15 Dec [Interview] Philippe Pinault Co-founder Talkspirit & Holaspirit
Andrea Bauer-Vaugan and Didier Carré met Philippe Pinault, co-founder of Talkspirit and Holaspirit. Both are collaborative platforms designed to improve the way of working or to improve the organization and governance of a company. Phillipe Pinault shares with us his experience of the internationalization of a company.
Talkspirit, a platform to improve the way of working in companies
European Champions Alliance (ECA): Philippe, tell us about Talkspirit!
Philippe Pinault (PP): Talkspirit is a collaboration platform created in 2004, which aims to improve the way companies work today. It is a tool that facilitates the access, diffusion, and circulation of information to improve communication between teams and thus develops collaborative postures.
ECA: What is the history of Talkspirit?
PP: In 2008 when we launched the Talkspirit platform (2 years after the birth of Facebook), we were discovering new ways of sharing information, collaborating and dialoguing, with much more modern approaches than forums. We first developed our activity as a web agency. Then we gradually became a publisher with a product on the shelf, which is very easy to deploy and configure
ECA: What are Talkspirit’s key figures, and what are your prospects for development?
PP: Today Talkspirit is mainly deployed on its historical market: France. We support more than 500 companies and organizations, both public and private, to help them improve the way they work. Our ambition is to develop more dynamically in international markets, where we already have some success.
ECA: What are the priority international markets for Talkspirit?
PP: Europe is a very favorable market, particularly for a European company that has values and a way of developing a business that can be differentiating. Moreover, as Europeans, we do not currently have any great alternatives to American collaborative solutions. My dream is to make Talkspirit this alternative, capable of offering tools in response to the digital transformation needs of organizations.
ECA: What are the main challenges for the development of Talkspirit internationally, and particularly in Europe? Can you shed some light on your other Holaspirit company?
PP: In parallel to Talkspirit, I have indeed the chance to develop another Startup, Holaspirit. This platform is focused on the transformation of the organization model of companies, their governance, and their way of working. Thanks to a software tool, Holaspirit makes it possible to give more transparency on the roles existing within organizations and on how these organizations operate. This offer is already available in some thirty countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland.
The very innovative character of Holaspirit has allowed us to benefit from a very dynamic development, mainly thanks to the visibility offered by our satisfied customers.
On the Talkspirit side, our challenge is different. The market is mature, so the main challenge is to gain visibility and notoriety, in a market where the majority of offers are American. We need to find ways to make our solution visible and demonstrate its differentiating character and the value it brings.
ECA: What would be for you the most useful guidance and support from the perspective of this European development?
PP: First of all, the strength of our clients’ recommendations to their networks is priceless. The contacts are therefore an important level of support.
ECA: What form could this recommendation take? How could this approach be structured?
PP: Customer recommendations are already infrequent between French companies. However, as a solution provider, all our customers share our interest in growing, because this will give us the means to develop our vision and each customer will be the beneficiary through the product offers we propose. Nevertheless, culturally, there is a form of reluctance in France to “publicly” recommend a solution we have chosen. It, therefore, seems to be very complicated to get a recommendation from our French clients to other players in other European countries. The first step would, therefore, be to get them to communicate the fact that they have chosen a European solution.
ECA: How important is international development in your strategy?
PP: We have a very strong interest in international development. Development in Europe is complex, compared to the United States. Different languages, different cultures, and as many markets. However, this development has a strong place in our strategy because we are convinced that European companies are becoming more sensitive to “buying European”, and that European Champions will emerge. Currently, the market is largely dominated by American solutions, and it is our responsibility to grow companies that will be able to offer us certain independence from American solutions in the future.
We are positioning ourselves as a serious alternative to American software offers, and we already have large French companies that recognize the value of our solution. To name some examples demonstrating the diversity of our portfolio: the Société du Grand Paris, the Foncia Group, the Office National des Forêts, and the Caisses Primaires d’Assurance Maladie (French primary health insurance companies) have placed their trust in us today. Today, we want to make these partnerships visible beyond borders to support our development.
ECA: What are the key success factors for developing Talkspirit in France and internationally?
PP: First of all, the key is obviously to offer a solution that meets real challenges and solves real problems. The issue of communication and working methods is a major concern for all organizations that have not made the shift to digital transformation. Today, we want to demonstrate the value of our offer, through the tool and by accompanying the transformation of working methods. The value of our offer is already recognized by our customers and partners. However, we need to greatly increase our visibility in order to disseminate our offer more widely and share our successes. I am a strong believer in the value of development by recommendation.
ECA: You support the European Champions Alliance initiative. Why did you want to do so?
PP: We share the same values and the same vision of strong European companies developing in this market. The French market is necessarily limited and Europe is a necessary perimeter for development if we want to grow. The visibility that you want to give to companies in the network, the bridges that you want to create between networks in different countries, correspond to our idea of European development, and we are happy to support the initiative in its development.
ECA: What do you expect from us?
PP: We are pleased that the European Champions Alliance benefits from the Talkspirit solution because it will allow you to lead your community, and thus give visibility to our solution to all members and partners. Through your development, we hope that the Talkspirit solution will also gain visibility.
Being able to benefit from feedback from French companies that have successfully deployed internationally is very valuable, and saves time.
ECA: Thank you very much Philippe for your time and for your feedback! Thank you also for supporting the European Champions Alliance initiative!
You can also read our interview with Kymono!
Written by Andrea Bauer-Vaugan, Executive Director of ECA, Co-founder of Wyngs, President of the Franco-German Digital Club and Vice President of the Cluny Forum and Didier Carré, Secretary General of the G9+ Institute