Hello Jean-Francois and welcome to our blog, this time not (only) as one of the EUSP co-founders but also as a founder and CEO of a new startup. Tell us about the decision to go back to your entrepreneurial life particularly now in the midst of a global crisis.
Thanks! Well you know, I was an entrepreneur when I joined ViaID 5 years ago and during these five years, I felt like an entrepreneur because I had the chance to create and contribute to many impactful initiatives, like co-founding the EUSUP with Karima Delli, founding the Moovelab at StationF in Paris or creating the Mobility Club by ViaID. During the first lookdown, I realised that it was time for me to go back to my roots.
In fact, a crisis offers many opportunity for entrepreneurs, a lot of successful companies were created during past crises, like Uber, Whatsapp, Slack to name a few…
What is AZFALTE offering companies and employees and how does your service compare (and compete) with others in France and other European countries?
AZFALTE is offering corporate bikes (mostly e-bikes), as a new service that helps companies attract and develop employee loyalty, simply by offering them new means of transport.
This market is already strong in Germany and Belgium but rather new in France. Covid has accelerated the development of this opportunity; reconsigning it is a historical moment, I’ve decided to act on it.
We are starting in France which is a huge market but also quite a unique one: you cannot only rely on bike retail shop because they are not so many compared to countries like Germany.
We therefore developed strong partnerships, especially with ALD Automotive, a European leader of long term vehicle leasing.
We’ve seen many cities transforming their urban planning as a result of the crisis, with bikes lanes suddenly in the limelight, even in countries where there was traditionally lower use of micro-mobility. Do you expect that ‘Bike is the new normal’ would continue in the coming years after the crisis? Or is there a risk that we return to our old habits?
“Bike is the new normal” is the baseline of AZFALTE! And yes, we do believe that we have reached a shifting point! The current Covid crisis has a strong impact which I expect to last over time, we are in winter time now and we still have a lot of bikes on the road, this new world is here!
You’ve been mentoring and advising startups for many years (through EUSP and other accelerators) but was there anything you’ve learned from the EUSP startups that you’ve seen that you’ll want to apply at AZFALTE?
Oh yes, I’ve done this job, and sometime I still do this job, because it also gives me energy, and I learn from every entrepreneur, every team.
What I have definitely leaned is that it’s rarely the best idea that wins. It is rather usually the best team, so I spend my time to build the strongest team!
What are the next main objectives and milestones that AZFALTE is aiming at?
We aim at leading the French market through exponential growth by next year. As soon as this is done, we’ll look at other market; I maintain the EUSP moto: “Europe is my playground”!
All that’s left is to wish you best of luck in our European playground!