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From Investment banking to digital entrepreneur

Amina has a strong interest for entrepreneurship, finance and technology. Le Wagon helped her to realize that she could combine these interests by launching her own company, and provided a network she could rely on to make her initiative a success. Amina is from batch #149 in Bali and launched her company Zaina.io just months after graduating from Le Wagon.

From Investment banking to digital entrepreneur
Featuring graduate Amina Sagou Founder in Zaina.io More about Amina
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Zaina.io aims to help small businesses and SMEs operating in Morocco get access to financing. Raising money (either in debt or equity) for a small business is not an easy thing to do, especially in emerging countries. The service provided by Zaina.io is usually provided to larger companies by investment banks. “Our product simplifies the processes and brings a high quality service to those who need it the most,” she said. 

Although Zaina.io’s market is targeted at Morocco where she is originally from, Amina is based in Paris, where she obtained a Master’s degree in Corporate Finance, and worked in Mergers and Acquisitions consulting focusing on fast growing European technology companies. Also home to LeWagon HQ, “the start-up ecosystem is rich and powerful in Paris” she said, “rubbing shoulders daily with highly successful entrepreneurs analyzing their products and markets has opened my eyes to the impact and power of technology to make real changes ”. Today, 3 full-time people are dedicated to Zaina.io, surrounded by talented consultants in coding, web-marketing etc.

More and more we’re beginning to see how the job landscape is transforming. Amina is one of the many alumni we have that come from a corporate background and choose to pursue something entirely different. Before starting her company Zaina.io and embarking on her Le Wagon journey, she worked as an investment banker for 5 years, advising amazing technology companies on their fundraisings and sales processes. This adventure triggered her strong will to be on the other side of what she used to do daily. First, it was out of pure curiosity for her to join Le Wagon, as she just wanted to learn a new skill. “Technology impacts our daily lives, how we live, how we work. So I was curious to know about how this was working” she said. She now hopes that Zaina.io can be a useful and growing solution to small businesses' financial needs. “Advising European technology companies on their fundraisings was my expertise, but I wanted to bring this expertise it to a whole new market,” she said.

Life-changing

Le Wagon was “perfectly organized, super-efficient and pragmatic. Above all, it was life-changing for me. It inspired me and raised the strong feeling that it was definitely possible to build my own tech company” Amina wrote in her review of the Bootcamp on Coursereport.

Building Zaina.io, it wasn’t something she was seeking when she went into the Bootcamp. Amina had the concept for it in mind but it wasn’t necessarily a goal to see it come out of the program. Before Le Wagon, she would probably tell you, “I have an idea but it seems like it’s too big, too intimidating and it sounds complicated.” The Bootcamp changed all of that. She discovered that it wasn’t that hard to build the product she was thinking of and developed the first version of it in Bali. Le Wagon definitely kicked it all off. It has not only changed her mindset but it “changed my way of assessing the difficulty of each challenge that comes by around the product or the business” she said, “Today I understand the product, how it works and as my teacher at Le Wagon likes to say, “everything is possible.”

“Discovering how it works, it makes it much more real and easier to reach,” Amina said, “Le Wagon was a trigger to my entrepreneurial mood; it helped to reduce the distance between idea and product."

The gift that keeps giving

What is the extent of Le Wagon’s network? It is not uncommon for alumni to continue to work with each other on projects after the Bootcamp ends. “Another invaluable take away was the experience of working with my campmates and my teachers, which gave me the chance to work with Inou Ridder, the main instructor in Bali at the time” Amina said. Inou graduated from Le Wagon in Amsterdam in 2016 and was one of the instructors in Bali that taught Amina’s batch. He is currently her main developer and acts as a consultant. “He is a real asset today; I trust him a lot from the fact that I spent 2 months of intensive learning from his class. I know that he has strong human values, a very pragmatic way of working, and a lot of talent. He understands the business challenges very well, which highly enhances the quality of his development ideas” she said. She noted how significant this was to her, since hiring and managing developers is an important step when starting a company that includes a digital product.

In terms of networking opportunities for her company, on the product development side, Le Wagon has contributed to 100% of her resources. She also said that our slack channels have been key to her; 9 times out of 10 she finds what she’s looking for on there and it is an incredibly valuable resource (on web marketing or fundraising for example). Le Wagon uses Slack for a myriad of purposes, from posting questions regarding code to communicating with students, to sharing opportunities globally. “I am proud to say that without Le Wagon I wouldn't have been able to push my company forward to try to make my stamp and try to make a difference for our customers,” she said.

What’s next?

Zaina.io recently received a French government subsidy that awards innovative companies. Being a winner of the French Tech Scholarship granted by BpiFrance gives a lot of credibility to her company, and values its innovative approach in the sector. In 5 years, Amina’s target is for Zaina.io to be well established in Morocco, and to start growing in other countries in Africa. She wants Zaina.io to be a key partner for small companies when it comes to getting financing. It’s clear that she is passionate about the industry and wants to contribute to it in a meaningful way. Ultimately, Le Wagon’s mission is to empower people to be able to pursue their ideas in their own way.

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