“LBS teaches you that it's all possible. The feeling of potential has stayed with me.”
Jean-Michel Chalayer is where he wants to be in his career. Right now, as one of Forbes Top 30 under 30 with his beauty start-up ‘LeSalon’, things look great for him. But the road to get where he is now hasn’t always been smooth.
“Before I came to London Business School (LBS),” he says, “I never had to face rejection. As an entrepreneur, there’s rejection everywhere. But the support I got at LBS meant I could face it with confidence. With the support from the programme office especially, it’s clear from the beginning that you’re in a special place.”
As an ambitious child, Jean-Michel always knew he wanted to go into business and “do something big”. He credits his experience on the Masters in Management at LBS with opening his eyes to the possibility of being a successful entrepreneur.
After the programme and while working as a management consultant, one of Jean-Michel’s LBS classmates started up ‘LeCab’ – a kind of French Uber. “I saw that my friend was making changes in the world, impacting the way people access services, and I realised I also had to do that. LBS taught me that the amazing things you see people do – they’re opportunities for you, too. The School teaches you that it's all possible. The strongest feeling at LBS is potential, and that’s stayed with me.”
His own potential continues to grow. LeSalon – an app launched in February 2015 to bring beauty treatments to busy professionals – now makes more than 1,000 appointments a month.
When one of Jean-Michel’s advisors – himself a serial entrepreneur – recommended him to Forbes as a contender for one of its 30 Under 30 awards, he went straight through to the final cut. How does he feel to be chosen for the list? “I just love what I’m doing,” he says. “I wake up every day and I’m excited to be doing it.”
The company has consistently made 20% growth every month since its inception. So what’s the recipe for Jean-Michel’s success? “At LBS, I entered another dimension on my first day,” he says. “My world was widened more than I could have imagined and being around so many people doing so many amazing things, it’s impossible not to use that energy for success.”
However, LBS hadn’t always been on Jean-Michel’s horizon. He had offers for a graduate place at a handful of international schools when he plumped for LBS on the advice of his father. “I always ask my dad when I have a decision to make,” he says. “He will help assess pros and cons but will never push for a decision in either direction. But with this, he said, ‘Jean-Michel, if you’ve got LBS, you have to go there.’ So that was that!”