Founder Interview: OpenDataSoft CEO Jean-Marc Lazard discusses the importance of putting the customer first

Aug 28, 2013
Vote on Hacker News

opendatasoftThroughout the month of August, the Rude Baguette will be running a series of interviews with some of France’s top and rising entrepreneurs, where they’ll share their reflections on their year thus far, their plans through the end of the year and how they manage their businesses through the August down period. In this installment, we talk with Jean-Marc Lazard, CEO and founder of OpenDataSoft.

OpenDataSoft makes it easier to publish, visualize and share Open Data online. Their turnkey platform was developed for those in charge of Open Data in the public sphere as well as media organizations, but is now also used by other private companies for external and/or internal data visualization sharing. They already have some heavy hitting clients onboard, such as Veolia Environnement, the Île-de-France region, and Ouest France, which has enabled them to achieve profitability just a year and a half after their founding. CEO and founder Jean-Marc Lazard shares some insights about their amazing second year, marked by their rapid growth driven by the on-boarding of several new key clients, and discusses their committment to putting the customer first in all they do.

LazardOfficialWhat have been the big accomplishments for OpenDataSoft since the beginning of the year?

2013 is our second year since founding OpenDataSoft, and it has been an amazing one for us so far with:

  • great new references of organizations subscribing to OpenDataSoft cloud-based platform (Paris Region, several Tourism Agencies, French Railways Company SNCF, Paris Public Transportation Company RATP, Gas Distribution Company GrDF, Media Group Ouest France …)
  • a fast-growing team of high-end engineering, UX & marketing experts thanks to these business revenues
  • several awards like the French Government Open Data (Dataconnexions #3) & the SAP Start-up Program ones
  • and, last but not least, a continuous improvement of our customers’ experience by releasing every week new disruptive features for turning data into innovation & business (datavisualization, open API, real-time data …)

What are your goals for the end of the year?

We are a SaaS company and our clients expect to always find in our cloud-based platform the right solution at the right price, without any limit of data volume, IT resources provisioning or system location. To achieve that goal we are about to dramatically broaden our platform possibilities by finalizing agreements with huge partners, for technical as well as use cases possibilities.

We are also preparing to address new markets, exploring mainly UK & US opportunities. Don’t be surprised if we talk about fundraising next time 😉

What have you learned this year that you think every entrepreneur should know?

Customers first! Sounds obvious? Surely when you start your project as a sole entrepreneur …
But when you grow fast, you have to make sure every second that the entire company is customer-oriented, from R&D to product management. In other words, never lose time on things that don’t directly impact business, (that works for both entrepreneurs and newly hired people).

How does your company handle vacation & the August down period? 

We are an Internet company, and there  is no down time on the Internet…Our goal is to go global as fast as possible, so while part of the French market has been running a bit slower, we’ve been focusing on other markets.