(Nick Heys - emailvision, David Grunberger - Tech Tour, Rodrigo Sepulveda - RISC Partners)
OK people, here we go with the first series of interviews I brought back from ETRE. I bring you today a fantastic guy, the kind you would invite with you for your holidays. Lots of fun, positive energy and charisma.
Yep, I’m talking about Nick Heys, an Englishman that somehow landed in continental Europe a very long time ago, and who speaks French with more colloquial idioms that you could imagine. A slight touch of English accent that makes him not completely French, but very very close.
Nick founded Emailvision, an email marketing software company about 5 years ago. He used one of my favourite reasons to start his 3rd company: frustration. He couldn’t find the right tool and software to do what he wanted. And having been in direct marketing for 10 years, he would know the market pretty well…
His software enables email campaigns for the big names of e-commerce, such as PriceMinister.com, Vistaprint.com, but also other retail and mail-order companies such as Darty, 3Suisses, etc. Actually he has over 700 users of his platform spread over 400 client accounts. Collectively, they are enabling a troughput of about 1.5 BILLION emails (ie. marketing contact opportunities) per year. That’s a lot… Why is marketing-email software of any relevance to his clients? Well, among other things, it helps them calculate ROI on a campaign. Ok, I buy that on-the-spot: ROI for direct-marketeers it's a got-to-have, not a funky nice-to-have. So a nice space to play for a startup.
Actually, Nick claims he’s the European leader (most probably) with operations now in France, UK and Germany (representing 70% of his market). Competition ? Think of the US-based doubleclick.com (sold earlier this year to a PE fund. Founder & former CEO Kevin Ryan is also an INSEAD alumnus, and now is CEO of stealth-mode Provence Capital.)
2003–2003 were tough years for him, as he had to restructure quite heavily: he tells me candidly on camera that at that point, he had to align costs with revenues. Shouldn’t we ALL be doing that ? Kinda good practices when you are growing a company… Anyways, that was a great reality check, since emailvision is now generating about 6,5 million euros in revenues, growing 80% per year, and is profitable at 5% of EBIT. Even better: the folks at Global Equities are taking this 55–people company public in Q1 2006, on the Alternext compartment of Euronext in Paris. Documentation should be available in 6–8 weeks says Nick. Good partial exit opportunity for his VCs: SPEF and Sofinnova.
Who said Europe couldn’t produce great companies ? Pascal Mercier has a good post about that here.
Nick’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “JUST DO IT”.
note: Video shot around 11pm somewhere outside Athens, Greece at ETRE'05's first dinner night (17 october 2005)