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Building a Global Software Company from France: BonitaSoft CEO Miguel Valdés-Faura (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Jul 18th 2013

Sramana: As you were coming out of Bull and setting BonitaSoft up as a separate company, how did you handle branding? Was BonitaSoft the original brand, or was the brand originally Bonita?

Miguel Valdés-Faura: Bonita was the name of the project. Nobody had the Bonita trademark in the first eight years, so this brand is owned by BonitaSoft. The guys behind the Bonita project are now behind the company as well. That can be tricky in the open source community, but I think that we have messaged properly. We have positioned ourselves as adding value on top of the project with the same personnel.

Sramana: How is the company financed?

Miguel Valdés-Faura: We have venture capital that joined from the very beginning. Bootstrapping was not a good option for us. BPM is a mature market, and we were just bringing innovation to this market. We built a global business. In the past four years we had raised $30 million with French venture capital firms. Our first round in 2009 was for $6 million. Since then we have raised additional funds.

Sramana: When you went out to raise $6 million from French venture capitalist you had experience with the team. What about customers? Did you have a set of customers ready to buy your solution?

Miguel Valdés-Faura: That is one of the difficult aspects of having an open source company. We had deployed 40 major implementations during out time at Bull. We could hope that some of them would become BonitaSoft customers. However, we built our pitch on the promise of the technology and our knowledge of the market. We referenced those 40 customers as validation, but not paying customers. We positioned ourselves as capable of changing the market globally. We were able to get good traction with investors based on the community that we were able to show and we had a solid business plan with clear monetization.

Sramana: How has your business plan played out in the real marketplace?

Miguel Valdés-Faura: Our first year was focused on building out key features. We added a marketing team. They did a lot of social and viral marketing. We got a lot of people coming to our site to download the software. We were able to start engaging with a lot of people because they were downloading our software.

Sramana: You said you were starting with a community of 100,000 people and did further viral marketing. Did you have a sense as to what part of that community was going to monetize?

Miguel Valdés-Faura: We made it very clear up front that the individuals who were going to manage the community would be different than the group of people that were monetizing for BonitaSoft. We created a community management team dedicated to support the open source community. That remains their role today.

We know what kind of people will monetize. We see a lot of freelancers, system integrators, and people who work in large organizations. We saw all of those people in the community. Since the software was available for free without contact info required. When you needed resources for the software, you could subscribe to that information from the corporate site. The sales funnel starts when someone fills out a form requesting more details.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Building a Global Software Company from France: BonitaSoft CEO Miguel Valdés-Faura
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