Fred has built a wonderful company with a virtual architecture. Read on to see how.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Fred Plais: I was born in the western part of France. I’ve worked at three different companies. I’ve got three kids and a wife, and I now live in San Francisco.
Sramana Mitra: What is your education? What did you study?
Fred Plais: I went to a business school in Paris for three years where I studied marketing. I started working for five years before I started my own business. The first business was a web agency. We grew the business to 50 people. I was actually looking for something more product-oriented. I decided to move on and started another company called Commerce Guys, which is an open source software company with several co-founders.
There were four of us – two people from France and two from the US. We built an open source project called Drupal Commerce which serviced merchants online. On that journey, we built a cloud platform initially thinking that we would serve our commerce customers with the cloud platform.
Sramana Mitra: What platform?
Fred Plais: Application management platform.
Sramana Mitra: You did an e-commerce cloud platform. Does that mean that it was a competitor to Shopify and Magento?
Fred Plais: Exactly. We were building this open-source software to deliver e-commerce websites. We built it in a very generic way and we wanted to make it extremely smooth and easy for the users to manage and run their applications online. The success was strong when we launched it back in 2014.
The partners gave us a very quick feedback, which was, “This is a great platform, but we’d love to use it for other software.” That was back in 2015. We decided to build a dedicated business out of it. Now, we are the white label solution for Magento which was initially a competitor. Many other applications are also running on the platform today.
Sramana Mitra: Let me get this clear. Your platform today is an open source competitor to Magento and Shopify.
Fred Plais: That was 10 years ago. Now we are the main partner of Magento running on the cloud.
Sramana Mitra: What is that partnership? What do you do for Magento?
Fred Plais: Magento is a software to build your e-commerce web shop. Today, Magento sells Magento Cloud. It’s an upsell. You can use the software on-premise or you could actually get a version of it on the cloud. That version was built on top of our platform. That’s one of the partnerships we’re very grateful about and very proud about. We basically can run any sort of application on the platform today. The platform saves developers a lot of time deploying it on the cloud.