Episode 30 - STATION F Fighters Part 2: Alain Maisonneuve & Sabri Said, Tynkle
English translation coming soon!
English translation coming soon!
In 2008, Edouard Alligand decided to make a career change, which is normal for most people at some point in their lives. The problem? He moved into the banking sector...in 2008. Ouch. That’s a tough market to break into in the best of times and in the worst of times, the transition was difficult.
It was during that time that Edouard noticed that stocks were especially volatile and big money was made and lost because of that volatility. Through talks with customers in the banking market, he noticed that the systems being used could not keep up; so he applied his background in math and system programming to address the issue.
While working with one particular client, he built a new database that was able to run computations on thousands of CPUs. Making this work would be the difference between financial traders making or losing money, and the stakes were even higher in the wake of the financial crisis.
Out of this chaos, QuasarDB was born. It helped that the initial product was built based on the needs of a client, but Edouard realized that this tool would be useful beyond just that single client, so he raised money, product-ized it and built an early model to sell to others.
Edouard’s story is smart and enjoyable as he walks us through how he leveraged assistance from Business France and IMPACT USA to build out QuasarDB and enter the US market. While Edouard is a very serious person, he also has fun along the way. Launching a startup comes with enough stressful days, so it’s essential to learn how to laugh through them.
Another key point to note is Edouard’s assertion that yes, France has a deep talent base for developing tech products for global customers. That said, the business market in France is lagging behind other countries. It’s an important point and one that we hear from many startups focused on selling to big accounts. French business is too slow moving, they want to build rather than buy and negotiations can be painfully long, if they even work.
For a startup, having prospects who spin their wheels only to not buy anything is a progress-killer. If your early stage startup is trying to build a local market before going elsewhere, it’s a very big risk trying in France compared to engaging with prospects in other markets such as the UK, Scandinavia, or the US. Imagine the possibilities if more local companies here invested in startup technology!
In the case of QuasarDB, they did find local customers but they also learned that prospects elsewhere were more open to new technology companies and engaged with them as a serious partner. Deciding to focus on markets outside of France became an easy decision to make for Edouard.
There are plenty of lessons to be learned here on so many subjects - product creation, listening to customers, obsession with quality, moving to the business to the US, working with an accelerator and more - so you’ll probably want to listen a few times to soak it all in. Edouard has the industry experience as well as proven success, so he’s a wealth of information for all.
A few years ago it was said that George W. Bush claimed that “the problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” Even though he didn’t say this (and sure, we had to confirm this on Snopes because it does sound like something he could have blurted out) it’s fair to say this was the general stereotype by many outside of France and even some inside France too!
So how true is this today? While being a startup entrepreneur is not as much a part of the culture in France as it is in the US, everything is changing. Those who used to rush off to London or Silicon Valley are now seeing that yes, it’s possible to stay in France and enjoy success.
Even the word “success” is loaded because there is no single right answer. Success is whatever you define success to be. Is it being rich? Is it doing something positive for the world? Is it finding work-life balance? There is no right answer, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Along those lines, how do you achieve success with a startup? Do you mirror Silicon Valley, where financial success is plentiful? Despite the claims of some, there really is no single path to success.
Can other parts of the world learn from Silicon Valley. Of course, but there is plenty of both good and bad. Does one model from a specific region in the US translate everywhere? Hardly! Even in the US there are many models and many startup success stories in places outside of Silicon Valley.
Before jumping into the many great discussions with startup people and industry experts, we want to provide you with a brief introduction to ourselves and what we will be talking about moving forward. Instead of bloviating or pontificating, our goal is to engage in fun and interesting discussions with startup people.
From our perspective, listening and learning from others is the best way forward. Maybe your focus is different from ours or our guests, but listening to others can help move forward with developing your own success. Even when we choose another path, listening to others helps develop our own methods.
When you’re a larger company and have plenty of money available, it’s easy to find experts and get advice. When you’re getting started and money is tight, access to experts is much more difficult. By listening to others who have gone through this experience, you can hear that others have faced exactly the same issues as you.
We hope that it will help you think more about the decisions you make, these discussions have already helped us change our mind on a few points. Keep an open mind and learn along with us.