It’s a big, big change. We’re seeing startups become more robust with their business models – and we are delighted with the role we are playing in helping them on that journey.
To share more with you about our startup program and the types of companies it’s benefiting, I sat down with Mikkel Marott, our program manager for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works for Startups initiative in EuroNorth. We discussed the program, progress we’ve made to date, and our aspirations for the future.
John Kitchingman: Mikkel, can you explain the history of the program and how it has evolved into what it is today?
Mikkel Marott: The first iteration of the startup program came about in 2014. It was started by Greg Smith, who was then director of the SOLIDWORKS for entrepreneurs. Greg spent a lot of time working with venture capitalists and small startups with big ideas. He knew what made these companies tick and recognized the support they needed to get their idea to market and scale it up.
So he recognized that startup companies are different from our regular customers, right? He knew that we have to support them in a different way?
Exactly. He also wanted to do something for the greater good – and that’s something that reflects the ethos of Dassault Systèmes. One of our missions is harmonizing product, nature and life with sustainable supply chains. And, as you know, many startups are targeting one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations. We want to help and support that.
So that’s where the program started. Over the past few years it has really begun to gain traction – as you mentioned earlier, we are now seeing 1,000 new companies join the program every year, the majority of which now remain with us for the second year.
Yes, it’s great to see that more companies are seeing the value of the technology after that initial year. What any new startup wants is to get their product to market as quickly as they can to create money for their longevity – and that’s what we are helping them to achieve, right? With that in mind, can you explain a little more about the benefits startups get from the program, and how it’s making a difference to innovative companies looking to scale up their business?
Of course. It’s a three-year program. In the first year, they get our solutions for free depending roles required The second year they get a 70% discount. And in the third year they get a 50% discount.
The program is really designed to support them throughout their journey – we want to help and support startups with the software they need in the long term, even at the start point when they can’t afford it. Many startups suddenly need to scale, and their software needs to be able to support that. If it can’t, then it’s like having unplanned downtime on a production line, which can be devastating for a business. They need to find a new solution quick, figure out how to move their data and then learn how to use the software. There’s a whole host of problems. However, by giving them access to our solutions from the start, we eliminate all these problems. I challenge all startups to outgrow the functionality of our solutions. So basically, I believe our solutions are future-proof for all types of startups.
We can help them get off the starting line with the right set of tools so they can grow and scale their company without having to worry about downtime in the design phase. And then, on top of that, we give them the functionality they need to work collaboratively. The platform is connecting disconnected people in a connected way. Too many startups are using multiple different platforms to communicate – sometimes ten or more – but it’s such a dislocated way of working. By enabling these people to all work together right within the platform, we are delivering even more benefits for everyone.
Exactly. And once these companies are over the start line, there’s so much potential. A lot can happen in those first 36 months of business, can’t it?
Absolutely. I’ve seen a company develop their product and take it to market in the first two years, and then get acquired by another company for millions of dollars. It’s not an uncommon story. I recently went to the Slush event in Helsinki where a startup made a pitch to investors. By the time I left the event and got to the airport, I got a message saying that this company had got €100 million in funding.
I love those examples. I’ve seen a lot too. I’ll never forget meeting with a small group of engineers in our offices just a few short years ago. They were talking about setting up a company called Lightyear to develop the first production solar car in the world. Well, Lightyear is now a 450-person company in Holland. They want to grow to 1,000 people in the next 12 months, and they have over 20,000 pre-orders for the Lightyear 2. It’s such an inspiration – and I’m so proud that we have been able to support their journey.
It’s so motivating isn’t it. A lot of the startups we are working with want to change the world. They are brave and ambitious and it’s great to be helping them realize their dreams – and so satisfying when we see their product coming to fruition.
Definitely, it’s a partnership we have with these companies, so when their products go to market or hit the shelves, we really feel that success don’t we? I think this partnership role is something that makes us unique – I spoke about it in my last blog post – and I believe that this is something that we are going to focus on in the months and years ahead with our startup program?
Yes, so one of the next iterations of the startup program is getting the whole team able to speak the language of a startup. For me, this means really getting to know each and every one of our customers and understanding where they are as a business, what’s important for them, what are the trends in their industry and how they can move forward. This will help us to streamline our offering and tailor packages that meet exacting needs.
I agree, this will help us to become even better at helping startups to scale at speed. It’s taking the role of trusted advisor to the next level.
Yes. I think we have so much industry experience that we can share. We work with some of the biggest names in industry, so if we can share some of that then we can help create inspirational roadmaps and ensure every one of our startup customers has a better chance of success.
Learn more about the 3DEXPERIENCE Works for Startups Program and how your business can benefit.