“I think that the Senegalese entrepreneurial environment is not the most adequate, we also have social realities. I do not know if I can generalize on this subject but it is very difficult socially to explain to the family what entrepreneurship is. She understands that you go out every day, so you disappear concretely, you do something, concretely you have to bring in money. There are also sometimes these questions to be decided between the social charges which are very heavy in Senegal, the social implications, the social expectations ”
Can you introduce yourself ?
I’m Babacar Lo. I’m trying to define myself as a serial entrepreneur even if I don’t think I deserve this title yet. I am the founder of “CYBARC” which is a “Legal Process Outsourcing” firm specializing in legal intelligence processes. CYBARC has existed for 3 years, soon 4. I am a lawyer by training. I have a master’s degree in law, a DEA in law, a DSS in law and I signed up for a doctorate in law. I tried to get through the barrot and failed, but it is a course that I intend to cross.
Where did this desire to start come from?
At the start I admit that I was not even in an entrepreneurial logic. All that motivated me in 2010 was the desire to create a site. At the time, I was in a local 2S2I and I observed real needs on our local market, particularly in terms of E-commerce platform. I also saw how this sector was evolving in France. I saw a lot of opportunities related to this sector. One day I received a call from the marketing director of a local company following a prospecting email I had sent. I think that’s when it started, but I admit that at the time I was not interested in this sector by positioning myself as an entrepreneur. It was the starting point for everything and since then I have never left this road.
Tell us about your CYBARC business. What is your activity sector ? What solutions do you offer? What need / problem do you meet?
CYBARC is an entity which aims to provide legal intelligence solutions. What is meant by legal intelligence is the highest level of processing of legal information. We first provide computerized solutions that will facilitate the management of legal risks in companies, whether small or large; day by day. It is in this sense that we have developed a software suite composed of contract management software, litigation management software and a mobile application. Our goal is to assist companies of all sizes in their desire to cover all of the applications of their activities in terms of facts and legal acts. We allow them to have a clear visibility on the legal risks they run. Our activity is structured for the moment in four (4) main areas: the provision of computerized legal solutions, the provision of legal training services, legal support services and finally the supply of a legal database that we we want to make the most of it, in particular through the legal information solutions that we are developing. We want to make this last axis our core business.
Have any difficulties been encountered since the launch of Cybarc Consulting?
Since the start we have had a set of problems. It is true that things are looking good at the moment, but there are a number of difficulties that we have had to overcome. For example the difficulty of quickly finding a viable economic model. At the beginning we focused on a computerized solution and apparently it was not the best approach. The impression that we got was that the managerial environment of Senegal (Dakar) was not yet ready or did not see the added value of computerized legal solutions in their activities. We had to change our approach and rather put the legal support forward and the computerized solutions in support. It’s apparently the angle that seems to work. However, we are convinced that legal solutions can be automated to such an extent that anyone, whether a lawyer or not, can, in particular by relying on our solutions, draw up an end-to-end contract. Our solutions can effectively, on the basis of a few filters, determine all of the user’s needs and then offer them contract models related to their needs.
A second major problem we had to face was the network infrastructure. We quickly realized that deployment by acquiring a license did not allow us to reach one of the target segments that interested us, startups and PME / PMI. It was necessary to propose a much more suitable solution. We then thought of cloud solutions but the difficulty arose of finding a local partner with the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the data to be stored. We wanted the storage of sensitive information of these companies to be done locally and in order to guarantee maximum security. It was a question of value, of position. We are currently on the right track to be able to offer optimal cloud solutions shortly. We will therefore be able to approach these target segments which really interest us and which every day are asking legal questions, every day have needs in the creation of contracts or in the management of their contractual activities. These startups, PME / PMI sometimes do not deem necessary or consider out of reach the fact of recruiting a lawyer or calling on a law firm whereas if they do not manage to have an adequate answer to a legal question that can have dire consequences for their business.
In short, these are the challenges that arise and that we are tackling as best we can. We are very confident.
Do you have co-founders?
