Money & Me: 'Setting up your own business is frightening, but also exciting'

French entrepreneur Guillaume Tripet is passionate about cryptocurrencies, which he says are the best investment he has ever made

Guillaume Tripet is the co-founder of rite, a brand of vegan gummy vitamins that deliver key nutrients and boost energy levels. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Guillaume Tripet is the co-founder of rite, a brand of vegan gummy vitamins that deliver key nutrients and boost energy levels.

The Frenchman moved to Dubai in 2015 and has worked with various start-ups, having previously run small businesses as a student and while living in South-East Asia.

Mr Tripet set up rite in January, based on his personal need for vitamins that blended superfood ingredients such as ginseng, guarana, acerola for energy and digestion-aiding artichoke, fennel, pineapple stem and kola seeds. Mr Tripet, 35, lives with his wife in Umm Suqeim, Dubai.

Did money feature in your upbringing?

I grew up in the Paris suburbs, a happy childhood. My father had his own law firm and my mother was working in human resources. They were strict about the value of money and always made sure it was not the ultimate goal in life, but to be happy at work. We didn't talk much about it but they told me "you need to do something that you love, rather than doing it for money". So, it was never a dream to make money but rather accomplish, doing something I love.

When I left home after I was 18, they gave me enough allowance to live a normal student life, €200 ($236) a month. It was enough to survive, to pay for my apartment, internet and food.

Did you have to supplement that?

I had part-time jobs and side businesses since I was young. For example, I would buy 50 Ralph Lauren shirts from China and sell them for three times the price on eBay.

When did you earn your first wage?

I did not have a salary for two years as I had my own company after doing a master's degree in entrepreneurship. It was similar to a Groupon (discounting platform) for beverages and food, for birthdays and private events. Fortunately, in France, you can receive compensation from the government – about €400 per month – when you set up your company and do not pay yourself. I was used to living like a student until I was around 30. My first real salary was about $1,000 a month in Thailand, enough there to live a decent life. I always considered money as a necessity, to do what I wanted. I wanted enough to travel.

What steered you to the UAE?

I was curious about the start-up ecosystem and wanted a change from Asia. I also wanted to travel around the region and be closer to my family. I found a job in a start-up, which does not exist any more, a marketplace that connected chefs and foodies. In the UAE, I finally started to save decent money; my main goal was to save enough to set up my own business.

What inspired rite?

It all started with a personal need. I used to work in a fast-paced environment where we worked hard, had little sleep and stress accumulated. I did not know anything about health supplements until I did a blood test and realised I was deficient in many vitamins and minerals.

I started to buy pills, asked pharmacists how to get more energy, sleep better and improve my digestion. I forgot to take my pills day after day. That is when a friend of mine came back from the US with gummy vitamins. I immediately loved them. I realised there was no local gummy brand with clean, efficient and delicious products. With my friend, and now partner, we decided to create our own; rite was a side project for a while. The products are manufactured in France.

Has the pandemic influenced the business?

We knew the trend for healthier food supplements was growing, but it boomed with Covid-19. Many specialists advised people to supplement their diet with vitamins to boost immunity. We launched at the right place and time. Our goal is to be a GCC leader in the health supplement sector.

How do you feel about spending and saving?

I am definitely a saver. I do not see money as a necessity but more as a means to achieve greater goals. I always wanted to be my own boss and for that you need financial independence. I go to restaurants once a week and before Covid, I would travel frequently, so most of my budget went to travels. Most savings are in my bank account. Rite is a self-funded business, which allows me to have our first year of activity without investors. For the rest, I am a risk-taker and invest in stocks and cryptocurrencies.

What is your best investment?

I became passionate about cryptocurrencies in early 2017. It is by far the best return on investment – times 20 to 25 – I will ever make. I had about 70 currencies, now I have only 12. I am still investing in a few because I really believe in the blockchain.

Guillaume Tripet launched rite in January this year. Antonie Robertson / The National

Do you have a cherished purchase?

The engagement ring I offered my wife. I did not know anything about jewellery but I managed to design it myself; a unique piece that represents her perfectly.

What is your philosophy towards money?

As an entrepreneur, money is a KPI (key performance indicator) to success. If I am successful, my company will generate enough money to pay my employees and develop the business. On a personal level, it allows me to be independent and pursue my dreams without asking permission from anyone.

Are you wise with money?

Although my salary doubled on my first job in Dubai, my life did not change. I do not go to brunches or expensive restaurants. I do not own a fancy car but I have other expenses such as my house, and activities and travels that are important to unwind from work. My attitude towards money did not change over time. If, suddenly, I was very rich, I would not change my lifestyle.

I did not have a salary for two years as I had my own company after doing a master's degree in entrepreneurship
Guillaume Tripet, founder of rite

What are you happiest spending on?

Experiences, whether it is a holiday in an exotic country, some family time back in Europe or a unique activity. Anything that buys me time to enjoy these moments, I am happy to spend on, but I do not have any materialistic luxuries. Memories, experiences … that is something I value more than material things.

Is there a key financial milestone?

As soon as I had enough money to set up my own business and the freedom to live without a salary for a few months, I found it frightening and exciting at the same time. Frightening because I have no back-up any more, so I have no choice but to succeed, and exciting because I always made my best decisions when I was broke. You wake up every morning knowing that you asked for it, that is how you find the energy and the grit to go beyond.

Do you think ahead to retirement?

I would not want to retire. I need intellectual excitement in my life and I take this from the challenges of work. If I could have a business where I could still be operational but one that also gives me time off … I can see myself working until I am very old. My dream would be to have a company with different offices across the world and the luxury of following the best seasons with my family if I wanted to.

Updated: September 02, 2021, 7:00 AM