French entrepreneur and Toucan Toco CEO
Charles Miglietti tells the story of how he has bootstrapped first to $5
million and then closed a $10 million round.
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?
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?
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
Sramana Mitra: Was
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
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?
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?
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?
Miglietti: It was in September of 2013.
Sramana Mitra: How
long did you do this in the mode of consulting?
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?
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.
Miglietti: Until now, we haven’t raised any money.
Sramana Mitra: Fantastic.
Miglietti: We are today raising a round but we are at $5 million ARR.