French entrepreneur Charles Miglietti tells the story of how he has bootstrapped first to $5M and then closed a $10M round recently.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Charles Miglietti: I’m from France. I grew up in Normandy. I did engineering. I’m married with three kids.
Sramana Mitra: You still live in Normandy?
Charles Miglietti: I live in Paris now. I learned programming, AI, and data analytics in Ecole. Just after college, I did an internship with Apple in Portland. Then I started working on my first company. We did summaries of web-based content.
Sramana Mitra: Was that B2B?
Charles Miglietti: It was B2C but with no revenue. It was more like a project. This company only lasted for two years. We decided to stop the project as we had no revenue model and clear direction. It helped me to understand how to build a business. It was a very good lesson learned on how you should start with a product, business model, and customers that will pay for what you do.
Sramana Mitra: Good learning.
Charles Miglietti: That’s why I started Toucan Toco with a very iterative approach. At the beginning, I was just consulting for visualization. I wanted to validate that people will pay for a new form of visualization that’s focused on simplicity, UX, and design.
Sramana Mitra: Your consulting practice was to help people with usability?
Charles Miglietti: No, we built visualizations.
Sramana Mitra: Was this data visualization using existing off-the-shelf tools like Tableau or did you have tools of your own?
Charles Miglietti: It was not a tool at the beginning; it was pure development. It helped us to build the first module. It was what became Toucan Toco.
Sramana Mitra: Tell me a bit about the timeframe. When did you start the consulting company?
Charles Miglietti: It was in September of 2013.
Sramana Mitra: How long did you do this in the mode of consulting?
Charles Miglietti: We founded the company in March 2014 in 2014. We stopped doing consulting at the end of 2015. Between September 2013 and April 2014, we were building MVP of Toucan along with consulting. Between April 2014 and December 2015, we had the first implementation of the software.
Sramana Mitra: When you switched from consulting services to doing a product company, what was the thinking? What did you observe that made you do that switch?
Charles Miglietti: Since the very beginning, this is what we wanted to do. We knew that what will truly motivate us was to build a product. We knew that we needed cash to fuel the business. We preferred to find customers rather than to go look for financing.
Sramana Mitra: That’s great. It’s consistent with our strategy and philosophy.
Charles Miglietti: Until now, we haven’t raised any money.
Sramana Mitra: Fantastic.
Charles Miglietti: We are today raising a round but we are at $5 million ARR.