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Grenoble INP Institut d'ingénierie et de management

Grenoble Institute of Engineering and Management
Innovating for a Sustainable Future
Innovating for a Sustainable Future

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Xarian: a start-up that has been resilient throughout the crisis

Published on June 23, 2021
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Pauline, Xavier, Yan and Dorian are all graduates of Grenoble INP - Génie industriel and met while working at Bombardier. Together with Benoît, who comes from the EPFL*, they launched Xarian, a supply chain consulting company. Created a few days before the health crisis, the start-up had to put its activity on hold during the first lockdown in March 2020. Its creators then imagined a second company that offers a software solution for operations management (supply chain, manufacturing, security), thus maintaining remote activity. We met Xavier Feltin (GI2010), one of the co-creators, to discuss this experience.



How did you come up with the idea of starting your own business?

"Since school, we all had plans to start our own business. After a few years of working together, we all wanted the same thing: to embark on this project together. We put together the team first and then worked on the service. Supply chain consulting was an obvious choice because of our respective experiences.

The activity started very well for a fortnight... Due to the first lockdown, we had to stop all our contracts very quickly. We had a lot of free time and a project that had been on our minds for some time: creating an operations management tool for manufacturers. The idea was born from a shared observation: in each position we held, we always had to recreate the same Excel tools to manage our respective activities. The result is a supply management tool for the assembly industry called Komugi."

So the lockdown enabled you to develop your software solution?

“If we had not been forced to stay at home, I think we would have been 100% occupied with the start-up of the consultancy business: we already had 6 months of full orders before the launch of the company.”

What challenges did you face in setting up this company?

"When you start a business, you focus on your product. This is ultimately the easiest because it is the part you master best. You also have to think about the legal aspect with the company's statutes, drafting customer contracts, financing and setting up compatibility, payroll management, and above all how to sell your product through marketing and communication. It's a lot to take in in a short time."

What has been successful? Did you rely on networks of entrepreneurs?

“The lesson we have learned is that it's important to surround yourself with people, experience is priceless. We were accompanied by a lawyer for the legal part, a firm specialised in start-up financing, a communication agency, a marketing expert, etc. We also had the chance to exchange with many entrepreneurs who shared their experiences with us.

Once the business is established, networking is really important. We are happy to be part of the Crédit Agricole start-up accelerator and we have moved to the Delta incubator in Thonon-les-Bains in order to remain at the heart of this ecosystem. We have also joined networks such as FrenchTech, Thésame, Digital League, etc.”

What links do you have today with the network of graduates of your school?

"Very strong ones! It's quite funny, but we found a lot of Grenoble INP - UGA alumni during this year, whether it was with our partners or the people who help and advise us on a daily basis."
Looking back, what did your training contribute to your career?

“Whether it's our career or entrepreneurship itself, we've had a really cross-disciplinary education, which makes our profiles really valuable. We are very quick to understand the ins and outs of any subject. This is our strength."

What are your goals for the future?

"In the short and medium term, our objective is really to develop our Komugi software in parallel with our consulting activity. Today, we have a well-matured supply tool, we are working on our software on manufacturing management, with partner start-ups. We also want to put together an offering on security management for 2021 with video recognition solutions, in particular."

You had always wanted to start your own business. How do you feel about your experience now?

“I never imagined it would be easy, but in any case, no one regrets it today. There is no right time to start: you will have to learn everything again anyway! We started at the worst possible time (15 days before the lockdown) but in the end it was an opportunity, even if for the first two days we didn't necessarily see it that way... The first year is always a bit of a rollercoaster. Good professional and personal support is the key! But it's a worthwhile experience, you mustn't regret anything!"
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Date of update June 24, 2021

Grenoble INP Institut d’ingénierie et de management, Université Grenoble Alpes
Grenoble INP, Graduate schools of Engineering and Management
Université Grenoble Alpes

(Institut polytechnique de Grenoble)
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