What a difference a year makes for the 2010 BizSpark Summit entrepreneurs
With this year’s edition of the European BizSpark Summit just behind us, we wanted to see what winning the competition meant for last years’ finalists.
We had the chance to talk to them about the impact the Summit had on the development of their businesses. The 2010 European BizSpark joint winners were UK-based Artesian and French start-up Kobojo, both now part of the BizSpark One program, Microsoft program that provides business and technical support for the best and most innovative startups. Since winning the award, both companies have had an incredible year. Here, they describe their journeys and how the Summit has impacted their businesses:
Vincent Vergonjeanne, CEO, Kobojo
What did winning last year’s Summit mean to you?
Winning the Summit was a big trigger for us securing over 5 million Euro investment. We gained huge credibility through the Summit, opening doors to meeting over 30 potential investors and financial advisors. Microsoft was a big help, making introductions and advising us. Since then, we’ve been the first games company invested in by Endeavour Vision in Switzerland and we’ve also had funding from Idinvest, France’s largest VC. There is a high awareness among investors of BizSpark One so again, that gives us a lot of credibility.
How has being part of the BizSpark program helped you?
We’ve always had a tight relationship with Microsoft. While we were still at university, myself and my two co-founders were all either winners or finalists in the Microsoft Imagine Cup for students, and we’ve kept up the relationship with Microsoft ever since. We’ve used the Microsoft Technology Centre in Paris and through BizSpark and the French Microsoft Idees program, we’ve had both business training and technical support. We are now on Windows Azure, which means we can scale up to meet user demand.
So what’s next for Kobojo?
Internationalisation is a big focus for us – for instance, we’ve just opened an office in Madrid and we have other offices in other countries planned. We will continue to localise games IP, taking both our own games and those from other companies and adapting them to individual countries. We localised Barn Buddies as Le Ferme into the French market and had 750,000 in 1.5 months. Mobile is a big push for us, particularly social mobile games, which we see having big growth potential.
Andrew Yates, CEO, Artesian Solutions
So tell us about the past year…
Everything we said we would do, we have done. We can now include three of the top commercial banks in Europe as our customers with more coming on board. We’ve also had success with big pharmaceutical, media and tech sectors. Our software subscriptions are up 700% and we’ve increased the team to 25 people; in fact we expect this to be double that number within a year. We’ve now also got customers in the US and we’re breaking even exactly at the point we forecast – which in a difficult market is great going! Last year, Gartner named as one of their Cool Vendors in the CRM space and they are now tracking us in 19 different reports. Artesian has well and truly arrived. (Me: Wow).
Did winning last year’s Summit make any difference to Artesian Solutions?
Yes. After the Summit, traffic to our website increased by 2000% and we’ve had quite a bit more PR through Microsoft. So the award has given us considerable visibility, increasing our international profile significantly. Being associated with Microsoft definitely lends us additional credibility.”
So what’s next for Artesian?
We’re in negotiations with some big name companies about becoming Artesian customers. We are still considering a round of investment to propel our international expansion. Apart from that, we are continuing to build our business internationally and bringing additional expertise to the team…. so watch this space.