVP, right? Minimal viable product. It sounds like what you're saying is, you didn't go for the MVP, went MVP plus, like you went just a little bit more and then maybe you should have pulled in a little bit.
[00:23:58] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, I don't think we went with, you know, that notion of like, non-MVP and MVP plus and everything. I think we probably had a vision of what we wanted this to do. And then at some point we could have, I won't say took shortcuts, but we could have said, you know what? Let's put this, element a little bit later in the roadmap. So, let's validate those things first and that and that. So that's kind of, that is the challenge. But again I think where we are today is because we've done that the way we've done, and that's the uniqueness of our product compared to anything on the market is because we have taken that product approach. It's also the weakness. That's why it's difficult to balance it out. I think we will know in two years from now if it was the right call, or if it was a really terrible call. You know, TBD.
[00:25:11] Sanjay Parekh: But it sounds very much like you deferred early short-term growth for the long-term kind of like, this is what it should be. And we're willing to wait to get there.
[00:25:25] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah. And also because we, in some way we had our own funding, we were not looking at, hey, let's get good numbers so we can go to an investor, get five or 10 million there, and show, hey, look at how great we are. And we always felt that we needed to show the real thing from, actual real work. And that's hard. But what we realized, the other big learning we got for that journey, it's sometimes it's easier to sell a dream than to sell an actual thing when it's running. From an investor perspective, right? So right now, we have a product. So now to be able to achieve some of that fundraising and you have to really deliver awesome numbers, awesome things. And so, we are getting toward that. So that's where the stretch is. And I would have loved to, to tune down a couple things if I could go back. At the end of the day, there's no perfect path. There's probably one that is faster than the other for sure. And I'm a big believer in resiliency and, and just keep on beating the drum, you know? And in five years from now, we'll probably be still there. And we'll be drumming and even if we have no money, we'll probably keep running to it because I know at some point it’s going to be working. And that's what's going to differentiate us at the end.
[00:26:59] Sanjay Parekh: So, last piece of advice, from you. Then I've got one more question after this, but what would you tell somebody who's thinking about taking the leap to turn their side hustle into a full-time thing. What would you tell them?
[00:27:13] Nicolas Bailliache: I will tell them is that first of all, don't do it for the money. That's important. And if you are really passionate about it and you really think you are onto something, just do it. I think, at the end of the day, it's the learning of just experimenting itself, getting challenged, getting to market, trying to grow it yourself. Hire your first folks. Implement those, the structure around it and everything. It's just fascinating and I’m excited. It's stressful. My wife still doesn’t understand what I'm doing. But at the end it's part of it, right? It's really cool. I will really encourage anyone to do that, but I think, at the end of the day, what's really important, I think it's that resiliency and just being consistent, right? If you go for it, it's going to be tough and just know that's going to be tough.
And then when it’s tough, don't give up. Just keep at it. Because at the end of the day, the difference between, I think success and nonsuccess is the people that give up in between. Because I think we can all be successful. It's a matter of, because people will tell you, like when you do wrong, they tell you like how to adjust to be better. And so, if you listen and then you make those adjustments and then you keep at it, it's going to work out.
[00:28:46] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. I love that. Okay, my last question for you, which is a piece of advice, you’re a natural food enthusiast. Is there some food that most people don't know about that you just absolutely love? Or is there a recipe that you absolutely love that everybody should know about?
[00:29:04] Nicolas Bailliache: Oh, there are some ingredients on the food side that I'm absolutely passionate about.
[00:29:12] Sanjay Parekh: Let's hear them, let's get the secrets out.
[00:29:15] Nicolas Bailliache: You know, in my previous company, we were replacing chemicals, by plants and there are some plants that are just fantastic. You know, one of them that comes to mind is rosemary. Rosemary, like whenever you know, food is a combination of protein, water, fat, and sugar, right? But the fat tends to turn rancid and then have a taste. And then rosemary is what we were using pretty much everywhere to stabilize that and then it doesn't have that taste. And so, it replaced most of the chemical out there that are really harmful for your health, and you can do it with rosemary. It just does wonders. So, this is like one of those that's really cool.
And then I'm a big fan also of another one that is interesting. It's called quillay, it’s a tree from Chile that has the ability to emulsify, make emulsions and all that. So really technical ingredients again, but, really, really fun ingredients to play with. And yeah, and when I think about food for me it's about like, how local can you be? Like where can you get your food? Can you work with a local restaurant, or can you work with, a local farmer and everything, because that's where you're going to have the biggest impact. And so, for me, that's, you know, aside of the ingredient itself, what I'm always trying to get to is, who can get my product as close as possible from my house? So, I have an impact on the environment and on the farm itself.
[00:30:56] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. That's fantastic. I love it. Okay, Nicolas, where can our listeners find and connect with you online?
[00:31:03] Nicolas Bailliache: Yeah, so, our website is called eStreamly.com. And they can find me on LinkedIn. I'm a Nicolas Bailliache. I'm pretty active there. A little bit on Twitter, but mostly on LinkedIn and on my website. And you can reach out. There's, you know, calendar and all that. You can reach out to me there.
[00:31:26] Sanjay Parekh: Awesome. Excellent. Thanks for coming on the show today.
[00:31:28] Nicolas Bailliache: Oh, awesome. It was great to have you.
[00:31:35] Sanjay Parekh: Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the Side Hustle to Small Business Podcast, powered by Hiscox. To learn more about how Hiscox can help protect your small business through intelligent insurance solutions, visit hiscox.com. And if you have a story you want to hear on this podcast, please visit www.hiscox.com/shareyourstory. I'm your host Sanjay Parekh. You can find me on Twitter @sanjay or on my website at www.sanjayparekh.com.