“We are proud to have launched an international company from Montpellier”
Why did you choose Montpellier to create CodinGame?Montpellier offers a particularly dynamic startup ecosystem, with personalized assistance provided by institutions for innovative startups, especially those specializing in software. We never regretted our decision to launch CodinGame in Montpellier. Quite the contrary, we are very proud to have done it. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate that an international company can grow even if it does not have headquarters in Paris, London, or New York
What was the main contribution for your success brought by Montpellier BIC and its teams?Montpellier BIC coached us at every step of our adventure. When we started the project in 2010, all three founding partners were first-time entrepreneurs. None of us had any real experience founding a company. Montpellier BIC helped us elaborate our strategy and formalize our thoughts. Above all, the incubator was there for us during our first round of fundraising with business angels. Eight months after we launched the company, our capital funding in 2013 was a determining factor for CodinGame’s viability.
Montpellier BIC contributed significantly to our success, providing tools, meeting rooms to welcome our first clients, methodology for accounting and business plans, and key contacts with prestigious financial resources. We would not be where we are today if we had not gone through the project assistance process. I'm not just talking about professional advice. BIC project managers also always provide a level of moral support. The team does an incredible job. I can't thank them enough. Some of the team members have even become close friends.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start a company?You have to believe in yourself! I’m joking a little bit, but it’s really the key to everything. Don’t be discouraged when things get hard. There are going to be a lot of challenges along your path, so you and your partners must support each other. Choosing your partners carefully is critical. They will be your strongest allies! Focus on creating what is known as a “minimum viable (and lovable) product” for your idea, without spending months and months on research and development dedicated to features that may not even be essential for starting to sell. Create a preliminary version of your first product as quickly as possible to confirm your market. Make proofs-of-concept for your partners, distribute a “freemium” solution, and test and identify your target clients. Consider their feedback as key input that will help you establish priorities for your product roadmap.
Invest in marketing early in the game. Work with freelance designers who can help portray a high-quality brand image, with a flawless website and materials, even if you are still just a couple of geeks in a garage. Prepare your content strategy even before the product is launched. It will be very useful afterwards.
Start with a simple business model and reasonable prices. Startups often set their pricing too low at the outset, thinking that is the way to challenge the competition and sell better, whereas higher prices may increase the perceived value of your product. That holds true even for a young company. Don’t waste too much time in the race to win competitions or obtain subsidies. Choose your options wisely, as they all represent significant administrative time. Then move forward.
Lastly, celebrate all your successes as a group, even the tiniest victories. That provides a good boost for the next steps.
How do you envision the innovative company of tomorrow in Montpellier?An innovative company can be particularly successful if it knows how to be visionary, solve a real problem faced by its target, and profoundly change practices to drive society forward. I would like that company to be agile, humanitarian, open to the outside world, and mobilize new-generation organizational practices such as collaborative and flexible management. I would also like to see a company that is in tune with the values that are consistent with its business activity. For example, the company could donate some of its profit to non-profit organizations by creating a foundation or supporting local initiatives.
Entrepreneurship has even more meaning – both for founders and employees – when everyone feels that they are investing in something that has a positive impact on the world.