On Wednesday, 23 innovation directors of innovation from the SNCF, including the heads of various regions (Champagne-Ardenne, Régional Aquitane, Région Centre) and the heads of different departments (Rail Infrastructure Quality, Intercity Rail, Ecomobility, etc.) came to visit and find out more about Le Camping and its acceleration model.
TravelRoad, which allows the creation of a customized trip and Cup of Teach which organizes online classes on several subjects (cooking, marketing, sewing, etc.) were present along with 4 Le Camping alumni startups:
Skimm!, the mobile payment solution
qunb, a platform based on the aggregation of billions of data available to the public through graphs and tables
Kawet, which has pivoted from B2C app creation to a turnkey app generation solution for companies
Mesagraph, which analyzes social network feeds and extracts quantitative information relative to a topic.
It cannot be said enough that, here at Le Camping, the mix of these cultures, that of large companies and startups, is both necessary and positive for innovation.
With shared interests and an obvious win-win collaboration, it’s clear that this model works.
By working with such a large company, a startup can not only get funding – the SNCF along with Orange, PSA Peugeot Citröen and Total have together created an investment fund for innovative startups within green transportation – but can also get help to develop products, sign new clients, adapt to an established market and take advantage of a brand name and a broad network, both in France and internationally.
After a long-established approach of distrust with regards to startups, often viewed as threats and competitors, large companies finally started to understand and take advantage of this type of collaboration.
The difficulties in innovating within a large group are well-known: overly-rigidthick structures, lack of agility, employee inflexibility, hierarchy, division of services, all the factors that slow the creative momentum necessary to make real innovation.
It’s thus not an issue of intrinsic creativity, but simply one of structure and size; even for small startups that have become large companies, and even with a particular DNA built into the company, innovation gets harder with growth.
Collaboration with startups directly responds to this problem and, to some extent, even represents a outsourcing of R&D, normally so tightly linked tightly to the core of the company.
To learn more about this topic : read this article!
The startups were gathered together, all suited up for the executive visit, as Stéphane Distingin, the founder of FaberNovel remarked with humor on Twitter, at the beginning of the event, “They are so cute @lecamping, they are all suited up for the #SNCF executive visit“.
Cup of Teach, for example, proposed that their solution could be used as a service offered to travelers during their trip with an selection of classes.
Kawet, on the other hand, offered their service as a way of connecting different people through a transverse application, as they are often spread throughout a large company like SNCF.
Not to be outdone, TravelRoad, proposed that SNCF Voyages packages be integrated into the application via their API for flights and hotels, a feature suffering from low public visibility as SNCF is still largely perceived as a train company.
2-day immersion in the innovation ecosystem
The SNCF is one of our most valued and active partners creating the context and participating in a continuous innovative movement. This meeting with the Campers started here in the context of a 2-day immersion in the tech ecosystem of the heads of innovation of the SNCF, organized by FaberNovel.
“The point of this type of immersion program was to show how social networks work ( and how they’re used), to introduce a group of prominent startups, Generation-Y, as well as innovative players and new tech trends,” explains Nathalie Girard, co-organizer of the program within conjunction with Leila Turner.
“The group was really interesting and really pretty enthusiastic. They really got involved in advantage of the immersion and showed a great deal of initiative with regards to able to think on their own about what they could do within SNCF, she added.
On the startup side, Gersende Cherrier, founder of TravelRoad, expressed her enthusiasm, “For me, it’s so great to have people like this hear about our projects. It’s an awesome exercise and a fantastic way to share and think about ways to adapt a product to a specific company’s needs.”
So, many thanks to the 23 directors for having stopped by, to the startups that participated, to FaberNovel that organized.