Innovation: Espaciel adopts the lean start-up to sell its light reflectors

Going from the prototype to the industrialization of a new product is a complex phase, often greedy in initial investments and development time. To limit these two risk factors, the Lille start-up Espaciel has chosen to apply agile digital methods to its light reflectors which use natural light to increase the lighting of interiors. Its credo, the lean start-up.

Spend less on the prototype

The principle is simple: ” it is a process of construction, experimentation, deconstruction and ultra-rapid reconstruction in which the client is placed at the center of iterative loops
“, Explain Alexi Herve, founder of Espaciel. The lean start-up reveals the market’s need in order to build its offer accordingly. ” Particularly interesting when it comes to disruptive innovation Adds the entrepreneur.

It is with this method generally used by digital startups that the entrepreneur has been designing his reflectors since 2013. ” The lean start-up allowed us to consume moderately our initial budget by not investing 100% in a first prototype and finding ourselves without resources to finance a V2 or a V3, details Alexi Hervé. We were thus able to achieve first sales, and reassure investors when it came to fundraising, while connecting with real customer expectations.

Proximity sourcing

But to successfully apply a “digital native” method to the physical world, Espaciel had to adapt. ” One of the keys to the solution lies in local sourcing, not only made in France but downright regional, which allows a very close interface with industrial partners. », Reveals Alexi Hervé. This proximity is the only way to be as agile as possible and quickly make corrections based on customer feedback.

Retain suppliers

Another crucial point: to succeed in ensuring that the various partners remain in the adventure despite the successive changes made during the development phase. ” Between September 2013 and March 2017, our product changed dramatically every three months. It is not easy to retain our production partners with whom each improvement necessarily involves longer development times than for the web », Comments the leader of Espaciel. Especially since for the manufacture of a reflector, the start-up collaborates with about twenty different production suppliers.

To achieve this, we must therefore take the time upstream to select the partners who will support the project over the long term. On the other hand, the leader of Espaciel did not wish to contract the relationship: ”
Everything is based on trust. We quickly established strong contacts with entrepreneurs in the region via Réseau Entreprendre Nord, and they continue to support us today. We simply locked each encouraging step with a patent. We innovate and we industrialize with them and they know that with the next innovation, they will still be our partners.

Team coordination

On the Espaciel side, the organization was also designed from the start to meet the requirements of lean start-ups. To integrate customer feedback into the manufacturing process, for example, engineers and salespeople need to work closely together. ” This physically translates into a workspace in which the two poles work side by side. In this way, information flows from one to the other immediately », Comments Alexi Hervé.

Production has also adapted with digital laser-cutting tools and the use of origami principles to limit investments while accelerating design. “ This approach also conditioned the company’s marketing., adds the founder of Espaciel. For example, the photos taken presenting the offer focused on the rare invariant elements of design. Everything else is subject to significant changes. And the results are there: Espaciel has sold more than 10,000 products in 25 countries via its website and a network of ten distributors such as BHV and Leroy Merlin. The company of 6 employees This year aims for a turnover of half a million euros.

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