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Startup – Keeneo

Benoit Georis, co-founder: "Investing on all fronts"

Portrait Benoit Georis 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

Keywords: Benoît Georis Keeneo Video surveillance