Thursday, November 29, 2018

Building bigger, building further

Growing beyond current limits

Since the digital environment is always evolving, companies and professionals involved in the industry constantly need to evolved and develop new means of doing business and doing better business. The digital environment, through internet, via computers and mobile devices, is reaching a certain maturity globally. In developed countries the market is mature, competition is fierce and those who cannot compete get out of business. In developing countries, the market is reaching maturity and large local actors are developing their presence to grab what is left by the global leaders: Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

To cope with this move, new strategies that focus on yield must be implemented in order to create the most outputs with the least inputs. In this sense, taking lessons from the relative success of ASEAN UP, a new website has been created to expand globally on what is a regional platform. Thus Disfold is created to increase both in scale, aiming at the global market, and in scope, with the possibility of looking beyond ASEAN UP's focus on pure business. Even though a website's success is never ensured, it would seem that Disfold could go much further than its predecessor's regional footprint.

Growing beyond current environment

Besides the global expansion in digital targeted by Disfold, since the entire digital industry seems to approach a roof in growth due the maturity of underlying technologies and actors, new related industries are also a good opportunity to expand into. One of the most promising technologies that can be related to digital and may be ventured into is Artificial Intelligence. The elephant in the tech room, Artificial Intelligence opens new frontiers not only for business, but also for everyday life. AI is expected to be a game changer in many, if not all, business sectors and industries, and possibly in all of human life and social interactions. The coming decade may break false hopes, but it will certainly also create new horizons in many dimensions of human life and work.

In order to learn more in Artificial Intelligence, and more specifically in the red hot sub-domain of Machine Learning, Ailephant was created as a cornerstone for learning, developing and venturing into the AI world. Currently it modestly gathers resources, codes, methods, techniques and algorithms for all those who are interested in the field. Hopefully it could grow further with time into much more. With tens of resources and best practices, links to the most useful methods of learning and implementing AI, Ailephant already brings a small pebble in the field of AI... Maybe it could grow further: do not hesitate to share your ideas and leave your comments for the AI community.

In any case, come have a look at both websites, and don't hesitate to follow their evolution and share your ideas. They seem to be most promising now, with your input they could become great!
See you there soon!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Content marketing and small business

There is a lot of competition on Internet. Everyone that produces online content is competing to reach the limited attention of the largest number of people in the most relevant topic to generate a benefit: selling advertising, e-commerce, or related services. The creation and promotion of contents on Internet has paved the way for "Content Marketing": its success is due to its ability to generate direct or indirect revenues for businesses and people.

But as more and more content is produced, and more and more people produce better and better contents, the digital space is becoming saturated with a profusion of articles, videos, tutorials, infographics, case studies, etc. that compete for a limited, more and more tired audience. In this game where marketing melts into media, the ultimate reward for the best content is to get recognition from Google and other search-engines through being placed first on their results pages.

Content is king
The most insightful, most digestible, most original and contents appealing to the most people will take the lion's share of the audience. Recognition by websites through the creation of links, and people approbation through social media "likes" are markers of quality that push less remarkable contents out of sight. Or so goes the basic logic of search-engines and news curating systems: expose what is successful.

Leaving asides all the techniques that deliberately intend to trick people and search engines (and will sooner or later be punished by the latter) and the below-par homemade websites or publishing platforms that do not implement the fundamental of search-engine optimization, there are in practice several stains to the beauty of the simple mechanic of "content in king".

Established media domination
One of the major skew to the system are the established websites, media and brands. Even though it is not in their best interest in the long term, they can publish content (maybe occasionally) that is not best in class. They are however so established, have so much traffic and are such references that have succeeded in gathering so many links and "likes" in the past, that a new content from such media or brand is often put on top of search engines and other news-pushing systems (such as Facebook homepage, LinkedIn Pulse, Google News...), while a single article in a newer or smaller website or blog can be more useful, insightful, easier to understand, original...

Where that system becomes perverse, is when the established media copies (a negative intent that is not a sound long term strategy either), or less harmfully, and much more often, just mentions or curates such an interesting content from a secondary media. Many times, the established media will receive more visits and corresponding benefits (advertising dollars, products sales, requests of services...) that helps the established media or brand rather than the newer one.

