4 months at OrangeFab France

4 months ago, we were selected by the OrangeFab France accelerator, one of the many corporate accelerators that have beginning to swarm in the recent years in France (Jean de La Rochebrochard mentioned it a month ago)

When I think about the last 4 months, I have the feeling that Comet is simply not the same as it ever was. We have accomplished more work in 4 months than we could have imagined.

Needless to say that at the beginning, we had no expectations about this short term program and we didn’t really know what could happen.

Here is the timeline from the first time I heard about OrangeFab to the “end” of our acceleration.

Season3 - “Sorry but not this time — try again”

One of my best friend Florian, who co-founded Docorga, went through OrangeFab season1 with his previous startup.

When he advised me to apply with Crossroad (now Comet), I had never heard about this program and didn’t know what could be expected from it. I only knew the renowed accelerator (TechStars, Y Combinator, 500 Startups, …) but never heard about the Orange & french ones.

Based on what he told me (“dude, it won’t cost you anyhting to apply except time”) , I decided to have a look at the F6S Orange form where I could find some information, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure it could be interesting for us… (or for any startup)

“Ok, let’s take 30min to fill this form and no one will blame me for not trying!” (truth is it took me half a day)

So here I am, applying with Crossroad for the #season3 in March 2015.

1 month later, I received a call from Pascal Latouche (@LatoucheP) telling me that Crossroad was pre-selected for the final jury, in 5 days.

Woot? Cool! And why exactly?

Because one business unit likes your product and what you do, they want to know more about Crossroad — Pascal

1 week later, after a good pitch, I finally learned that Crossroad had not been accepted. Great startups you may know (Afrostream, Famoco or Lucie Labs for instance) had passed the cut but unfortunalty, we couldn’t make it.

Why, again? It was a bit to early for us and the business unit which was interested realised it was also to early for them to work with startups.

Season4 - “A new hope”

3 months later, Crossroad was one of the partners of #PFE and I met Anna H. on her OrangeFab booth at the Paris Dauphine edition. I learned that the applications would open soon.

(Anna H. is the former Project manager of OrangeFab France, she know works in a famous french accelerator)

August 2015 ; I fill this #season4 form the same way I did for the third one, and 1 month later, here we are, selected for the final jury in October, again!

Then again, pitching Crossroad to the same persons, in the same room, with more metrics to show (we publicly launched our beta in July, our user base had grown, we got good press and were more confident than ever).

1 week later, Pascal Latouche called me. “This time, you’re in, well done!”

Obvious teaching: if it doesn’t work once, try twice

A real and true startup lover

We finally managed to do it and the Season4 was officialy launched in October, the 12th.

Pascal Latouche kicked off the program and scheduled 1h meeting with all the startups (we are 7 in this 4th season).

From the very beginning, he had been crystal clear:

If you are here, it means an Orange Business Unit has an idea about how it could work with you and I will do all what I can to help you sign a partnership with it before the end of the program.

And guess what: most of the season4 startups signed a contract with an Orange BU or with one of their partners.

The main goal of Pascal and his team is to create value for Orange throught startups, AND to help startups grow through Orange. He his completly devoted to these goals and works a lot (nights and weekends) to achieve them.

He perfectly knows how startups work, that they don’t have the same relation to time than big corporations. That their team need to be fast if we want these partnerships to be successful.

Easier access to the business units linked to your market

So we started the mentoring and coaching sessions, and finally met our business unit partner: Patrice A. He is in charge of the business development for one of the Cloud department at Orange.

And guess what: he also knows how to work with startups!

It may not sound so complicated indeed, but when this person does his best to sign a contract with you in less than 3 months, it’s quite impressive, especially for such a huge partner. Of course we worked a lot together to prepare all the details of our partnership (contract / specification / roadmap /marketing & communication…) but it has been incredibily fast and Patrice has been very helpfull.

Now this partnership has been announced (here for instance), we are dealing with other business units and new partnerships could emerge, who knows ;)

Easier access to international

3 months ago, thanks to OrangeFab, Aurélien and I went to Seoul in order to meet potentiel partners. I wrote about this trip here (French)

We are going back to Seoul & Tokyo next week to meet them again as new potential partners, and thanks to Orange again which organized the introductions! We hope to have some huge announcement to make soon.

Orange also invited us on their booth at the MWC. It was an awesome experience where we met potentiel partners (mobile providers, telecom operators, …). I’m going to write a special post about the MWC later.

Aurélien pitching Comet on Orange booth
Orange booth - Aurélien (iOs dev) & Alex (Android dev) arguing iOS against Android, again..

To sum up, in 4 months we really were “accelerated” by OrangeFab. If I was to list all the significant steps Comet has made on its own and with the coaching of Orange teams:

  • we changed our name (full rebranding)
  • we went to Asia to meet new partners & investors
  • we raised funds
  • our user base keep growing
  • we got more than 700 user feedbacks which helped us improve our apps A LOT (new version of Comet available soon)
  • we signed an awesome partnership with Orange Cloud: Comet will enter the Orange Cloud apps portfolio
  • we are discussing with other business units at Orange (device, internal & external communication, …)
  • we are discussing and meeting others international partners

A big thank you to Orange, OrangeFab France and more particulary Pascal and his team, Anna, Marielle, Landy and Tiffany who worked (and continue) a lot with us to help my team bring Comet to the next level.

Alex, Aurel, Math, Flo, Thom - our awesome geeky (too masculine) team