Featured Startup: The Commerce Guys and Co-Founder Frédéric Plais

Meet the self-proclaimed RedHat for eCommerce, a French company working closely with Microsoft partners to build eCommerce solutions on Drupal. The Commerce Guys won the BizSpark Euro Summit title for Most-Promising Startup. They won, partly, because of the success they have had in building their company using open source software and Microsoft technology. Check out this interview for a very brief glimpse at the future of eCommerce. 

Ryan Szrama (VP community Development of Drupal Commerce) is presenting Drupal Commerce in Chicago in front of a packed room of Drupalers

BizSpark: Tell us who you are and your role in the company

Frédéric Plais:  I am the Chief Executive Officer and one of the co-founders. I see my role as being the person ultimately responsible for aligning the teams behind clear goals for the company, and then, empowering the teams and providing them the means to achieve these goals.

BizSpark:  What did you do before creating your company?

Frédéric Plais:  We are 5 co-founders at Commerce Guys. My personal background is in Sales, marketing and Product development and team management in a IT context. 

BizSpark:  How you do feel about being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?

Frédéric Plais:  It's a very great honor for the company and the entire team to be distinguished by Microsoft as a promising company. It's also motivating to do even more!

BizSpark:  What is your company’s mission?

Frédéric Plais:  To change the way commerce is done by making great eCommerce solutions accessible to everyone through technology and open-source collaboration.

BizSpark:  Tell us what your company does:

Frédéric Plais:  Commerce Guys delivers Drupal Commerce, one of the fastest growing eCommerce software (more than 15,000 eCommerce websites since the release, less than 9 months ago). Drupal Commerce offers e-Retailers and start-ups unprecedented flexibility as well as all the content, social, multi-device tools they need to grow their online business successfully.

BizSpark:  How did you get the idea for your company? 

Frédéric Plais:  Before anything, it was about gathering 2 teams on each side of the Atlantic Ocean that had been working online intensively for years, without having physically met! (one team was in Paris, France the other in Ann-Arbor, USA). It was about joining some amazing talents together, that shared an idea and an ambition: build the equivalent of a Redhat for eCommerce. 

BizSpark: Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?

BizSpark:  We have raised a series A in March with 3 funds (2 premium French funds: ISAI and Alven Capital, and Open Ocean, the Finnish team that started mySQL). We are not currently looking for funding but are always interested in starting early discussions with potential investors that would be interested in joining for a future series B).

Augustin Delaporte (trainer), Frédéric Plais (CEO), Philippe Lauprete (Sales Director Europe) are together at Solutions Linux in Paris after a session on Drupal Commerce's future

BizSpark:  How many employees do you have? How many developers?

Frédéric Plais:  We currently have 45 employees, and expect to grow to approximately 70 of us at the end of the year. More than 75% of our team members are software engineers.

BizSpark: So, you are hiring?  

Frédéric Plais:  Yes! We are hiring developers, account managers, business developers and other positions necessary to expand our business.

BizSpark:  Which platform are you building on? Why?

Frédéric Plais:  Drupal. We believe Drupal is the most brilliant social publishing tool available today. It is also one of the most popular CMS for the enterprise and an amazing open source community. Commerce Guys has an indirect sales model. We operate through partners (system integrators and digital agencies). We partner with companies that have a strong know-how about Drupal and eCommerce. This partnership proves very successful for all companies involved.

BizSpark:  Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?

Frédéric Plais:  We believe that the future of software is in the cloud. We also believe that eCommerce is still in the very early days. There are lots of opportunities in eCommerce for entrepreneurs since it is one of few industries that experience in the same time very sustained growth and fast-changing context. In such a context, new opportunities surge every day. 

BizSpark:  What do you think about the BizSpark Program? 

Frédéric Plais:  We have been working tightly with Microsoft since Commerce Guys started. Enterprises love Microsoft. It makes a lot of sense for a company like ours to make our software usable by companies that use Microsoft products. Joining BizSpark a few months ago, has enabled to get the relationship with Microsoft to a new level. The Microsoft teams have been amazingly helpful and supportive. The relationship with Microsoft is both promising and strategic for us.

BizSpark:  Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?

Frédéric Plais:  To be successful, it's important to have a cool piece of technology. But, it is even more important to be really clear on the problem it solves. If you know you're solving a problem for which people are willing to pay, then you're in the right direction. :-)



What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview? *

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