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Interview of Aude Bousser, CEO of LBB Asia and Co-founder of Ubudu Asia “Companies need to be more flexible, rather than clock-watching, they need to focus on results!”

Source: Since graduating from Em Lyon Business School in 1997, Aude Bousser has been based in Hong Kong, beginning her career in the luxury industry. In 2011, she decided to take the leap and set up her own company, LBB Asia. In 2015, she co-founded a second company: Ubudu Asia, a company that was selected, along with four others, for the Business France and BPI France accelerator programme “Impact China”.
In 2013, an article recounted your success story – how did that feel?
I feel great, but it’s not like I invented Google! After 15 years in the corporate world, I have become a very guarded cautious and careful entrepreneur. Aware that distributors across Greater China were disappearing just as the market had an opening for so-called “affordable luxury” brands, I identified a gap in the market. How do you get started when you don’t know the market and you’re based in Europe? These luxury brands could be ‘spin-offs’ by major brands but don’t yet present in China, so I created LBB Asia, a brand management company that launches “affordable luxury” brands in greater China.
What do you work on each day?
Over the past 5 years, we have launched several brands, including Ofee, Blanc des Vosges, Atelier Cologne and David Morris, among others. One of the problems we have encountered is the accelerated digitalisation of the Chinese market. China is five years ahead of Europe in digital technology so most of the traditional means of communication and distribution we were activating no longer worked, therefore we began conducting researching and testing new methods. Encouraged by my associate Victor Bogey (EM Lyon 2013), I created a second company in 2015: Ubudu Asia.
Sum up Ubudu in a tweet.
It’s the digitalisation of physical space.
What are the results like one year in?
The first year was difficult but we stuck with it, signed the first contract, which enabled us to make a name for ourselves and gave us credibility. We were recently selected for “Impact China”, an acceleration programme that encourages French start-ups to set up in China. We are far from being complacent but strategic contacts have been signed and numerous opportunities created.
What are your feelings about entrepreneurship in France?
Things have considerably evolved these past few years. Young people now want to set up their own companies, they aren’t as afraid. That will change the future of the country.
What drove you to become an entrepreneur?
I had a vision, a clear idea of what I could do and I knew I had disruptive project.
What was the hardest aspect of this adventure?
Being alone at the start. When you become an entrepreneur, it’s all on you: making pitches, managing teams etc.
How can we encourage young talent to stay in a job these days?
By sharing capital, even if that isn’t easy to do. Companies need to be flexible and allow employees to be more autonomous. This is what I try to do. Rather than clock-watching, I only care for results. This instils a much healthier climate and a better team spirit.
Is there an entrepreneur that inspires you?
Elon Musk. His journey is just so impressive. After Paypal, he launched into the aeronautical industry, and then developed a 100% electric vehicle that everyone wants to own. Now he’s presenting new photovoltaic roof tiles with the goal of making the entire planet energy sufficient. It’s just amazing!
Is there any other project you would like to lead?
I would like to see schools take a multidisciplinary approach to education. Today we spoonfeed our children and remove a lot of humanity from the education process. I think we need to incorporate certain subjects such as cooking, the human body or our relationship with nature. Also, I think that we need to start learning what are currently considered “university subjects” earlier on.
What are your ties with EM Lyon Business School?
As soon as I get the chance, I am going to hire alumni. I got a lot from the school and now I want to give something back. I’ve also collaborated with the Shanghai campus on brands and business in China.
What will we find on your nightstand?
My Kindle. I love to read. Unfortunately I lack the time, so I have to fit it in when I should be sleeping.