We talked to Axel Pasqualini of Apptitude about how they transform your ideas into elegant and efficient digital products and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Axel Pasqualini: Mostly fine. Our kid was super happy to have her parents every day during the first lock-down and was quite sad when we had to go back to work. Obviously, people are really getting sick of the situation; it includes me. We got the Covid at home, but everyone is doing well now.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Apptitude.
Axel Pasqualini: I studied computer sciences and graduated in 2009 with my Masters. I had the chance to travel a lot during my studies, Corsica, Ireland, and Canada. Having most of my family in Romandie, it was a natural choice to start my career in this dynamic region. I joined a sustainability consultant Startup in 2009, Ecointesys, now Quantis International, one of the world leaders in Life Cycle Assessment and sustainability solutions. My role was to develop, promote, and sell the company’s product: Quantis Suite. During this first work experience, I had the chance to meet my two co-founders, Pierre and Raphaël, respectively, developer and designer on the same product at Quantis. In 2012, the company decided to slow scale down its investments in the product, and I proposed to Quantis’ founders to create my own business, taking Pierre and Raphaël with me and sub-contract some IT projects to kick-start the company. Back in 2012, Quantis’ CEO and Founder Yves Loerincik was very supportive of the idea and provided a great help to launch the company.
How does Apptitude innovate?
Axel Pasqualini: Our company innovates through our unique Business Approach and the related relationships nourished with all stakeholders.
1) We are not just coders, we provide Digital Innovation: we help our customers, small, medium & large, to identify business opportunities to create innovative digital products (app, platforms, and IoT) that deliver real value.
2) We are not willing to do anything and everything: our customers must prove the usefulness of their idea and its benefits to the market/people.
3) We push towards sustainability: internally with our own team, externally with our partners, we build a long-term relationship based on the 3 sustainability pillars: economics, human and environmental.
4) State-Of-The-Art: we are constantly training and keeping ourselves up-to-date, technologically, methodologically, and artistically.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Axel Pasqualini: It mostly affects our Sales & Marketing strategy based on human relationships, events, and networking. Although, the pandemic has raised new needs in our existing customers. Sales grew by 35% in 2020, but we counted on 70-100% growth before Covid arrived. Regarding production, we had a rough May-June 2020 where one of our biggest projects was put on hold instantly.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Axel Pasqualini: We decided to keep our team on, even if we lost some money. For us, money is not a key driver, and recruiting/retaining talents is costly in our line of business.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Axel Pasqualini: Nothing that we weren’t using before the pandemic hit. We just put in place a recurring (every 2 months) informal meeting to identify and discuss psychological challenges with our people.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Axel Pasqualini: Near-Shore Team and large EU companies tend to become serious competitors. If you are looking for coders, there are plenty out there. Although, if you want to do valuable digital innovation, we truly believe that a local partner closer to you, your customers, your users, and habits/culture is always a stronger means to achieve your business objectives faster and sharper. This is our positioning to stay in the game.
Your final thoughts?
Axel Pasqualini: Digital companies are the Covid pandemic winners, at least for now. I truly believe that we should be careful with this situation and avoid leaving too many people behind. This would create a dramatic inequality in society that would backfire on us in many ways.
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