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VV Show #21 - Fabrice Grinda of Zingy

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Fabrice Grinda

If you think the ringtone business is for kids, then Fabrice Grinda has a $130 million lesson to teach you. After starting the eBays of Europe and Latin America, Fabrice brought the ringtone business concept to America by starting Zingy. We caught up with Fabrice, now 31 and a millionaire several times over, just a couple of hours before he finished his last day at the helm of Zingy. While his possessions were in boxes, he put all of his cards on the table by telling us his net worth at every stage of the game. He’s risked all of his resources in the past for his ventures, but will he do it again? Listen to hear his plans.

Update (4/16/08): Fabrice announced on the Venture Voice blog that he's launched a new online classified business called OLX that's been dubbed a Facebook killer. OLX recently raised $13.5 million in venture funding.

Show notes:

1:15 Becoming an entrepreneur

  • Born in Paris, grew up in Nice.
  • Attended Princeton.
  • Made several hundred thousand dollars by arbitraging computers between the US and France.

6:30 Types of entrepreneurs
  • “I’m not very creative.”
  • “On paper I look more like a businessman than an entrepreneur, just so happens that I’d rather not work for anyone else, and that’s why I’m an entrepreneur.”

7:15 Out of college
  • Worked at McKinsey & Company.
  • “After two years at McKinsey I realized that my goal in life was not to write a perfect PowerPoint presentation.”

9:30 Selection criteria for business
  • Fabrice lists his criteria in this blog post.

13:00 Started Aucland in Europe and Deremate in Latin America
  • “It’s incredible how unsavvy a lot of the French entrepreneurs were with regards to PR.”
  • “I feel that it’s often better to make the wrong decision, and maybe fix it over time as you realize you made the wrong decision, then making no decision at all.”

22:30 Doing business in France

23:45 Investor follies

  • Aucland was funded by Bernard Arnault, France’s richest individual.
  • “The guy’s worth $18 billion, he doesn’t really care about making another $100 or $200 million.”

27:00 Picking the next venture
  • “I had to become an entrepreneur again.”
  • Found Jamba! was doing well selling ringtones in Germany, but no one was doing it in the U.S.
  • Got the idea for Zingy.
  • “I invested every last penny I had in [Zingy]. I didn’t mean to.”

32:30 Missing payroll
  • “I kept making silly excuses to employees... they had heard it before.”

33:30 Seeds of success
  • “It wasn’t really working because charging people by credit card is not a great model, especially when your consumers are teenagers and don’t have credit cards.”
  • “I bought a deal with Microsoft.”
  • “Finally, on August 15th, 2003, the check from Sprint arrives. And the first check from Sprint is like half-a-million dollars.”

39:30 When to cash out
  • “I still have no money in my bank account.”
  • “Then I’m like: ‘You know what, stop this, we’re not fund raising, we’re just growing the company.’”
  • “The investment bank can be the bad guy.”
  • Sold company for $80 million to a Japanese company.
  • “So I sell the company and blow out all the numbers that we ever expected to blow.”
  • Acquired Vindigo.

46:30 Quitting Zingy, moving on
  • Traveling around the world.
  • “I’m keeping my eyes open for the next big idea.”

48:50 Style
  • “The objective at the end of the day is to have fun and build a great business.”
  • “Most people that build businesses to make money end up loosing because they’re not willing to sacrifice it all.”
  • “We’re at the very beginning of the Internet revolution.”

Posted by Greg Galant on Dec 8, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (2)

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» Catching Up on VentureVoice from Explorations
Somehow, I've gotten way behind in listening to Venture Voice, one of the best podcasts out there. I'm planning on catching up over the next few days, and I'll post standout episodes here. I just finished show #21, with Fabrice [Read More]

Tracked on February 28, 2006 9:55 PM

» 9 business selection criteria from bizhack
I recently heard the Venture Voice episode with Fabrice Grinda, recently of Zingy. Here are his 9 rules for selecting new business opportunities. Worth checking out - Fabrice is an extremely clueful and business-savvy entrepreneur. ... [Read More]

Tracked on April 17, 2006 2:11 AM


Thanks for the great show. Amongst all the podcasts covering entrepreneurship, Yours always has the best content. Iam looking forward to adding Fabrice's blog feed to my reader.

Thanks again for the great show. Keep it up!


Posted by: Sunder at December 10, 2005 12:08 PM

Great interview! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Detrick at December 12, 2005 4:53 AM

one of the very best of VV

keep it up

Posted by: aks at December 12, 2005 6:42 AM

Great to see that Fabrice got back in business after being outsed from Aucland. Some people are just born for business :-)

Posted by: Fred at December 15, 2005 8:33 AM

Fabrice you’re an inspiration to us budding entrepreneurs thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and wisdom.

Posted by: Wayne Lambright at December 15, 2005 8:37 PM

Very enlightening and entertaining interview. Greg, Fabrice, thanks.

Posted by: Gerard Grech at December 20, 2005 4:42 PM

This is by far one of the best interviews I have ever heard!!!


Posted by: Felipe C at December 23, 2005 10:50 AM

I know Fabrice for a while and he is the most impressive entrepreneur I ever met. he's born to execute and win.

Posted by: Thomas at December 28, 2005 1:47 PM

I have to agree, this show was definitely a stand out of excellence, by far the best show this far.
And that is no mean feat considering most shows have been excellent.

..now, it's been over a month since the last one, where are you? :)

Posted by: Wille at January 17, 2006 5:12 PM

Hi There Greg,

Venture Voice is a wonderful baby you have given birth to. I really enjoy listening to these people that you interview. Thanks for making their lives and success stories accessible to people on the street with similiar aspirations to become an entrepreneur.

I have listened to all of your shows except for no.24. My favorite show is the one with Fabrice. He is so vocal and so clear.

Fabrice if you are reading this, you are an inspiration Man!

And to Greg, I salute you, you are one of my SuperHeroes too! Thanks for this service to the world where many are chained to their jobs and financial worry.

More power to you and Venture Voice and to Fabrice's future plans!!!!

BizMonk MJ

Posted by: BizMonk MJ at January 21, 2006 8:16 AM

I've been listening to VV for a while. I almost passed up the 'Zingy' show until this morning. Big mistake on my part. This was certainly one of the best vv shows. Glad to have someone who's a self proclaimed opportunist go through his criteria.

I've sent my partner and a couple of staff a link and a request to listen to the show. I'll be interested to hear what they think of it.
Jeff Barson, Nimble

Posted by: Jeff Barson at February 28, 2006 4:59 PM

I wonder if Fabrice Grinda would be interested by acquiring RadioLiner technology.


Seems they are selling their company.

Posted by: Sophie at June 13, 2007 5:30 PM

This is my favorite interview by far. Keep them coming.

Posted by: ceasor at January 6, 2009 1:40 PM

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