We talked to Cédric Nève, CEO of Digiteal, about enabling companies to get paid faster, more regularly, and at a lower cost, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Cédric Nève: Everyone is going fine. We miss some of the activities that cannot be organized in these troubled times, but at least none of us are sick.
All our colleagues are working from home. Some of us go to the office maybe once a week to give a new laptop, work on something that requires us to be present in the same place, but this is exceptional. All of us have organized our home offices, and we got used to it. There are also advantages, and we certainly lose a lot less time driving.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Digiteal.
Cédric Nève: I founded an IT consulting company in 2008 with two colleagues. I was an IT architect at the time. After years of working as a consultant, mostly in the public sector, I wanted to create a product. Like many, I took a pain that I was feeling personally around invoice payment, and I used the skills and experience of a team to come up with an innovative solution. This was in 2015 when I founded Digiteal.
How does Digiteal innovate?
Cédric Nève: Around 60% of our work is in R&D. We have a running product, but we have many sources of inspiration to make it better every day:
- We listen to our clients. They have great insights, and they tell us what they are missing.
- We also listen to the industry. We are a FinTech, and a lot of things are happening in the world of payments: new regulations, new standards, new partners, etc.
- We have more than 120 shareholders (some direct and some indirect through crowdfunding), and they also provide us insight.
- Finally, we have a great team and board with diverse backgrounds and expertise.
The board gives directions, and the team puts all this together to come up with a three-month strategy.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Cédric Nève: Most of our costs are linked to the personnel, and we have hired since the beginning of the pandemic. So costs are slightly rising.
On the revenue side, the pandemic gave a boost to e-invoicing and e-payments. There is also a growing appetite for automation in the accounting department. All those opportunities mean more revenue for Digiteal.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Cédric Nève: No, there is more work to be done, and we have hired in the last year.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Cédric Nève: Today, when you suggest a meeting with someone, everyone just supposes that it will be in an online conferencing tool. I have participated in maybe 1 physical meeting per month in the last 12 months, and those were all very important meetings with people I have not met before. All at a safe distance and often with masks, these meetings are the exception in a sea of online meetings.
I have more than 6 meetings scheduled per day: sync meetings with the team, sales and partners meetings, and the occasional webinar. I prefer 30-minute meetings to stay focused and go right to the point.
Another change brought by the pandemic is that we are now sharing our office with another company since we have much less of a need to have a physical place to meet.
Our set of tools are:
- Google Calendar to have a shared calendar
- Calendly to let the correspondent choose the best time to schedule the meeting without losing any time in reserving slots and a lot of time-consuming email exchanges
- Google Meet or Whereby to have a no installation required meeting experience
- Many collaboration tools to have concurrent editing of texts, schemas, presentations, etc.
The main characteristics of those tools are that they are online, lightweight, designed for interactive collaboration, and intuitive.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Cédric Nève: No specific grant for the pandemic, but we were the first company to receive a H2020 phase 2 grant (almost 1M€l) in Wallonia in 2018. This certainly helped early on.
Your final thoughts?
Cédric Nève: Everyone is affected by the pandemic. Many sectors are suffering because their activity is simply not possible or not allowed for the moment. This is a time to reinvent ourselves and our businesses. Many new habits have enabled businesses to switch to a lot more digital interactions that will lead to long-term cost reductions. We have seen this accelerate at a speed we never saw before because it became the only way to get things done.
These long-term benefits must not make us forget the pain and the loss that a lot have experienced often without properly being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. But not all of it was bad. What does not kill us makes us stronger.
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