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From idea to startup: I created my MVP during Le Wagon

Gabriel Poissant is one of Le Wagon Montreal’s pioneering alumni. Over the last 10 days of the bootcamp, he and his team developed a web product that became ZebrasClub, a startup he launched in partnership with his brother Matt.

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Gabriel Poissant is one of Le Wagon Montreal’s pioneering alumni. Over the last 10 days of the bootcamp, he and his team developed a web product that became ZebrasClub, a startup he launched in partnership with his brother Matt.

From referee to developer-entrepreneur

Gabriel, like his brother, made refereeing hockey his job. With 10 years of experience in this field, the two brothers tackled a problem: it is a huge obstacle course to find equipment for referees. The equipment is too expensive and the choice of sizes, products and brands are limited in the specialized or general sporting goods stores. Gabriel saw an opportunity. He took advantage of his final bootcamp project to develop an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) with his team in order to meet this need. ZebrasClub came to life.

The support of a very active entrepreneurial community

Fueled by the desire to be an entrepreneur, he met Martin Duchaîne, Director of Défi Montréal, one of the innovative business accelerator programs in Quebec, and joined their group. For three months, the two aspiring entrepreneurs took advantage of conferences and workshops about online marketing, investing, accounting and the legal aspects of a business. This was exactly one of Gabriel’s biggest challenges, having no training in business development and entrepreneurship. He also found this support in Montreal’s rich and effervescent startup community.

“Montreal is a good place to launch a startup […] there are a lot of meetups every day and you can establish relationships or be referred to other people for help in different areas of expertise”.
On September 19, the two brothers launched Despite a very specific value proposition, the platform has already been successful only two months after going online.

“The advantage of continuing to referee hockey games is that I’m always meeting our target customers and their feedback confirms the interest in our offer”, explained Gabriel.
On the financial side, “We started with some “love money”. Soon, we will seek investment to support our growth objectives. […] Thanks to Défi Montréal, we have more resources and contacts to talk with if we need help or investment.”

The next steps: growth and diversification

For the short term, he wants to continue selling hockey referee equipment and gradually broadening their referee product category to encompass all sports. “We also have some ideas to launch new products”. Over time, he would like to expand his market into all of North America and into Europe. “Right now, the stock is still in my bedroom”, said Gabriel, with a smile on his face. “There are still some challenges to overcome, like handling marketing, delivery and inventory, doing business with suppliers… and managing all that when there are only two of us.¨

How Le Wagon helped in all of this?

“It’s cheesy but it’s true that Le Wagon arms entrepreneurs with some solid technical skills. If you have a project and want to launch a web app, go to Le Wagon and it will definitely help you”.
In addition to providing him this expertise, Le Wagon has been an incredible personal adventure. “I made a lot of friends, and it’s important to say that.” Le Wagon is also a large community of programmers he can count on when he needs help.
Students & teachers, Batch #63

His valuable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs:

Network. Go to meetups, talk about your project, meet experts and make connections. Use the strength of networking.

Short timeline of an entrepreneurial launch:

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