New websites invisibility
The corollary issue is that new websites that produce great content cannot obtain all the benefits that they should in terms of traffic, at least not in the short-term. New contents cannot have earned all the recognition (links, likes...) that older contents have; new websites cannot have earned as much recognition as older media. So it will take time to obtain links, likes, "recognition" before search engines and social media understand that the newer websites content can be more interesting than the older. In the meantime, the established media or brand contents will be put forward until the new publisher earns enough recognition to be taken seriously by search engines and social networks algorithms.

Of course, obtaining that recognition will require efforts of marketing, to communicate and broadcast its contents; resources that could otherwise be spent producing new quality contents... In the middle and long run producing great content will help the smaller media, but can it obtain and manage sufficient resources until then?

Solutions for the small companies and new publishers
The evident solution is of course to produce great quality contents, and a large quantity of it. Over time all search engines, social media and people should understand that your content is worth it. But the human resource, capital and time of a small company are very limited: they must therefore be spent strategically to maximize the best return in the shortest time. That is what we do with Fluorcom: we help small business using their resources to maximize the value of digital communication investments.

Competitive advantage
The strategic solution for small companies engaging into content marketing is to start where they have a certain competitive advantage: skill, experience, networks, contacts... Producing contents for themes, areas, products where they can, still often proves too much to do. It is therefore very important to narrow down to less competitive niche, that is to say, where less established media and brands compete. Mechanically, it should prove to be a smaller investment of resources to attain a certain recognition and volume of audience. Of course, the volume and the potential benefits through advertising or sales of other products and services should be carefully weighted to be worth the investment in content production and promotion.

This is what we achieved through the creation of "Architecte de Bâtiments", with a modest success, going after the niche of architecture of buildings in France, using skills (responsive website and content creation) and contacts available: partnership with my father's architect agency (!).

Contiguous niche
For content publishers that are not beginning anymore, there is another solution through which we seem to reach a faster harvest: having already a small asset, such as "Architecte de Bâtiments", we develop a similar approach in the contiguous niche of the architecture of houses in France. Having gathered some more skills in understanding architecture and the French construction market, as well as a little recognition through Architecte de Bâtiments, we have created "Architecte de Maisons" through a new partnership with my uncle's architect agency, specialized in the architecture of houses (!!!).

The result is that we can reuse some contents and designs, relate information between both sites and reach an audience faster than the first launch period of Architecte de Bâtiments. Even though this niche is larger, it is also much more competitive, and we seem after only 3 months to gear towards a promising future.

As an update to the Architecte de Bâtiments and Architecte de Maisons ventures, an English version was by translating and updating their contents and adapting them to the international market. This new venture, ArchiAdvisor, will allow us to test the global market for architecture and understand better the dynamics of content marketing for architecture in English.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The value of your network

Anyone who starts a company, whatever the sector, will sooner or later need to sell some products or services... and very often this will happen sooner rather than later. The initial money from the founder's savings or initial investment will allow for the so much development of a product or skills to be sold until the funds run out. At this point the company will be caught by the business imperative : find some money to continue or die. And unless a new funding round can be secured, the company will need to sell something, which will finally happen some day anyway.

At the point of selling, the obvious contacts base any company will turn to is the primary network which will have been aggregated previously, during the early stage of the company or, much more likely, during past experience of the founder and eventual associates or employees. This will be the first test of the quality of a company's offer: if it cannot sell into its primary network, and is unable to reach further directly, it is destined to end.

If it does sell to its core network of close family and friends, with extensions to former work colleagues, long-lost acquaintances and casual encounters that become friends and customers as your offer triggers a closer relationship that satisfies one of their needs, it passes this first step and goes on to the next round of finding more clients and more money to keep on developing products and/or learning new skills to serve.

