asd or The Art of Creating Your Own Space

Alexandre Conrad works in the world of investment capital when he realizes a regular need for companies: to easily identify and collect information on different areas of activity. The difficulty lies in identifying the competitive landscape and retrieval of data, be it on financial, legal or even more so on activity. Then he noticed that other than Google, they do not have the resources to do their research, even if other interesting and intelligent solutions appear, but are devoted to business prospecting. At the same time, open data arrives and an idea begins to mature in his mind: to unify legal, financial and legal data on the one hand and to work on intelligent algorithms for data collection across the web and social networks on the other. . ,

wish to join

In early 2016, he decided to quit his job to start his own business, become an entrepreneur and looked into the question. Macro law opens up opportunities, especially through the emerging open data. Not being a technician, he oversees emerging projects around corporate open data. He then looked to Antoine Onon, who would become his future partner. The latter distinguished itself by developing a business database solution promoted on the AtLab site, a digital service linked directly to Prime. Later, a team of developers at Société Générale, responsible for working at home in the evening, created the first version of the already well-developed business data application, Impressive. They exchange, discuss, collaborate without any legal formalities. Gradually, he realizes that his understanding is genuine and that he has complementary skills, Antoine has a perfect command of IT development and the creation of complex algorithms, Alexandre has a greater business and financial profile.

project start

Although the company officially saw the light of day in 2017, they had already been working together for over a year on data gathering to develop the largest source of information on French companies. They then have to index companies’ websites, algorithmically digest their content, structure the data, and make it a search engine. In short, the Google of companies. The positioning is then based on the fact that “There was a lot of data on Google, but not just on companies. There were many press articles in the form of blogs or e-commerce sites that sell the product but do not manufacture it. We thought that some people were searching for information efficiently. And in 2017 we already had a very structured base. Hands us over to the founder.

deepening of the field

As they gradually improve their algorithms, they keep abreast of developments in the industry. quickly they “Cover over 80% of companies with more than 1 million turnover in terms of indexing heterogeneous data, i.e. information obtained from websites, social networks, etc. ,that allows them “To have important and relevant information on companies as almost everyone does SEO today”, One thing that leads to another is they come to work on the contacts. reflection is that “Identifying companies and their businesses, even legal forms, was good, but now we need this information to add value”, However, they are going backwards due to GDPR coming in, the outline of which is not clear then (note: regulation, etc) and they don’t want to bet on everything they might have to undo. next.

a GDPR that allows them to continue

They realize that the GDPR is not as strict as one had feared and that starting from scratch allows them to build a technical system that meets its requirements. With the help of a law firm, they verify that they can build a completed project in accordance with the law. To do this, the founders decide not to store personal data and make “A technical device that does not store any personal data”. Entrepreneurs rely on dynamic technology, a technological challenge that uses public data. For example, it is the statuses that are stored and not the contact itself. The utility allows extensive searches such as “Identify all CEOs in the Paris region who work in a digital agency and list in just a few clicks”.

a huge algorithmic task

If this first phase holds up by 2018, the technology is far from fixed as the founders tell us: “These algorithms can be born very quickly, in 2 or 3 months but then take years to perfect them, which is an abuse of language, because they are never perfect. We want to get more coverage, more quality. to spend their time improving their algorithms”, To reinforce the quality, the founders also decide to install email testers, which do not keep the data in stock, but test trails to check its validity.

a practice-based business model

If they develop in this field of activity, Alexandre believes that they are not from it. “Antoine was a developer. He knew how to build trading algorithms for large investment banks and had an engineer profile. For my part, I was a financial investor and so we weren’t in business. We hired Had to learn the trade. We didn’t really know how the sector worked and we realized that the sector model was based on the classic subscription with different versions.”. Then they decide to start with this formula but quickly realize that subscriptions work well for a “A recurring condition but people didn’t have such a use for it”.

development of proposals

The two founders then decided to develop their offerings and achieve a profound transformation, both in terms of service. A long phase that takes them two years to grasp a fundamental element: “The companies didn’t wait for us to get the base and the main theme was not to build new bases, but above all to update their existing bases.” . which is called data enrichment”. This first development comes at the request of a customer in 2018 and the promotion quickly takes a leading position. “Because it makes it possible to update the bases of CRM or PR, both legal data or whether the company still exists, or is looking for new contacts”.

desire to live in mother-in-law

From the very beginning, the founders have wanted to keep everything online. “It was very different from the market because we built on the basis of open data and we have always had an argument for openness. We have always sought to be as cheap as possible and give as many people access to our solutions as possible. “, because a revolution “At the time, our competitors had very closed, very hermetic solutions where you had to have a fixed annual subscription that was very flexible and not too expensive. The data export capacity was very low. Few had access to their biggest customers. There were small services for him but overall it was not in his DNA.” A Competitive Advantage Since “It is possible to export what you want, as you want in three clicks and you can integrate the API”, This is the reason for the success of the solution for the founder, which allows them to build relationships with French start-ups such as Allen, Payfit or PrestaShop.

data that will only grow

If the challenge seems to have been won, it is indeed scalable, as confirmed by the founders: “We were able to do this for open data, otherwise aggregators would not have been possible. The famous law of 2015 opened data but it provides for others. You have to understand that they are opening data little by little over three years But it takes time because they have to set up the system and the means to access it, which is very complicated. », An opening that allows them all to undermine older systems such as Infogreffe on licenses whose public monopoly no longer exists

a player shaking the sector

as the leader tells us “When we arrived, we bumped into everyone and we just didn’t make friends. Today we get on very well with them because everyone is a competitor and a participant at the same time. Everyone has a specific service or wants to best serve the customer and so need others, we have become the contact specialist », It must be said that before the data was uncovered, there was an oligopoly among some companies that were only able to obtain information with a formidable barrier to entry that was the initial cost. due to which “With all the legal, financial and legal data we have today, we will need €300,000 initially to start the adventure. So for a small start-up like us, there is €300,000 in fixed costs to start development. 600,000 (2 years of license) would have been required to digest. »

direct and indirect distribution

If the company didn’t take the risk of hiring initially and preferred to work with recurring freelancers, this is an option: “We were waiting for it to start and we didn’t want to compete with the big players. We didn’t see ourselves with our small commercial structure trying to negotiate with CAC40. We preferred an approach where we position ourselves as a data wholesaler, while simultaneously continuing to address our customers directly. It is a way to reach large customers through our competitors who have been around for 20 years but without going through very long and complicated sales cycles. We didn’t want to waste time doing a dozen meetings with groups that didn’t necessarily succeed.”

However, the company has not given up on direct marketing and now has about 11,000 registered users and about 250 “premium” customers.

In 2021, the start-up plans to open 6 to 8 positions, half technical, half marketing/sales, to support its growth.

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