“I found the ecosystem here favorable for developing a young company”
NauticSpot has got the wind in its sails. A finalist in the innovation competition at the last Paris Boat Show, winner of the Intelligent Mobility Trophy at the Occitanie Innov conference, winner of the Graines de Boss-M6 competition...the Montpellier startup founded in 2017 sells connected solutions that optimize occupation at marinas and communication with boaters. Installed on boats and docking buoys, the company’s sensors monitor berths in real-time, while a mobile application offers services to boaters. The company has set its sights on exports. NauticSpot plans to equip fifty ports in 2020, and twice that number in 2021, while expanding its team from four to twelve employees.
Why did you choose Montpellier?
I first fell in love with the area. Given the nature of my project, it then seemed more credible for me to set up near the sea, rather than staying in Paris where I had previously been working in business tourism. I also knew that I would find an ecosystem favorable for developing a young company here, starting with the largest startup incubator in Europe.
Thanks to a partnership with the Electronics department (1) of the University of Montpellier, with its specialization in embedded systems for harsh environments NauticSpot was able to design an innovative solution that takes into account water, wind, salt, and boat movement. Also, we found the engineering services firm that we needed in Montpellier, and an industrial partner able to assemble the components in our sensors.
How did Montpellier BIC and its teams contribute to your success?
An entrepreneur can show up with an idea that he believes in, but that can quickly be dragged out in too many directions. Teams at Montpellier BIC provided us with the guidance we needed to move forward in the right direction without skipping any steps, and work on finding our market. For NauticSpot, this involved first targeting harbor masters rather than recreational boaters.
Being approved by the BIC also opened access to various sources of aid, such as the French Tech fund at Bpifrance and the Innovation Contract by the Occitanie Region. Today, we participate in many training sessions offered by Montpellier BIC, which still works with us closely. They introduced us to the Entreprendre network, which is more generally focused on developing the skills necessary for management.
How did you implement your commitments regarding social and environmental aspects at your company?
NauticSpot is not yet big enough to set up a corporate social responsibility plan internally. Nonetheless, our solutions are along those lines. By automating some time-consuming tasks that do not offer any real value added, we optimize work for harbor master staff leading to better quality of service for recreational boaters and also highlighting the tourist appeal of a given destination. Thanks to our connected solution, there is no need to take out a Zodiac and use fuel to take inventory of docking buoys. In addition, by working with other companies on ecological anchor chains, we promote respect for the sea floor and aquatic life.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start a company?
When you have an idea, you have to take it all the way, even though you know that creating a company represents a lot of work and many sacrifices. On the other hand, it is a fascinating job that gets you away from regular office routine. In order to take on a variety of aspects ranging from research to sales, accounting, and law, it is best to keep an open mind and remain curious. All project leaders also need to have solid assistance in order to channel their ideas and steer them towards concrete considerations.
How do you envision the innovative company of tomorrow in Montpellier?
Go to Montpellier BIC and you’ll find out! Innovation is, above all, an extension of yourself. But it must also solve some type of problem with solutions that save time and money, while also offering additional services. Innovating also means working intelligently with existing players to benefit from the ecosystem and identify opportunities.
(1) Institute of Electronics and Systems (IES), joint CNRS / University of Montpellier research laboratory