@VR SQUAD : IT’S AN AMAZING TIME TO CREATE A COMPANY IN FRANCE
Franck de Visme, founder of VR Squad, an agency specialized in virtual and augmented reality for trainings and education, would not recommend another destination than France for entrepreneurs. He mentions the financial support from public banks, the high quality of workers and a reduced concurrence in comparison to other technology poles, such as The Silicon Valley, in San Francisco Bay Area (USA). Graduated as an engineer in the ENSCL (Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Lille), Visme changed the expected course of his career working as a photo reporter before creating his first company in 1997, the web agency La tête dans les images, sold to Resonances Group. In 2002 he founded the mobile development agency Tetraedge, later acquired by MC2/MICROÏDS. With VR Squad, his past experience with videogames and mobile applications development was combined with virtual reality to create immersive trainings. Check out his insights about the French market in an interview to Beeleev.
Today we are an agency doing custom-made VR (virtual-reality) and corporate training or AR (augmented reality) custom-field operations, which is assisting people on the field, like all the rigs or stuff like that. Basically, we are building a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform for people in corporates, trainers or human resources departments to create their own VR training on our platform.
How did you get your business idea?
Well, actually it’s a very old idea for us because in 2004 I had a company doing video games on mobile, video games and we were doing 3D. In 2004 we already tried to do that (virtual reality), but there were no headsets. So, we tried on computer, doing 3D and working for EDF, for people like that, even with AI a little bit, but it was much too early for the market.
For three years, now, the markets are literally exploding everywhere. So, we think it is a good time to start again with a new headset.
Is there a lot of competition?
Yes, there is a lot of competition, not yet in France, not so much. In the US, of course, there are hundreds of companies doing that. Maybe thirty in France, which is not so much. [Our competitors] are only agencies, but they are not building SaaS platforms like we are doing. It’s a competition for the agency model, but not for the platform.
What are the main challenges?
Challenges are like in any company. You have all the challenges of bootstrapping, equity, putting your own money, finding new money, grants, loans. Recruiting the right people, which is crucial, it’s the most important: who, why you do it, and who you are working with.
You need to execute. Every day is difficult to execute, it is like anybody. You have a good idea, but the execution is painful. You have to wake up, to go to work and to execute, find clients and make them sign and put money in your business. It’s always the same. But you have to be in the right time for the market, which I think is our case for VR, and in the right way to go to market: that strategy is different and it is based on experience, I would say.
Doing business in France is harder than in other countries?
I don’t know all the rest of the world, but I’m travelling all the time between the US and Asia. I’m just coming back from Bangkok and Cambodia. But compared to the US, for instance, it’s not more difficult in France, it is not true.
Competition in the US between startups and even with VCs (venture capital) is very high. It’s very difficult to get funded, even in the US, and I would say that in France it is an amazing time, because we are very helped and pushed, even by the government. We have BPI for brands, loans, we have a tax return credit called CIR (Competitiveness Tax Credit).
People [in France] are not very expensive, compared to the US, to San Francisco, and they are skilled. We are lucky. I would say it is an amazing time to create a company in France. I would not say to people to go somewhere else.
What is your main advice?
I would advise people who want to create a company in Paris or France to be in the ecosystem. Come to Paris through accelerators or incubators or make your own network. As I said before, be in [the co-working and office space] We Work, because you will have many startups around you, they will help you, they will give you advices.
To create a company, it takes ten minutes, it is not complicated. It is not even costly, it is 140 euros, so it is OK. It is just about finding clients, so that is about network and connections. If it’s B2C [Business to Consumer], it’s about digital marketing, doing the right campaigns and to have a good UX&UI (User Experience & User Interface Design). It’s all about the product. It’s like everywhere, actually.