1 – James Dyson, founder of Dyson: is his vacuum cleaner bag clogged? He invented the bagless vacuum cleaner
One day in 1978, while vacuuming, James Dyson remarked, annoyed, that dust was flying everywhere. He disassembles the appliance: the pores of the bag – but still partially empty – are clogged. He then made the connection with an industrial process of sucking paint powder, which he had been told about, and with another, which he had seen in a neighboring sawmill: a cone separated the dust from the air by centrifugal force without the need for a paper filter. He draws sketches and pills with a small cone on his old vacuum cleaner. Leave the bag … it works. For five years, he will test alone at home and develop 5,127 prototypes. “It’s 5,126 failures, but I learned from everyone.” When he presents his invention to the market leaders (Hoover, Electrolux …), no one wants to exploit it. He ended up selling a model licensed in Japan in 1986. Immediate success. He collects royalties, mortgages his property, which allows him to build a factory in the United Kingdom in 1992 and the following year set up his company, in which he, his wife and his children are shareholders. He loves to have free rein and ignores market research that advises him to set a high price. “My approach is the opposite. I design the product that I think is useful, then I get to estimate its cost. The important thing is that it is effective.” What pushes the billionaire to constantly innovate: the ultra-fast hand dryer, the bladeless fan, forced air heating … Today, Dyson (5,500 employees including 2,500 engineers) has a turnover of 1.3 billion euros.
2- Florent Steiner and Manuel Conejo, co-founders of AdopteUnMec.com: it all started with an evening with single girlfriends
Manuel and I were unemployed after working as programmers, says Florent Steiner. Over the course of an evening, single friends admitted to us that they felt harassed on dating sites and received up to 100 messages a day! The two friends then decide to set up a “for girls” site where they would not pay and would have the power to discuss, or not, with a suitor. “Flo” begins to code, “Manu” deals with marketing. Launched in 2007 without commercials, AdopteUnMec.com quickly got people talking about it, with its quirky tone that referred the man to rank as an object: “stock removal”, “promotion” of red-haired, curly hair … After eight months , it completely gives way to the “queue”: Non-subscribers have free access … except between kl. 18.00 and 01.00, the top of connections. In 2011, the site, which is self-financing, will be fully paid for by men, without compromising development. With more than 7,000 new subscribers a day, it had a turnover of 21.6 million euros, or + 700% in four years.
3 – Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber: he got the idea for Uber one night in Paris because he could not find a taxi
The company is American, but it was in Paris, one evening in December 2008, that the concept Uber was born. Travis Kalanick, 31, attends the LeWeb conference with her friend Garrett Camp. The two men can not find a taxi. They then dream of a service that would make it possible to reserve a limousine at the touch of a button. A few months later, they co-founded Uber in San Francisco. Today, the company is present in 250 cities and valued at $ 40 billion. The key to success, according to its CEO? “Do something similar to you.” A little simplistic? Is. But in line with the journey of this computer enthusiast who is not afraid to break the rules.
His first entrepreneurial adventure, at the age of 22, in transferring files to peer to peer, caused him to be sued by the American majors. The other, in the same field, allows him to pocket $ 23 million. With Uber is bad boy reached a new milestone. He has become an important figure, although he is still controversial by politicians and hated by taxis. According to him, its success is due to the location of its service: it gives the customer what he expects in record time. “If you can take a car with you in five minutes, he points out, you can deliver lots of other things at the same time.” Travis Kalanick may not have said his last word.
>>> Also read the portrait of Travis Kalanick, the very brutal founder of Uber
4 – Eric Favre, founder of Monodor and Mocoffee: no one wanted his coffee capsule project? We know the rest!
In 1975, Eric Favre, an engineer in Nestlé’s packaging department, was bored. One fine day, he attends a conference for the world’s marketing director. “According to him, the big percolators were not practical enough, the coffee grinders too messy … That’s how I decided to get interested in coffee with the aim of making the best espresso in the world.” He does not know that the challenge he has just launched will lead to eleven years of struggle. It secretly develops a capsule. But when he presents it to his superiors, the reception is icy cold: “Ridiculous!” He was even banned from working on this project. Perseveringly, he continues to develop his prototype, assisted by colleagues from the technical departments, marketing and sales. “When the road is blocked, he says, we walk around the mountain.” It ends up paying. In 1986, the then CEO appointed him head of the occasional Nespresso subsidiary. Nestlé gives him three months’ salary, then he has to find financing. He clings. In a few months, the subsidiary will be profitable, and Nespresso will be a worldwide success.
