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  • José Roda entrepreneurship again, entrepreneurship always has just raised €1.5 million to accelerate its development. While the planets are aligning for his new entrepreneurial project, founder Éric Chaix is drawing on past experience to face the future.

Entrepreneurship to innovate and create a new market

As soon as he graduated, Éric Chaix embarked on his entrepreneurial adventure: "I've always had a desire for autonomy and a taste for a challenge. From secondary school onwards, I had only one aspiration: to become an entrepreneur. To chart his own course and remain in control of his own destiny. In 1999, he founded Borne System. The company designs and manufactures interactive terminals. Éric Chaix likes to break new ground. Passionate about innovation, driven by the ambition to offer new solutions, he is confronted with a major reality: time-to-market.

"If you're too far ahead of the market, nobody understands you. If you're late, you don't offer anything that sets you apart. You need to have a serious sense of rhythm to get started, but there's also a large element of luck involved". When he presented his concept of interactive kiosks in the early 2000s, he received a lukewarm reception, but his perseverance and vision of the market enabled him to bounce back. He adapted his concept.

In 2005, he embarked on a new adventure: Locamedia. In just a few years, the company has established itself as the French leader in the provision of digital sales aids for supermarkets. Its customers include key players such as Decathlon, Auchan, Casino, Carrefour and Leroy Merlin...

Change, diversify, make mistakes...

"I quickly realised that my desire for enterprise came at a cost, and that above all I had to be prepared to take a few knocks. Following the success of Locamedia, Éric Chaix embarked on a new adventure. In 2010, always ahead of his time, he created Actitouch. The idea? To develop click-and-collect systems for the snacking sector. "We were the first to develop a pedestrian drive-through offer for bakeries to deal with the lunchtime rush.

Actitouch is based on an online ordering tool and an ultra-simplified management tool for managing orders, with the aim of improving traffic flow in shops, boosting sales and adapting to new consumer habits. Very quickly, 250 solutions were deployed, but several factors led to failure. Firstly, the notorious time-to-market, because in 2010 consumers were not yet ready.

"The results lived up to our promise with only 5% of the installed base because the bakers weren't communicating about the solution, its benefits or how it worked," explains Éric Chaix, who then invested in communication campaigns in the field.

Accepting failure as a possibility

Despite these difficulties, despite violent situations with disgruntled customers who threaten and verbally abuse him, Éric Chaix insists. "The early days were promising, but I couldn't leave it at that. I decided to do a complete stop-and-go to get back on a sound footing. Complete reorganisation and restructuring of the company and its commercial strategy, an attempt to raise funds to relaunch Actitouch...

"The level of stress I was facing is barely describable, because I was driven by a real desire for customer satisfaction and it wasn't taking. I was no longer aligned with my own values. Unable to find financing, he finally resigned himself to bringing down the curtain on Actitouch. "I should have known when to stop. I was convinced of the relevance of the concept and I wanted to insist... I lost a lot of money, but that wasn't the main thing. His wife supported him unconditionally and helped him through this difficult period. "As an entrepreneur, you have to recognise that the risk of failure is high and that a grain of sand can bring your project to a halt.

The adventure: building a new future

The concept: turnkey self-service solutions to streamline the customer journey and automate certain tasks at the point of sale, all backed up by a hybrid IOT and cloud platform for digitising product or snack vending machines and connecting them to a web platform, mobile applications and interactive kiosks.

With no support from the banks, and investors reluctant to invest, he turned to the 60,000 rebonds association. "It was a revelation for me. The exchange with my peers was extremely valuable. With his status as an "entrepreneur on the rebound", he found new energy and joined forces with Rémy Combe, a computer engineer. A winner of the Pépites network, successfully raised €1.5 million and now has around twenty employees. Now a Patron of the 60,000 rebonds association, he has one conviction: "Money has never been my driving force, and never will be. It's a means to an end, not an end in itself".

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