"Montpellier Métropole is the hotbed of tomorrow’s companies"
Specialized in detecting security flaws on the Web, Ziwit already has nearly 10,000 clients around the world using its “httpcs” solution, including Google, Adobe, Tripadvisor, Sanofi, Lagardère, and more. In January 2019, the Montpellier company acquired the American electronic signature platform, TrustSign. The company’s goal is to become the leader in cybersecurity by 2025.
Why did you choose Montpellier?
Like all project leaders, I was first influenced by the presence of an efficient assistance structure, Montpellier BIC, which has become an international reference. The Montpellier ecosystem also seemed very favorable, especially given our activity in the new technology sector and our need for a high-speed network. Another determining factor was airline and train service, which gives us fast access to Paris and other European capitals while enjoying the southern French quality of life and exceptional sunshine the rest of the time. Also, it is relatively easy to hire qualified personnel in this area thanks to the many high-level schools and universities. The price of professional real estate is still half as expensive as Paris. I would also like to mention the Montpellier Métropole team’s ability to listen and their dedication to helping companies grow. As a sign of our commitment to the area, we are building a 7,500 m² tower next to the Saint Roch train station – Tech Tower – designed to host our future headquarters by 2021.
How did Montpellier BIC and its teams contribute to your success?
Montpellier BIC hosted us for three years. That time turned out to be extremely important in developing our business. I have memories of a team that pushed me to develop my product, go out to seek clients, and confront the reality of entrepreneurship. At the same time, BIC project managers offered pertinent answers to all our questions and inquiries concerning sales and marketing strategy, human resources, legal issues, financial options, and more. That precious help enabled us to avoid many common pitfalls. Unlike private accelerators and incubators, BIC is a public structure that does not seek to reach a critical mass of candidates or play an intermediary role for consulting services and other providers in order to earn commission. BIC also does not encourage startups to raise funds without a reason. The pre-selection process for candidates may take up to several months to ensure the viability of chosen projects. It’s no surprise that 79% of the incubated companies are still successful after 5 years, compared to a national average closer to 51%.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start a company?
First of all, they need to make sure their project is relevant. A good idea is one that will be profitable. It’s the idea whose implementation leads to a project that can be transformed into a viable company. For sure, it’s an idea that the leaders can sell to customers, but first of all it must convince a team. To hire the brilliant people you need, when they could just as easily go work for a larger company, you must convince them, motivate them, set goals, and hold firm to your direction. Credibility is earned among customers by providing them with solutions. It is earned among your teams by showing that you are indeed a company leader. Future entrepreneurs are often dreamers, convinced that they are going to change the world. They therefore need to start by making sure that they are surrounded by well-intentioned and competent people to avoid wasting time and money. In that sense, choosing Montpellier is an excellent idea because of the presence of recognized assistance structures and a close-knit ecosystem. Startups all know each other and share contacts. Project leaders can easily go out to meet company managers who have succeeded, and benefit from their feedback at events. They should also not be afraid of seeking to conquer their market from the outset.
How do you envision the innovative company of tomorrow in Montpellier?
The answer is not so simple! Above all, I think that Montpellier Métropole is the hotbed of tomorrow’s companies. This is one of the most dynamic metropolises, as well as the one with the most French Tech certifications, notably for cybersecurity, edtech, fintech, and more. The new French Tech certification and creation of the facility dedicated to the sector should also lead to a growing number of startups. All you have to do is listen to the French president or the CEO of Bpifrance as they use innovative Montpellier companies as examples to demonstrate just how well this territory is succeeding. Maybe one day Montpellier Métropole will be assimilated with Silicon Valley!