To hear them use both the French language characteristic of the start-up ecosystem (“roadmap”, “early stage”, “time-to-market”) and the esoteric acronyms of the industrial sector (“CMMS”, “AIC”) , we end up saying that Octave Lapeyronie and François Déchelette have become perfectly bilingual. They juggle between two languages which do not, however, have the same grammar, coming from fields which one might believe, at first, to be totally foreign. Their entrepreneurial adventure, however, proves the opposite. These two minds launched software a few years ago (a “SaaS” for those in the know) which organizes all human activities within, specifically, factories.
To put it briefly, the two entrepreneurs explain that they replaced the Velléda tables and pieces of paper with a digital tool which allows better circulation of information. The application developed by Fabriq records all the data necessary for the operational management of the factory and makes it available to all employees in real time. “Problems are thus fewer and are resolved more quickly by the teams, who can devote more time to creating value for the company,” indicates Octave Lapeyronie. His partner, François Déchelette, sums up the entrepreneurial project by adopting the expression of an executive from a factory where they deployed the product: “It’s the factory in the pocket”.
Nothing predestined these two to tread the resinous soil of the factories. When they left HEC in the early 2010s, one followed the “royal path” (strategy consulting with one of the American “Big Three”) and the other devoted himself to his passion for the booming digital economy, at Groupon then at TextMaster. The young Octave and François had become friends on the rugby fields during university championships, before meeting again a few years later with a shared desire to undertake.
It was the chance of a meeting with an engineer converted to venture capital, Renan Devillieres, which led them to become interested in innovation in the industrial sector. On his initiative, the tandem of entrepreneurs visited in Saint-Ouen-L'Aumône in 2019 a production site of Lisi Aerospace, an aeronautical equipment manufacturer which will soon become one of Fabriq's first clients. “During our first visits to factories, we were very surprised by the technological gap between state-of-the-art production tools and operational management which was still done using tools from another era,” says François Déchelette. Octave Lapeyronie, for example, mentions an industrial executive who wrote down information on his hand so that he could report it during a meeting a little later in the day.
This fresh look at 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, continues a solid growth trajectory (their turnover will be doubled this year, after tripling the previous year) and customers are flocking. With a few adjustments, the platform lends itself to all types of industries: from aerospace to leather goods and perfumery. “Operational management within factories is fairly standardized,” explains François Déchelette.
The integration of the software is going rather well in the sites concerned: 95% of the pilot phases result in definitive adoption of the product. “Factory employees today are engineers who are very sensitive to technological development and generally welcome productivity gains,” declare the founders of Fabriq. They are even surprised to find their interface highlighted in promotional clips for some of their clients. “The digitalization of the industry is likely to appeal to younger generations,” the two thirty-somethings want to believe. A major argument at a time when the reindustrialization of the country requires the hiring of 100,000 new employees each year in a sector which still suffers from a lack of attractiveness, particularly among younger generations.