The startup of the day: GenMyModel, a simplified environment for developing in SaaS
Frenchweb invites you to discover today Axellience, a startup based in Lille, at Euratechnologies [en savoir plus avec le FrenchWeb Tour Lille 2013, ndlr], which publishes GenMyModel, a “software design and production environment in SaaS mode aimed at IT developers and IT architects”.
More details with Alexis Muller, Thomas Legrand and Stéphane Deveaux, the three co-founders of Axellience.
Frenchweb: How did you get the idea for your company?
Alexis Muller, Thomas Legrand and Stéphane Deveaux : We are in 2010, in the research laboratories of INRIA-Nord Europe and are working on technologies for acceleration of software development based on design models. The work is fruitful and important advances are made within the research team.
When I discuss these results with relatives who work in SSII (Company of services in computer engineering, editor’s note), I quickly realize that there is an opportunity. It was from there that we started working on the project. After a period of study within INRIA, we chose to join Euratechnologies, the Lille center dedicated to digital technology in 2011.
What need are you responding to?
To design software, developers need modeling tools that support the most common languages (UML for example). The market today offers solutions desktop very powerful technologically, but they are, more often than not, reserved for experts. There is clearly an expectation for simpler, more collaborative tools (allowing teamwork), more suited to agile development methods.
With SaaS mode, there is a “new deal” in the developer’s toolbox, just look at the recent successes of GitHub, Codenvy or cloud9. Only UML modeling tools had not yet made their revolution. It’s now done with GenMyModel, the first collaborative modeling tool in SaaS mode which has already convinced more than 20,000 developers in just a few months.
Very simply, how do you make money?
We are currently offering a beta and completely free version of the software. In the course of 2014, we will switch to commercial mode. The business model will be that of the sale of monthly subscriptions. Prices may vary from a few euros per month and per user to more than 100 euros per month for the most complete formulas.
Who are your competitors?
There are similar initiatives emerging in Czechia and South Korea but for the moment, GenMyModel has no equivalent in SaaS mode. Our competitors are therefore the traditional desktop tools so far used in development teams. They are carried by large companies like IBM, Embarcadero, Sybase (SAP) …
What or which companies are you being compared to in error?
We are sometimes compared to online drawing tools like Lucidchart, Gliffy or Cacoo which offer to draw diagrams in web mode. But there is a big difference with what we propose because a drawing – by definition completely free – cannot be equivalent to a design model whose validity and conformity to language is always assured. GenMyModel makes it possible to produce real models used in software architecture, it is not a drawing tool.
What was one of the first issues in your development, and how did you deal with it?
Between the starting point – a technology from a research laboratory – and the objective – a product potentially intended to be distributed to 20 million developers around the world – there was a distance to be covered. This distance, we had to find the means to finance it. Funding our R&D and launching the public beta has been a key topic. We have chosen to seek external financing and to limit as much as possible the sale of services unrelated to our R&D project.
The funds we have obtained come from honor loans, the national competition from the Ministry of Research (we were winners in 2011 and 2012), a bank loan and various aids and subsidies (Region, BPI). We are currently on the verge of finalizing a first round of fundraising from investors.
What is your main asset in this market?
With GenMyModel, we are the first to change the situation in a market which had finally changed very little since 2007. Undoubtedly, there is a great advantage to being the first in this case because we have the opportunity to become a reference news.
What is the best advice you have been given and by whom?
As quickly as possible, put our software “in the hands of the users” and talk to them. It’s the best way to avoid developing a great tech tool that no one else will use.
FW: Which personality do you admire the most?
For his ability to innovate and train, Elon Musk, the co-founder of Paypal and Tesla Motors. He also has very ambitious and very long-term projects like Hyperloop and SpaceX.
Founders: Alexis Muller, Thomas Legrand, Stéphane Deveaux
Investors: entry planned for 2014
Creation date: 2012
Number of employees: 6
Company based in: Lille, Euratechnologies