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[Podcast] From a student project to 25 employees: the story of Havr

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In this new podcast, I had the pleasure to talk with Simon Laurent, the co-founder of Havr, a company that markets a connected lock (Brightlock) that can be activated by a light beam (nothing like Star Wars, this is LiFi technology). I discovered this company through the Challenges 2019 ranking because it was looking for funds to accelerate its development. The entrepreneurial story is interesting in more ways than one and deserves to be discovered in this podcast. The technology product it markets is highly innovative, the origin of the idea is to be found in a TedTalk, and the growth trajectory is remarkable with an increase from 8 to 25 employees in 18 months. Last but not least, it is 100% Made in France.

5 key figures

  • 8 employees in January 2019
  • 25 employees in March 2020
  • 34 months between the launch of the company and industrialisation
  • 16 product iterations
  • more than 100 tests performed

A highly innovative product

I’ll do the best I can to describe the product launched by Havr. It’s a connected lock that is unlocked via a light code. It’s your smartphone that acts as the key thanks to the LED light that acts as a flash when you take pictures. A unique sequence, corresponding to a light code, is sent to the lock, which recognises it, processes it, and authorises access if the code is correct. The product is called Brightlock and is the first connected lock to use Lifi technology. If you’re wondering what LiFi is, take a look at the Wikipedia definition of LiFi and watch the short explanatory video below.

Li-Fi (or Light Fidelity) is a wireless communication technology based on the use of visible light with a wavelength between 480 nm (670 THz, blue-green) and 650 nm (460 THz, orange-red). While Wi-Fi uses a radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum outside the visible spectrum, Li-Fi uses the visible (optical) part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The principle of Li-Fi is based on the coding and transmission of data via the amplitude modulation of light sources (scintillation invisible to the eye), according to a well-defined and standardised protocol.

 

The major milestones in the development of Havr

The history of Havr can be summed up in 3 major milestones:

  • October 2016: conception of the idea based on a TedTalk viewed by Simon Laurent
  • March 2017: Kick-Off of the project
  • December 2019: inauguration of the production line in Honfleur (France).

As Simon Laurent explains, Brightlock’s idea came after he watched a TedTalk about the possibilities of LiFi technology. The idea that germinated then turned into a student project.

In a little over three years, we have gone from an entrepreneurial idea to a finished product, produced in series. Of course, it hasn’t been a comfortable journey, and it’s this adventure that Simon Laurent tells us about in the podcast. The transition from start-up to scale-up was made possible in particular thanks to bank funds, thus ensuring that the capital was not diluted.

From market research to industrialisation

Simon Laurent used simple techniques to carry out his market research (you will find them in steps 1 and 2 of our market research methodology). He first relied on external advice to evaluate his idea (step 1). He then made prototypes that he had tested (step 2) and then improved them. In doing so, he also built a network of prospects who would become potential customers the day the product was finalised.

Favour proximity and know-how over cost optimisation

Simon Laurent has therefore proceeded by successive iterations to obtain a product in line with the needs of its market. It is a pragmatic approach to market research, well adapted to situations such as his where the product, highly innovative, does not yet exist on the market. He also made sure to work with a local network of suppliers, favouring speed of reaction over cost optimisation.

How do you succeed as a young entrepreneur?

Simon Laurent, co-founder of Havr

Simon Laurent, co-founder of Havr

Havr was launched by its co-founders (Alexandre Ballet and Simon Laurent) at the end of their studies. Without an established network, how then to reach the right people, the decision-makers? They are the ones who will be able to give constructive feedback on the product and their needs on the one hand, and on the other hand, to get involved. As Havr is targeting a B2B market as a priority, this question was therefore raised very quickly. Simon Laurent explains in the podcast that innovation is at the heart of all companies. It is a strategic issue. This subject is therefore managed by management. The ability to offer an innovative product, which represents a growth relay for customers, makes it easier to open doors. However, the meeting is not an end in itself, and you have to know how to set objectives to make a first meeting productive. When you have the opportunity to get such an appointment, be sure to set yourself a goal (another meeting, the realisation of a Proof-Of-Concept).


 

The ability to offer an innovative product, which represents a growth driver for customers, makes it easier to open doors.

 

On IntoTheMinds’ podcasts

To listen to or replay our podcasts on marketing and entrepreneurship, go to this page. Every week we publish a new podcast with an inspiring entrepreneur whom we interview about the launch of his or her business, the characteristics of his or her market and the techniques he or she has used to analyse it.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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