Do you remember when you first started? Flowlity was launched in 2019 with COVID-19 just on the horizon! How did the crisis impact your operations?
JB: The health crisis has more or less always been in the background for Flowlity. The hardest part was building our client portfolio between March and May. For those three months, the economy was literally in a state of shock. Then, from June onwards, many projects started to emerge one after the other, notably the go-live with La Redoute; it was the beginning of a beautiful story! Afterward, we experienced over 100% growth each year.
Karim: We were subject to uncertainty. The software was no longer a priority for customers, but the results were positive in the end. The health crisis highlighted the underlying logistical issues that already existed and customers felt the constraints of their old software! It became more urgent to invest in more flexible, efficient, and modern software.
Were you expecting to grow this much so quickly?
JB: We were not really prepared for this, so it was a nice surprise! We were amazed to be able to stick to a business plan which is by nature always very optimistic. Afterwards, as Karim said, the crisis caused many to question digitalization and the resiliency of the current supply chains. This allowed Flowlity to be in the right place at the right time.
Karim: Yes, Flowlity is an ambitious project, but we are happy with the progress we have made and are looking forward to the next step!
What are your ambitions? What do you plan to do with the money you have raised?
JB: Expanding the Flowliteam is our first priority. The ambition is to expand our sales team in Europe and then around the world. This will facilitate further growth. From a product point of view, the idea is to bring maximum value to our users and invest even more in scalability and security. We want to support a growing number of European companies in their planning challenges and help them to reduce their waste. Flowlity is fully committed to a responsible approach and contributes to reducing its customers’ carbon footprint.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
JB: We would like to be the most helpful and most popular supply chain planning solution in the European market, with the greatest ecological, financial and human impact on our industrial and retail customers.
Karim: Yes, the idea is to continue accelerating and be the leader in the sector in terms of software, performance, and optimization. We want Flowlity to be synonymous with planning across Europe and beyond!
Can each of you name your main challenges?
JB: We are in a competitive market with many players, a market that has been served by too many disappointing solutions in the past. This has led to an inevitable disillusionment. We have to address that and give the best possible experience in a challenging market with a certain number of constraints. It’s a tough fight every day.
Karim: I think that in a start-up, you have the human challenge of finding the right people with the correct values to allow you to grow. After all, as Jean-Baptiste mentioned, we are dealing with a reasonably old subject, and finding the right solution for this growing sector, being scalable, and capturing the whole market, is a real challenge! It is doable, and we will do it step by step.
I’m an entrepreneur, and I want to start my own business tomorrow. What will I need?
JB: Resilience. The ability to deal with setbacks and continually improve is critical. And this is no matter what market you’re in. You always have to push your product, push the customer experience, and push to get the right team. That is really the key to success. Agility, resilience, and the ‘dream team.’
Karim: I would say be surrounded by the right people. Recruit the right profiles for the right positions at the right time. The entrepreneurial adventure is, above all, a human adventure.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs about approaching an investment fund? Is there any particular method that you would recommend?
Karim: Generally speaking, funds contact start-ups. It is better not to be in permanent discussion with them as the task is too time-consuming! When the time comes, engage with those who have contacted you. Don’t just think about the financial aspect. Because apart from the money, these people will also become part of the company! And it is more interesting for everyone if they have an incentive to impact the company by contributing their expertise. You have to get on board with people who really want to join the adventure!
JB: That’s right! Investors are not just a source of money. They are people who allow us to organize ourselves, develop the right strategy, capture a market, and harness their expertise. Flowlity, for example, brings in strong expertise from Fortino and 42 Cap. We also bring in senior people from the industry. Edouard Fourcade, for instance, brings in real corporate sales experience. In addition, we have Peter Schram, who has genuine business expertise. He has worked for Gartner, has a good understanding of supply chains, and knows how to communicate the right message. The fundraising allows you to take a step forward in structuring, consulting, and governance.
Anything else to add? Any advice? A motivational phrase for any budding entrepreneurs?
JB: I would always say the same thing. We often have the impression that we are not making progress. But by persisting, over and over again, even without realizing it, you make progress. When you look back, you’ll say, “Wow, I did that! ”. You know, the vast majority of entrepreneurs are incredibly brilliant people. But that ability not to give up makes the difference between them. If it were easy to become Elon Musk today, everyone would be (laughs). It takes a lot of resilience to get there!
Karim: I totally agree. The life of an entrepreneur is full of ups and downs, and bad moments shouldn’t be seen as failures but as learning moments! Be careful not to make the same mistakes again, and above all, work in a sector that you are committed to and passionate about. Flowlity, for example, has an impact on industries, the environment, people, etc. It’s very stimulating! Keep in mind that this is a long adventure. It’s not a sprint but a marathon.
Could you name a quality that you believe you don’t have, but the other does?
JB: I tend to be in the execution, head down at times. I believe that Karim has a greater ability to step back and say, ”maybe this is not the right direction”. That’s a quality I give him a lot of credit for.
Karim: Thank you (laughs). I think that when it comes to communication, Jean-Baptiste is clear in his message and his vision. He has this ease in getting everyone on board, whether they are clients or potential employees. It’s definitely something he does better than me.
After raising €5 million, Flowlity is prepared to revolutionize supply chain planning in Europe and soon further afield!