Innovation under pressure

Olivi­er Del­croix, who grad­u­at­ed in 2008 from UTC with the major ‘Com­put­er sci­ences and appli­ca­tions’, decid­ed to cre­ate Com­pel­lia, a start-up in France, after enrich­ing expe­ri­ences in both the Argen­tine and Spain. As Olivi­er sees it, dif­fer­ences in inno­va­tion between coun­tries stem from dif­fer­ing demand for­mats enforced by their market-places. 

Tell our readers why and how your experience in Argentina was enriching after your university years 

I chose to come to UTC for its inter­na­tion­al vista and out­reach. Then, fol­low­ing a semes­ter at the Uni­ver­si­ty Del Sal­vador, Buenos Aires, I decid­ed to stay in the Argen­tine to work for a com­pa­ny Globant. Here we had a set of pio­neer­ing cre­ators who were strong­ly inspired by what they observed in the Sil­i­con Val­ley Amer­i­ca, work styles and meth­ods. That enabled me to access the very best in com­put­er sci­ence and appli­ca­tions devel­op­ments before they reached Europe. I learned what are called agile tech­niques, which allow you to come with com­put­er sci­ence solu­tions very quick­ly. Cus­tomers are reg­u­lar­ly asso­ci­at­ed with project progress so that the final prod­uct, deliv­ered very rapid­ly, cor­re­spond­ed exact­ly to their expec­ta­tions. In just a few months, we com­plet­ed a job that nor­mal­ly would have tak­en a year using clas­sic con­sul­ta­tions, final­ized pro­to­types … Not only is this approach long, but the chances are one to ten that the solu­tion final­ly pro­posed is found sat­is­fac­to­ry by the cus­tomer! To attain this sort of effi­cien­cy lev­el, we hold project progress get-togeth­ers every morn­ing. These scrum-meet­ings are very short – twen­ty min­utes approx. max – but they allow every­one to have their say. The par­tic­i­pants do so stand­ing up this alone incites each per­son to be “to the point” in his/her expose … 

What were your impressions when you returned to Europe?

My impres­sion was that of trav­el­ling back in time. The work-place tech­niques I had learned in the Argen­tine were not yet in use here. My return also taught me to think about the way nation­al mar­kets oper­ate with respect to inno­va­tion dis­sem­i­na­tion. I real­ized that the solu­tions avail­able var­ied a lot from one coun­try to anoth­er. In Spain, for exam­ple, tex­ting is not unlim­it­ed as in France but is a pay-ser­vice. To get round this hur­dle, the Span­ish were quick to adopt What­sApp® (USA) sev­er­al years before the French. Anoth­er exam­ple, in Rome, Italy, there are very few pub­lic trans­ports means, so the Ital­ians devel­op the car-shar­ing app Enjoy which allows you to geolo­calise cars free for hire and to leave this car almost any­where when the trip is fin­ished. In Paris, there are numer­ous Metro-lines and sta­tions, so your car-share Autolib relies on just a few sta­tions for its ser­vice outlets. 

So, why did you choose France to locate Compellia?

In fact, it was the oppor­tu­ni­ty I had to get a job with a start-up that encour­aged me to set up shop in the Paris area. The French dig­i­tal scene, Paris par­tic­u­lar­ly so, is a hive of activ­i­ty. There are some excel­lent incu­ba­tor-nurs­eries there. A French Tech sub­sidy helped us devel­op the data analy­sis brick that we at Com­pel­lia pro­pose. In e‑trade and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing where we are quite active, sev­er­al lead­ers such as Criteo are French. There is also a Greater Paris mar­ket-place for e‑trade site mon­i­tor­ing that we also pro­pose at Compellia. 

In your opinion, what country appears the most attractive for a digital entrepreneur? 

In Por­tu­gal, Lis­bon has made con­sid­er­able efforts to attract start-ups. The most recent Web Sum­mit reg­is­tered some 40 000 per­sons from all over the world. Many cities are vying with each oth­er in the dig­i­tal mar­ket, such as Berlin, Tel Aviv, Lon­don or Paris. The choic­es are wide open! Nonethe­less, the USA still remains a leader and a stan­dard-set­ter. The new e‑marketing trends come from the USA. Per­son­alised site pre­sen­ta­tions and con­tents for sites are tai­lor-made to fit the cus­tomers and now are among the lat­est inno­va­tions from across the Atlantic. 

Le magazine

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