For those who do not yet know, this is a French and sovereign collaborative platform. This interview will allow us to better understand the motivations and ambitions of our national entrepreneurs, but also their attachment to creating value in France.
[Emmanuel M] : Hello Lionel, you created Wimi in 2010, could you define me wimi in one sentence?
[Lionel Roux] : Wimi is a sovereing and secure collaborative solution to work in project mode.
I discovered Wimi by searching for a collaborative tool and videoconferencing on the net, to find existing French solutions that are concerned with digital sovereignty. What motivated you to be in this niche?
When Wimi was created, the US Patriot Act was already a legal scarecrow, posing a serious threat to data privacy. Wimi is mainly aimed at companies and it seemed logical to us to include the protection of their data in our promise, particularly in terms of confidentiality.
In addition, I observe every day a worrying dependence of French companies on North American software which is subject to American extraterritorial regulations. Personally and as a citizen, I am happy to work to reduce this dependence by offering a sovereign solution for collaborative work.
With the current Coronavirus crisis, we have seen telework exploding. What impact has this had, in terms of growth in the number of customers, in performance for your platform?
We noted a massive increase in usage at first (x3 on document sharing, x5 on task management, x10 on instant discussions, x20 on video, etc.).
We also observed a strong acceleration on registrations (around x3), especially on our free Covid-19 offers.
To continue to provide excellent quality of service, we have multiplied the capacity of our platform by 4.
On your site you recommend limiting the number of participants to 15 for videoconferencing, although the possibility is theoretically unlimited. Beyond this threshold, are stability or fluidity problems to be expected or is it rather a practical recommendation?
It is mostly good operational practice. Indeed, meetings of more than 15, where everyone can speak, often end in appalling cacophony.
It is also true that some computers can reach their technical limits (CPU, bandwidth, etc.) when the number of participants exceeds 15.
To get a little more into the “technical” aspect, can you tell us more about your hosting architectures and solutions? Do you own your own Data Center?
We have a dedicated server infrastructure. This means that our customers’ data is physically partitioned.
We manage and control all of our infrastructure which is part of the competitive advantages of our solution. Thus, we apply the best security practices, we set up our own backup strategies, we constantly optimize our server resources with our product developments.
Our platform uses servers located on two separate Datacenters from Scaleway (Illiad group).
You launched the Armored Wimi service at the end of 2019. Did you meet the expected success with this offer? Can you confirm your awareness of the sovereignty of our data and solutions but also of the importance of securing our environments?
Wimi Armoured has no equivalent on the market today. It is the first encrypted end-to-end collaborative work platform (“0 knowledge”) that provides an unparalleled level of confidentiality and security.
Our customers, private companies or public organizations, needed a simple, intuitive, efficient and perfectly secure collaborative solution to calmly manage all types of data and exchanges (messages, documents, tasks, calendars, video and sharing of screen) in connection with sensitive or very sensitive projects.
The market has evolved considerably on the importance of digital sovereignty. First, there was the NSA / Snowden scandal, which sparked a first wave of distrust, and then others came to reinforce the concerns (eg Cambridge Analytica / Facebook). The introduction of the GDPR has definitely contributed to a broad awareness of the risks hanging over our data.
Once this pandemic crisis has passed, what is your roadmap for the coming months? Do you have new innovations in mind for your application? Are other products in the pipeline, of course if it can be communicated ?
We have a busy roadmap for 2020, 2021 and 2022. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal all the details of the innovations that are coming, but one of them concerns the emotional bond that must be present for a team to give its full potential.…
What are your achievements in this adventure of which you are most proud ?
First of all, I am particularly proud to have achieved financial equilibrium 2 years ago. In our field, this is quite rare because the aim is often to be sold quickly rather than to create a long-term player.
Then, I feel very proud that our solution is used by more than 55,000 organizations, including particularly prestigious clients (eg Total, Sephora, National Assembly, Ministries, …).
Finally, I am extremely proud of my team, their involvement and their commitment to the vision. We collectively wish to establish ourselves sustainably as a benchmark player in sovereign collaborative work.
If this information is not confidential, can we have a brief summary table of your business and financial results? Are you confident about Wimi’s future ?
We do not communicate on our financial data but on this page are the main steps taken to date.
For the future, we are calm and enthusiastic. Driven by a dynamic of sustained growth (60% / year), we are perfectly positioned on current challenges: collaborative work, agility, security, sovereignty.
Doesn’t the performance of your platform and its undeniably user-friendly side stoke the appetites of competitors? Is there a risk of passage under the US flag ?
The quality of the user experience is indeed at the heart of our concerns. This is an endless but fascinating subject. In particular, it conditions user adoption. We are also planning an interface redesign (Version 7) in early 2021.
There is no risk of going under the US flag because our positioning is based on being a sovereign player.
Did this entrepreneurial adventure go as you imagined? Is Wimi the application, the solution, that you imagined when you started ?
The entrepreneurial adventure did not go absolutely as planned … but it is normal;) It is not for nothing that we call it an “adventure” …
On the product side, the current application is perfectly in line with the initial vision (no product pivot).
What conclusion would you like to bring to this interview?
I am happy to have been able to testify via this interview. I sincerely hope that entrepreneurship will continue to develop in France. Finally, I am happy that the subject of digital sovereignty is finally emerging.