>>> Also read Nespresso or the art of resisting the pressure of 50 competitors
5 – André Tordjman, founder of Little extra: he imports a concept seen during a journey
When he stays in the US, André Tordjman, a former HEC teacher who has become Auchan’s marketing director, loves to stroll through dollar blinds, these stores where you can find everything at low prices. In 2006, he proposed to Vianney Mulliez, the leader of the Northern Group, to adapt the concept in France. “In distribution, we always decide between price and pleasure. I wanted to unite the two: to make beautiful, cheap.
With the backing of Auchan, but without a budget, he went into startup mode. He finds a warehouse for a modest rent and buys goods at the end of the assortment. “Six months later, a pilot store opened in Yvelines,” says the founder and co-shareholder of the brand, which now has 20 stores. “A lot of people have ideas that they never realize. What it takes is to dare.”
6 – Jean-François Connan, social innovation director at Adecco: he has succeeded in reconciling social and business
Before joining Adecco in 1990 as head of recruitment, Jean-François Connan had been a teacher with young people in difficulty. He is aware of social issues and feels that the company is ripe to take an interest in integration issues. In 1991, he took advantage of the creation of the status of temporary integration companies (Etti) to internally establish a project for a temporary agency with a social calling. If the project was initially a bit fumbling when Adecco first started alone before joining integration heavyweights, the 64 Adecco Insertion agencies today generate 70 million in revenue, and Jean-François Connan became a member of the management committee. His advice? “You need to find the person who will listen to you.” For him, the crucial support came from a legal director who brought his project up to the CEO.
7 – Fabrice Pierlot, CEO and Founder of Coyote: Tired of Blinking the Road, Launches Anti-Radar
Fabrice, who is a student at Troyes, complains about being flashed as soon as he returns to Reims this weekend. This rebellious spirit then decides to find a legal way to thwart the radars. It sets up a voice server that indicates the position of the speed cameras in real time using information from motorists. “I started without market research and just asked myself, ‘Would I buy this service? GPS. Just activate it when you encounter a fixed or mobile camera to warn the network of its presence. The product is profitable in three months. Today Coyote achieves a turnover of 105 million a year, proof that the state is not the only one making money with speed cameras …
8 – Vincent Bryant, co-founder of Deepki: he finds savings thanks to underutilized data
His mission at GDF Suez: to help companies save energy. Problem: Since the buildings are all different, it would be necessary to visit them one by one to customize the units. Overpriced. His idea: cross-reference the available data (consumption, area, etc.) with similar buildings that have reduced their bills, to offer an almost tailor-made solution for ten times less. In September, his project was selected for GDF Suez’s internal innovation competition, and Vincent launched his start-up, Deepki. Four months later, he reports 200,000 euros in turnover.
9 – Henri Cornette, independent consultant: not convinced by liquid detergent, he invents the vizier
Vizir, the liquid detergent launched in the 1980s by Procter & Gamble, flopped. It flows too fast out of the powdered detergent drawer and some of it disappears into the drain circuit. Test laboratory technician Henri Cornette has an idea: Place the detergent directly in the drum using an object that ensures progressive diffusion.
He pierces a vial and fills it with Vizier. After several tests, he finds an efficiency gain of 15%. He tests his ball with individuals: “They found it ugly, but wanted to keep it, proof that it worked.” Because of these results, he convinced marketing to file a patent and design a beautiful container, the Vizier. With the success we know.
10 – Sébastien Forest, founder and president of Allo Resto: out of laziness to cook, he set up a delivery place for meals
A long Sunday of revisions, the laziness of cooking: that was what gave Sébastien Forest, then a student at Tours, the idea of launching the first delivery place for meals. “I had to go through the entire library to find a pizzeria ready to deliver to me.” In June 1998, Alloresto.fr was launched. At the end of 1999, an Anglo-Saxon fund invested 10 million francs, the company went from 1 to 30 employees in three months. But the sale does not pay off the debt. On the verge of bankruptcy, Sébastien Forest starts from scratch, with no employees. “Restaurants and customers trusted me, I bet everything on them: I sent them a questionnaire to find out what they expected,” says the boss, who regrets not having done it before. “That was the base. We had gone too fast.” Unlimited ADSL in 2004 increased activity. “Since then, we have never stopped being profitable.” The company with 60 employees expects a turnover of 100 million euros in 2015.
Karine Hendriks, Caroline Montaigne, Marie-Madeleine Sève and Marie Le Tutour
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