Listening to them wielding both the Franglais characteristic of the start-up ecosystem ("roadmap", "early stage", "time-to-market") and the esoteric acronyms of the industrial sector ("CMMS", "AIC"), one ends up thinking that Octave Lapeyronie and François Déchelette have become perfectly bilingual. They juggle between two languages that do not have the same grammar, coming from fields that one might think, at first, to be totally foreign. However, their entrepreneurial adventure proves the opposite. A few years ago, these two minds launched a software (a "SaaS" for the initiated) that organizes all human activities within, specifically, factories.
To put it briefly, the two entrepreneurs explain that they have replaced the Velléda boards and the scraps of paper with a digital tool that allows for a better flow of information. The application developed by Fabriq records all the data necessary for the operational management of the plant and makes it available to all employees in real time. "As a result, there are fewer problems and teams can solve them faster, allowing them to spend more time creating value for the company," says Lapeyronie. His partner, François Déchelette, sums up the entrepreneurial project by using the expression of an executive of a factory where they have deployed the product: "It's the factory in your pocket."
Nothing predestined these two to tread the resinous soil of factories. After graduating from HEC in the early 2010s, one followed the "royal road" (strategy consulting at one of the American "Big Three") and the other devoted himself to his passion for the booming digital economy at Groupon and then at TextMaster. The young Octave and François had become friends on the rugby field during the university championships, before meeting again a few years later on a common desire to be an entrepreneur.
It was a chance meeting with an engineer turned venture capitalist, Renan Devillieres, that led them to take an interest in innovation in the industrial sector. In 2019, on his initiative, the duo of entrepreneurs visited a production site in Saint-Ouen-L'Aumône for Lisi Aerospace, an aeronautical equipment manufacturer that would soon become one of Fabriq's first customers. "During our first visits to factories, we were very surprised by the technological gap between state-of-the-art production tools and operational management that was still done using tools from another time," says François Déchelette. Octave Lapeyronie, for example, recalls an industrial executive who wrote down information on his hand so that he could return it during a meeting later in the day.
This fresh perspective on the industrial sector, informed by their past experiences, particularly in the digital economy, allowed them to seize a market opportunity. Four years later, their start-up employs around sixty people, is on a solid growth trajectory (their turnover will double this year, after tripling the previous year) and customers are pouring in. With a few tweaks, the platform lends itself to all types of industries: from aerospace to leather goods and perfumery. "Operational management within the factories is fairly standardised," says François Déchelette.
The integration of the software is going quite well in the sites concerned: 95% of the pilot phases result in a definitive adoption of the product. "Today's factory employees are engineers who are very sensitive to technological development and generally welcome productivity gains," say the founders of Fabriq. They are even surprised to find their interface highlighted in promotional clips of some of their customers. "The digitalisation of the industry is likely to appeal to the younger generations," the two thirty-year-olds want to believe. This is a major argument at a time when the country's reindustrialisation requires the hiring of 100,000 new employees each year in a sector that still suffers from a lack of attractiveness, particularly among the younger generations.