Sramana Mitra: Your first financing was US financing?
Fred Plais: It was financed by French and Finnish VCs. It’s difficult when you’re pivoting. You get a business that’s not going that fast anymore and you get another one which is picking up. You need to reinvent everything. Financial investors have a timeline. They’ve been supportive. We’ve been financed by the European Commission. They have an R&D program called Edge2020 that is well-funded. They finance companies that have lots of R&D.
We received a grant from them. It’s a very competitive process. They grant only 1.5% of the companies that apply. All the companies that apply are already doing business. We got €2 million.
Sramana Mitra: €2 million in pure grant. That is incredible.
Fred Plais: It’s pretty unbelievable. Even patient and supportive, but having that money changed the game for us.
Sramana Mitra: That’s incredible actually. At what point did you get that grant?
Fred Plais: That was exactly at the right time. That was at the time when we were just in the middle of the pivot. The initial business was not growing so fast anymore. The new business was still very early days. We got that grant. While doing that research, there are a lot of unknowns. You hope it’s going to work. You try things. That has been the constant thing on that project for three years. Without that grant, we wouldn’t have had the number of engineers to crack it. That probably saved us. Looking back, we’re so grateful. The traction we get right now is coming from that effort that we did four years ago.
Sramana Mitra: What revenue run rate did you go out to raise venture financing?
Fred Plais: We were past $10 million ARR.
Sramana Mitra: Because your earlier VCs had been in the deal for quite a while, did they exit or did they stay in?
Fred Plais: We had a mix of people taking an exit and people just doubling down. There were four VCs. Two stayed and two had to go.
Sramana Mitra: What is the configuration of the company today? You said you’re a French-US company. How is the organization arranged?
Fred Plais: We are close to a hundred people now. We’ve got a very diverse team from 15 countries today. We’re totally distributed. Most of our people work from home. The entire team is distributed. We’ve got engineers in US, Canada, and Europe.
Sramana Mitra: You’re running a virtual company with over $10 million ARR?
Fred Plais: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: Excellent. I run a virtual company as well and I love virtual companies. Which VCs did you raise money from?
Fred Plais: We raised from Partech US, BGV, Idinvest, and Inov.