Devialet in four ranges –

by bold-lichterman

First there were the rave reviews in the specialist audio press, led by the English magazine Hi-Fi News. Then there were these 12 million euros raised at the end of 2012 from the barons of the French Web Marc Simoncini – Jacques-Antoine Granjon – Xavier Niel and Bernard Arnault.

What to draw attention to Devialet, Parisian SME of 70 people who claims to hold THE technological breakthrough in amplified audio. It generated 5 million euros in turnover in 2013 and expects 15 million in 2014. One of the next nuggets among French technology companies? The partition Devialet deserved to be scanned.

Range I: ADH technology

In 2003, Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel, co-founder and “techno” pillar of the company, was director of a research laboratory at Nortel Networks. The Internet bubble having passed by there, the investments in the telecoms are at half mast. Obsessed with the idea of ​​succeeding in overcoming the problems of sound distortion during amplification, he decided to succeed in combining analog and digital technology in the same technology. For the signal, it makes the most of analog (class A), for power, it selects digital (class B).

Inspection of a printed circuit at Seprolec, a Normandy subcontractor of Devialet (photo credit: Devialet)

A year later, he filed in France and the United States a first patent to protect the technology he had just invented: ADH (Analog Digital Hybrid). The development of the technology continued until July 2010, when the first commercial offer was launched: the D-premier, which in eighteen months would become the most awarded product in audio history..

Range II: 3 complementary co-founders

2006 marks the date on which Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel meets his future partners: designer Emmanuel Nardin, and his cousin, Quentin Sannié, then boss of his business strategy consulting company with major accounts. “We founded Devialet at par, contributing 33% of the shares each so as to embody three equal pillars: technology, design, and business strategy, says Quentin Sannié. Everyone in our fields, we want to set the bar as high as possible (…) I admire what they do a lot and what I could bring is a high level of ambition, based on their talent. . Pierre-Emmanuel is Edison! My role is to push my associates to their limits, I am very involved in action, them more in design ”.

Quentin Sannié (photo credit: Adeline Raynal)

“I am anxious about the passing of time, my contribution to the project is also to want to go far, quickly, when Pierre-Emmanuel and Emmanuel are more phlegmatic (…) an entrepreneur is a worried optimist, there is necessarily a part paranoia, for fear that others will arrive faster on the market ”confides this 51-year-old entrepreneur, father of four boys, before continuing:“ There are two very important things in a company: the common vision and the attention to the details, ”he said, pointing to the electrical wires protruding slightly from the other side of the room in which the interview takes place. The trio will be joined in 2009 by Manuel de La Fuente.

When the company moved to rue de Réaumur in Paris in February 2011, there were only 5 in the 750 m2 area. Today, the place is almost lacking. “We are six per office” we say in a corridor. The company is structured according to 5 poles. Three under the authority of Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel: the technical department (software, technical, electronics R&D – around 25 people), the design and product department (6 people), the operations department (industry / logistics – 7/8 people) ). The finance department, made up of six people, is headed by Marianne Santos Dulauroy and the sales department (around twenty employees) is under the responsibility of Manuel de La Fuente. Collective emulation occupies an important place: “everyone wants to impress with the level of quality they are going to invent” describes Quentin Sannié, who likes to say to his teams: “Come with your dreams”.

Range III: 17.7 million euros raised

At four at the end of 2009, Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel, Quentin Sannié, Emmanuel Nardin and Manuel de La Fuente are looking to raise funds. Discussions with investment funds begin but the vision does not stick: “They force-feed me, I know how to set up a business plan!” launches Quentin Sannié to his associates. He has just spent twenty years advising large accounts on their business strategy. The first fundraising will be done in part thanks to its well-supplied address book.

In front of the premises of Devialet in Paris (photo credit: Adeline Raynal)

On February 18, 2010, around forty people, executives at major accounts, entrepreneurs, consultants, lawyers, financiers, were invited to an evening in an art gallery in central Paris. In a small room plunged in darkness, the guests listen in small groups to a version of “Vissi d’Arte” by Tosca, the opera by Giacomo Puccini. More than long speeches, the co-founders of Devialet rely on the emotion aroused by this hearing via ADH technology. Bingo! “The objective of the evening was to raise 1 million euros, we collected investment promises for 1.4 million that day” says the one who listens to Chopin, Mozart as well as Matthieu Chedid or by Dire Straits. 1.1 million euros will ultimately be raised.

2011 marks the second fundraising: 1.6 million euros from the same group of investors. The third fundraising will be much more publicized: 15 million raised in November 2012 including 3 million from historical investors and 12 million from Marc Simoncini, Jacques-Antoine Granjon, Xavier Niel and Bernard Arnault. “Marc Simoncini was the first to say yes, then one brought the other” describes the CEO of Devialet. For the moment, there is no new round table scheduled.

Range IV: A niche market worth 1 billion euros

Since, Devialet is pursuing an ambitious objective: to become the world leader in the high-end sound amplification market, on which it sells around 2 billion amplification units each year. The brand’s systems – manufactured in Normandy – are distributed through 288 stores around the world, including ten in France. A subsidiary opened in Singapore in 2013, another in Sao Paulo. By the end of 2014, another should open in Shanghai and then one in New York. The price for a complete listening system (Devialet Ensemble) is 6,990 euros, but a set can cost between 5,990 and 22,900 euros.

“We are targeting a very fragmented market that weighs around 1 billion euros, including 400 million in electronics. Our customers are many private individuals, amateurs of hi-fi, music and aesthetes who love beautiful objects ”specifies Quentin Sannié. The main competitors are Anglo-Saxon: Mcintosh (United States), Linn (United Kingdom), but you also have to reckon with the Japanese Accuphase and the Franco-Briton Naim Audio for example.

In the Maison showroom Devialet in Paris (photo credit: Adeline Raynal)
Listen in the shop Devialet in Paris (photo credit: Adeline Raynal)
The 750 m2 of premises are located in an Eiffel building in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris (photo credit: Devialet)

Photo of Une: From left to right: Emmanuel Nardin, Manuel de La Fuente, Quentin Sannié (seated) and Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel (photo credit: Devialet)