“The priority is not to raise funds, but to sell your product”
Matooma is a Montpellier-based company founded in 2012, specializing in SIM cards for connected objects and industry M2M/IoT services. The company was hosted at Montpellier BIC’s Cap Omega incubator for nearly four years. With its French Tech Pass status renewed consistently since 2014, Matooma had over 2,500 business clients by late 2018. With its 50 employees, the company pursues its international growth from its headquarters in Pérols, just south of Montpellier.
Why did you decide to create Matooma in Montpellier?
I am from Béziers and did my university studies in Montpellier, at the EPSI Computer Science and Networks Engineering School. I then went to work for SFR in Paris and Avignon. I had the opportunity to be an outside consultant for Montpellier BIC. I didn't hesitate to come back here when I created Matooma in 2012, as I was already familiar with Montpellier BIC’s abilities to assist startups.
How did Montpellier BIC and its teams contribute to your success?
I appreciated the responsiveness and quality of their assistance, their communication actions, and worry-free hosting at the incubator, where you are surrounded by other startups. After having worked for several months in my garage, and then in an apartment in La Grande Motte, I contacted a Montpellier BIC project manager in September 2012. Our application was accepted quickly, in November 2012. We had our offices at the Cap Omega incubator for almost four years. There were four of us working in 30 m² when we started, and 30 employees in 240 m² when we moved out. We benefited from hosting without any specific time constraint, with an all-inclusive lease that included many additional features such as meeting rooms, the patio area, after-work events, and more. Startups at Montpellier BIC get great advice from the outset. In particular, Montpellier BIC helps them elaborate plans and organize the financial aspects of their projects. I also fondly remember the friendliness of the BIC staff. Montpellier BIC is a very strong communicator, which boosts visibility. Matooma became a reference point for startup visits at Cap Omega and we were covered by many articles in the press. It is also very motivating to be with other startups. That generates both emulation and contacts, as everyone there is learning how to manage a company. Even today, I am still in touch with a dozen or more company leaders that I met at Montpellier BIC.
What advice would you give to young startup founders?
The first thing I recommend for startups is that they not stay home alone with their doubts, but to go see the incubator. I feel that assistance is about 50% responsible for our success. I also think that it is important not to overly focus on raising funds. The top priority is to sell your product. For that, startups need to develop a digitally oriented sales strategy, because “no Google, no business!” It is also best to identify a viable business model based on recurring revenue. Otherwise things can be risky. I would also say that, as the company grows, you shouldn't hesitate to solidify the structure by hiring a managing director. As creative as you may be, there comes a time when you need to delegate management, organization, and even recruitment in order to remain objective.
How do you envision the innovative company of tomorrow in Montpellier?
I believe in service innovation rather than disruptive innovation, where the competition is already fierce and development cycles are very long. The innovative company of tomorrow will have to be agile, with an Internet strategy comprising a mix of natural referencing, AdWords advertising, and social networks to market products and build sales at the lowest cost. The company will leverage the Internet as much as possible to automate the client journey and handle scalability, as things move very fast. For example, we find that it is 30% faster to use electronic signatures on our documents. Matooma has grown 50% over the past several years, generating 11 million euros in sales in 2018. The innovative company of tomorrow will be international. That is an unavoidable fact. Matooma launched its international activity from Montpellier, “glocally”, with multilingual platforms. We are considering raising funds in 2019 to finance our growth, starting in Spain and then focusing on five key target countries: Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, and Germany.