Startup of the Day – SimplySim

The company of the day is SimplySim, based in France. They sell solutions for 3D real time simulation. You will find below an interview with Bertrand Copigneaux, the COO and Co-founder of SimplySim. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!


Interview with Bertrand Copigneaux, COO and Co-founder of SimplySim

Who are you?

My name is Bertrand, I’m 25, I’m from France and I’m the COO and co founder of SimplySim.

How do you feel being the most promising ‘company of the day’ per Microsoft?

I’m very proud!

What did you do before creating your company?

I was a student. I graduated in September 2007 on a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.

How did you get the idea? What s the genesis?

The idea came when we discovered with a classmate that our skills in 3D simulation could be really helpful to robotics companies, and that these skills were really rare among this industry.

We started by doing a few project on our free time for a French robotics company, this allowed us to get a better idea of what the needs were and how to best answer it. Then we had the intuition that this was only a small application of a much broader problem and as we already had a paying customer, we decided that it was worth trying to create our company on this vision.

What do you sell? What is your company’s mission?

We sell solutions (both service and product) for 3D real time simulation. Our first offering is for the robotics market, where our simulations enable to dramatically cut the development cost and time of robots.

Our vision is to simplify the use of 3D simulation to enable developers that are not expert in 3D technologies to add real time 3D to their applications and to take advantage of high quality 3D simulation technology.

What is your market?

Our first market is in the world of Robotics: robotics constructor and integrator, but also robotics software editors, and robotics software platforms. The robotics market is an emerging market with a forecast of US$ 50billion in 2025.

Our technologies, developed for the really demanding market of robotics, can be easily applied to many other project, especially in the field of virtual reality.

Any clients? References? Partners?

Our main reference is Microsoft Corp. We are working closely with the Microsoft Robotics team and we’ve been involved in several projects around this platform including: Microsoft RoboChamps and Microsoft Imagine Cup Robotics and Algorithm. Both are worldwide robotics software competition, organized entirely in simulation thanks to our technology.

We are of course also working for some robotics constructors.

Funding history? VCs? BA?

We started the company with really little cash, the three founders were all students and we gathered 5000€. Fortunately we had already some clients that helped us to start.

After about a year, we needed a bit more fund to help the company grow and made a small first turn of investment (66 000€) reserved to our friends and family.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

We’re 6 now: 2 full time developers, a part time PhD, a graphic designer, and two former developers who are now in charge of sales and marketing. Two more developers should join us soon.

Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?

For now we’re full, we might be hiring in 2010. We will then be looking for experienced sales and marketing profile, for a job in the south of France.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

We are using Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio for our robotics simulations, this platform is really ideal for us because it enables our simulated robots to be controlled in the exact same way as real robots.

We’re also using Microsoft XNA, and Microsoft WPF for our new simulation engine and our edition tools.

Do you have any Software IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?

We don’t hold any patent as we rely more on constant innovation than patents to protect our business. We’re the only one to offer advanced simulation on the Microsoft Robotics studio platform. Our new simulation engine has also some unique features, but that a bit too early to announce them.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet areas?

The latest technological developments offer a lot of opportunities in the software and internet industry. We have chosen to focus on two of these opportunities:

We all live in a 3D world, and 3D is therefore the human “default” interface. The evolution of 3D technology and of computer hardware is starting to enable the use of advanced 3D technology outside of the field of video game and simulation. There is a lot of evolution going on in user interface, and we think that the use of 3D technology, combined with new interfaces (including motion detection and touch interfaces) will enable a whole new set of applications.

We also live in a world where more and more things become intelligent and connected: what has been called “the internet of objects”. Software becomes embedded in a lot of everyday life objects, and this is changing the way we live. Our vision is that ultimately all these “intelligent object” are “robots”. That’s why we first decided to apply our 3D skills to this domain.

These two visions determine the direction we’ve chosen for SimplySim.

Looking for funding? If yes, how much?

Our current main source of funding is our service offering and some government subventions. We are currently looking for more funds (300 – 500k€) to fasten the development and commercialization of our products. We are also looking for the experience and counsel that a potential investor (BA or VC) could bring.

What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?

Bizspark is an awesome opportunity for software entrepreneurs.

The access to Microsoft development resources and software is an asset that can fasten the developments and help a startup efficiently compete with more established companies. Moreover building innovation on Microsoft products gives professionalism and credibility to the startup technology.

In my opinion a startup can also rely confidently on the quality of Microsoft products and on the reactivity of their development team instead of building on insecure and/or ill maintained open source software.

Any advice to young Software entrepreneurs?

I don’t have much experience to share yet, but I’ll still try an advices:

- Nothing replace a customer experience: the sooner you can sell a service or product to a paying customer the sooner you’ll get all the feedback that is necessary to make your innovation better.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks for making us the startup of the day! Bizspark is awesome, keep up the good work!


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