I founded CYBARC on my own and I think it was one of the biggest weaknesses of the company. The fact that I was alone at the start and that I struggled a lot to find a partner made me accuse of slowness. I actually searched during these 3 years, to see several partners and I tried four times with different approaches but it did not work. I also think it can be one of the most complex things for an entrepreneur, finding the right co-founder. I have not had this chance but currently I have a partner with whom an association is envisaged. However, to this day I remain the only founder and I think it is a big mistake to start alone, it is better to find the right co-founders at launch.
How many jobs have you created?
As we evolve, we cannot say that we really created jobs because we could not stabilize them. In three years, all the jobs we created were temporary since our recruitment approach was focused on a sales force. So we had a sales team made up of six (6) sales people for six (6) months and thirteen (13) developers. We realized that this was not the right approach now, we are focusing on a business developer. Currently, two stable jobs have been created at Cybarc Consulting.
What challenges do you face on a daily basis as an entrepreneur?
First of all I will say the management of daily stress in relation to the entries that must be made. When you work, there are many sources of stress; knowing that we have deadlines compared to suppliers, customers who have to pay but are late, employees to pay on time, etc. I think that this stress is the biggest challenge which we have to fight against because we have to develop a form of will on a daily basis, a form of desire to fight and sometimes this stress hinders this will to do and create something. But beyond that there is also the environment. I think that the Senegalese entrepreneurial environment is not the most adequate, we also have social realities. I do not know if I can generalize on this subject but it is very difficult socially to explain to the family what entrepreneurship is. She understands that you go out every day, so you disappear concretely, you do something, concretely you have to bring in money. There are also sometimes these questions to decide between the social charges which are very heavy in Senegal, the social implications, the social expectations, the family which is not nuclear here which is very large. All this makes it not easy to be an entrepreneur in Senegal, but whatever the obstacles we face.
A flagship product?
We haven’t found THE right model yet, but we’re looking for it. Today our expectations are mainly focused on the cloud. When we talk about a license to an SME even if it sees an interest in it, it’s a safe bet that it does not invest its millions on it. It remains a big investment for this type of structure. On a large investment, you do not measure the return immediately, you do not see the value added in the weeks following the purchase. We are therefore in the process of restructuring our offer, to adapt more to local realities. How to provide this legal support? How can we provide our clients with access to these legal solutions while allowing them to see the immediate impact and added value on their business with the most suitable economic model? Here are the questions to which we are looking for concrete answers. We do not yet have a market fit product, a finished product that speaks directly to the target but we are working on it.
Have you experienced disappointments?
Yes. The entrepreneurial adventure goes hand in hand with disappointments. I remember the first situation I had when I started my box. I got the call from this famous marketing director of a local company. After hanging up I danced in the bathroom, I went out to go back to my desk but I couldn’t concentrate anymore because in my head it exploded. The next day I submitted my resignation; two weeks later I had created the legal form for my box; three weeks later I realized that it was not because I had received the call from this marketing director that I had a contract and there I had just put my foot in the realities of entrepreneurship. It’s the first lesson I learned. Besides, we are in the process of producing a document called “the legal guide for the Senegalese entrepreneur”. It is not because you have an idea, an opportunity that you should immediately create a legal form and formalize your start of business. It was one of my first disappointments. I then had disappointments in relation to suppliers whom I trusted, in relation to recruitments, in relation to the commitment which was expected and announced at the outset by my employees, disappointments in relation to poor choices of associates. But I think it all goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship. Above all, you have to know how to recover from these disappointments, know not to keep the negative but to follow a logic where you can take advantage of it and move forward.
How long have you been incubated at CTIC Dakar? Your feelings?
It’s going to be a year soon and I have a great experience. First of all, a great human experience with the CTIC Dakar team, with whom the relationship is not intrinsically linked to this question of business and the development of our companies. We feel their personal, emotional commitment in our activities and it is very touching. There were really beautiful moments that were experienced with the CTIC Dakar team. Beyond the team, there are very nice meetings, great prospects that arose with other entrepreneurs thanks to the existing ecosystem within the incubator.
We are working on the redesign of our website: cybarc-lpo.com and we will soon make available a platform for downloading free contract models and a legal forum. As part of the team, we are looking at how to implement this in the best way and we are very enthusiastic about this idea.
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