Startup – Keeneo
Benoit Georis, co-founder: "Investing on all fronts"
Benoit Georis, co-fondateur de Keeneo - © Inria / photo G. Scagnelli
Benoît Georis is co-founder of Keeneo, an Inria startup founded in 2005 which developed an intelligent video surveillance software solution (intrusion detection) intended for large companies and designed to protect their site perimeters. The company was bought in 2011 by Digital Barriers, which still markets the product. Benoît Georis tells us about the development of Keeneo.
"The company really began to grow as of 2006: At a trade show in Paris, Thomas Herlin and I met a sales executive who was also looking for a new adventure. I agreed to take him on if he could bring us a new client. In the next few months, he won us a contract with the Renault Technocentre, in Paris, for 200 cameras. That was our first major order, a contract worth over 200,000 euros, which is a huge development for a startup. That was moment the company really began to take-off: France Télécom, Renault and, shortly after, Les Aéroports de Paris. One thing led to another, and the company began to grow. Our staff grew from five to twelve employees in just one year. In 2007, we launched an initial pool with the business angels who financed this growth, leveraging funds through bank loans, regional loans, etc. This meant that I could take on top personnel and set up a Board of Directors: I really learned a great deal!"
"We continued to invest heavily on all fronts. The R&D department was made larger in order to expand our product range and meet increasingly diverse demands. Of course, we had to be selective about these, but, at the same time, take them into account if we wanted to attract new clients - it was quite a balancing act. We had also built up the sales force in France when Thomas Herlin went international and we looked for a marketing guru who knew the sector, an American. In 2008, we raised 1.6 million euros, which led to further international expansion: we had client references in Bulgaria, Turkey, the US, and in the United Arab Emirates, where we won a contract for 2,000 cameras with Qatar... We worked with partners such as Thalès and Alcatel which gave us an edge in bidding for tender contracts."
Key dates for Keeneo
2004 : Keeneo project supported by the Paca-Est incubator
2005 : Keeneo set up, with Benoît Georis, an Inria engineer, as Chairman and Thomas Herlin as CEO
2005 : Keeneo wins Oséo startup-development competition, with a prize of 300,000 euros
2006 : the company's first clients are Renault, France Télécom and Les Aéroports de Paris
2008 : capital of 1.6 million euros raised
2008-2010 : Keeneo annual sales reach 1 million euros; 17 employees
2011 : bought by British company Digital Barriers
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Start-up Inria 2005-2017
The technology companies originating from Inria manufacture products stemming from research prototypes or disseminate the know-how acquired by the Institute. Their founding teams include a former member of an Inria team.