Nicolas Passalacqua is the leader of Octipas, which he founded in 2010. The Montpellier company works to help retail brands with their digitalization strategy, notably regarding their points-of-sale. The company has attracted leaders in the sector, including Celio, Nature et Découvertes, Intersport, The Kooples, and more.
Why did you choose Montpellier?
I grew up in Montpellier. I went to school here and this is where I started my career. When I founded Octipas in 2010, I found all the support I needed in the Montpellier ecosystem. I applied to join Montpellier BIC early in the process. In particular, I contacted Crealia (Synersud) for preliminary funding. They granted me a personal loan. I also contacted Oseo (Bpifrance).
What was the main contribution for your success brought by Montpellier BIC and its teams?
Their assistance is extremely well organized. Montpellier BIC brought me everything I needed when I started my activity. I started with four months of training on company management. That was very useful, because you are faced with complex management issues from the very beginning, such as human resources and legal, financial, and accounting aspects. I also benefited from the expertise offered by a project manager who assisted me during the first few years. That was a determining factor, particularly for the financial part. An innovative startup needs to obtain capital to get going and throughout the period during which the company still earns relatively little revenue. I was able to get a clear overview of available financial aid resources. Montpellier BIC successfully developed its notoriety and has established an excellent reputation among business stakeholders. When I met my first customers, the fact that I was involved with such a well-known startup incubator made it possible to overcome barriers and attract their attention.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start a company?
Don’t hesitate to make the move! You just have to know that you’ll be giving it 300% of your effort, especially in the beginning. It is essential to study your market carefully and identify what others are doing and what works. Another priority is to surround yourself with the right people, choosing partners that enhance your profile. It’s good to have complementary roles, such as an engineer and a sales manager. One develops the product, the other knows how to sell it. In my case, I have a dual profile in engineering and marketing, and I joined forces with a good sales representative. Another important point is that you should not precipitate things in the beginning. Study the market and take your time to develop the innovation and observe objectively as much as possible. But once it’s all in motion, you must build sales quickly to make the company profitable.
How do you envision the innovative company of tomorrow in Montpellier?
A company that does more than innovate! On its own, innovation is not enough. Innovation is only 50% of success. The other major factor is the team that drives the innovation and succeeds in selling it. I’ve seen people with excellent ideas, but who were not prepared to manage a company, human resources, financial aspects, stress, or crisis situations. Others launch one innovation after the other because they really have the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a bit of a mix. You need to be in the right place at the right time, with the right innovation that meets a strong need. Montpellier has real advantages. The metropolitan area is booming and attracting a lot of people and projects.