Why we launched Kraaft.co
📖 DeepL.com for French version
Last August, I met with Marc and Renan. We went for drinks, gossiped about VCs and talked industry 4.0 (#geek), before somehow ending up depressed about social inequalities in the world. Classic French moaners in the end… Except that, two months later, Marc and I quit our projects and jobs to launch kraaft.co, backed by the new Startup Studio Renan was building.
So we felt something that night to finally take the plunge. And to be honest, this had little to do with a product, an idea, or even building a company at this stage. This was all about why we fight 💥💥
#1 Think Grounded Innovation 🌎
We’ve all felt overwhelmed by social distress all over the world. In particular in these times of growing inequalities, populism and social fracture. States from the Western world are often pointed out as responsible for over-globalisation and the lack of protection for those more vulnerable to social and economic insecurities. And one may deplore they gave-up to the new political players of the world such as FAMGA and other NATU …
But there is light! 💡 Digital innovation has never created so much value (thanks Yoram Wijngaarde for all your reports) and new startups can now change global markets in just a few months. GOOD 😁😁. Because we don’t like status quo and we believe that digital can empower people and shift global economies.
So, if startups are the new politics, how come that we finance so many hyper-urban free-floating and non-sustainable services and so little projects for intelligent mobility in territories? How come that we have so many B2B SaaS for adtech and so little for agriculture? One may think about these questions and encourage the creation of a more Grounded Innovation.
Grounded as in concrete, humane, down-to-earth and humble. To help the greatest number of people in their daily work and life, and make them feel heard and cared about. Grounded as encouraging unity and equality between groups and territories, for urban centers and rural areas to be balanced and provide similar inner-growth opportunities. Grounded as in engaged and genuine, because radical shifts happen when people have radical beliefs.
#2 Helping the manufacturing industry 🏭
And what’s more grounded that manufacturing industries? They are the bridge between rural and urban worlds, they provide jobs all over territories and generate unique professional inclusion. The factory floor is an amazing school of life, where people from a huge diversity of backgrounds and skills are engaged together to solve problems and achieve common goals. In the end, factories are much more about human nature and organisation than about machine programming. And for all those reasons, we genuinely love this space!
We’re lucky because, today, there exist tremendous opportunities for digital startups in the field. The war to come between tech giants (read the Modèle Tesla from Michael Valentin), incumbents and smaller local companies will be worth watching. But not necessarily pleasant for our territories, if the later were to die…
We want to help manufacturing sites to compete in the digital age and be more attractive. And we are not alone! Running huge industrial facilities is terribly complex, even more so with the current pressure to optimise for cost and productivity. And for several years, startups have emerged to reinvent the factory stack (thanks Robin Dechant for your always-rich Industry 4.0 newsletter).
We are proud to be part of this movement and excited to celebrate the renewal of Industry 4.0 (yes, even in France) ☀️. After all, we are living in the fantastic world of edge computing, co-bots, predictive maintenance, process mining, 3D-printing and other buzzwords politics invent to attract young people to factories again!
#3 Putting human back at the centre 👷♀️
But the main challenge when we talk about Industry Tech remains the cultural shift it needs from managers and the workforce. Software is often synonym of new heavy processes. Investment in automation is an equation that directors understand, but engaging employees, tracking quality issues and conduct root cause analysis is still a language mostly spoken by those who worked in the automotive industry.
We believe it is about to change and that tech companies are to exit the pilot purgatory, to enter an un-precedetended UX revolution of factories.
A lot of effort were made on the past decades to automate production, optimise machine profitability and outsource labor to low-wage countries. But today, industrial groups are moving back to developed countries and new specialised jobs are emerging (read from Nicolas Colin why running out of jobs because of robots is a myth).
And in this renewal of Industry 4.0, a legacy is problematic: human productivity and workers’ engagement have been neglected. Whereas it is clear to us that the factory of the future will not happen without the worker of the future! 👷
This is why our mission is to rethink the global industrial interface to put people back at the centre. And we start by connecting them through their most native communication tool: human voice (to learn more about what we do, visit our website and contact us).
#4 Stay true to our values 💙
To achieve all this work, we need an amazing team that shares our values. We want to build a strong community that reflects how we see the future of manufacturing and territories. And we have four adjectives that we strive to put at the center of our day-to-day interactions and choices.
Grounded — We like honest relationships, we strive for humility, we don’t keep hardships unspoken, we value concreteness, we listen to our clients day-to-day needs and we stay product-first.
Radical — We really believe that we can make a difference and we will fight hard for it! We are building an ambitious global company and see our product scale as a way to conduct a cultural shift in manufacturing.
Peaceful — We want to make sure everyone has the space to grow, isn’t overwhelmed with stress, and feels great coming at work. We also adopt the best practices from field performance management that any manager 4.0 would implement in a factory, to ensure alignment and bottom-up processes.
Familial — We all need roots to build-up from; once you’re in, you’re part of the family forever 👨👨👧👧👨👩👦👩👩👧👦.
Join us! ✌️
We have just launched our MVP (excited!!). Surely our product will be completely different in a year from now but our values are here for the long run. So if you feel aligned with why we fight, join us: we are looking for new people to join the team! 💪💪🏿💪🏻💪🏽
Visit us at www.kraaft.co
Marc & Thomas