As for me, I would like to thank my friends and family, whom I am very much grateful to, for having been my earliest support and initial customer base for my first venture, the digital agency Fluorcom, especially:
Though this initial input of money and credit for your products or services can be important to continue going forward, your primary network will also give you an opportunity for growth by enabling you to learn from them and/or benefit from their extended network to services other people or companies like them or linked to them.

From them you can get access to an extended network, acquire extra specific skills or knowledge of a particular environment, sector or industry that will allow you to sell better, resell or sell further. That is what happened to me and my company: thanks to my first clients, I could reach to more clients, learn more from their particular industry and expand further into similar environments. And I guess, this is the subsequent step towards the success of your venture: go beyond your own network. Hopefully I can write more about this soon ;).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why entrepreneurship, international and digital?

In this new post I will present the reasons I became, or at least tried to become, an international and digital entrepreneur. The journey to do so has not been easy, and most certainly is far from being complete, but as for everything in life, the journey is often more important than the goal. Anyhow, I hope my motivations and reasons might bear some interests for some people, so I will try to present them as clearly and concisely as possible.

As to this the latest of these attributes, entrepreneur, I believe, it is a very important trait of my personnality from a most early age. Many will say that they have always had the will, the drive, the independance and the energy it takes to become an entrepreneur, but very few actually take the decision to start on their own and keep on going forward when the first difficulties arise. People who wish to become entrepreneur be warned: it is hard, lonely and demanding road you would engage on.

I do not know any entrepreneur who's been successful by himslef, as soon as he started his venture. They all have faced doubts, fears, lack of self-confidence, lack of money, lack of support and even conflict within their own organization. Fewer have not given up for the comfort of having a steady income you can rely upon, reasonable working hours that let you have some peace out of your job, or even a boss taking decisions for you not to have to be responsible for failures. Even fewer have come to earn any money, fewer again to reach some sort of success.

As for me, I am far from being done with an established and undoubtedly recognized success, but after more than 2 years, I am still confident in my will to face it all to remainan entrepreneur at the head of my company EYE3 GROUP and its ventures.

Concerning the international dimension that I try to embody for my company and its ventures, it comes from a double realization. 

First, a strong international has been part of my education and personal profile from a very age. As young as 15 years old, I could participate in a 3-month exchange in Ontario, Canada, quite far from my family, my native language and city of Lyon, France. Later, I had the chance to go study one year in London, one year in Madrid and one year in Paris, through my scholarship at ESCP Europe. After graduating, I was hired to work in Vietnam for 2 years, before starting my company in Hong Kong while managing it from Vietnam, and finally move to Thailand last year.

The second reason comes from a constation that many I made quite early as many other people do: an international company intrisically have an edge over non-international companies. Formulated differently, a company, even a single-person one, which can properly manage an international network of stakeholders, clients, providers or workers (directly hired or subcontractors), its administration and finances, has an advantage over any national companies through its ability to better optimize the use of its resources, its needs and its expenses, as costs, rules and skills differ a lot from one country to another. This also comes from a deeper constatation: as the economy became really global (after the end of the Cold War) and people, goods and capital can now move quite freely almost anywhere in the world, the notion of "nation" has been rendered somehow obsolete, to the great despair of national politicians who always try to solidify their vanishing powers, but I believe, to the great benefit of any and every individual, be it for business or not.

The last axis that I try to make the most of for my company is the digital revolution, that is shaking the very foundation of business and society.

As presented above, I believe that companies that can manage their resources internationally have an edge over non-international ones. The extremely large array of digital tools available for businesses render this international management almost as easy as the management of local resources. And what's even more beautiful about it is that it doesn't come at a great cost! Many extremely useful services are free, and the hardware and connections required to make it work are every day cheaper.

The second advantage of the digital century, which is obvious but somehow becoming everyday more difficult to benefit from is the reach of Internet: any business big and small can reach almost anyone through Internet and the digital products and services it helps to convey. Nevertheless, this opportunity vanishes for more and more companies, as it takes everyday more skills and money to reach people that are everyday more Internet-aware and difficult to convince. Thankfully for me and my company, one of our ventures is Fluorcom, which also becomes everyday more skillful at communicating in this digital era, as do I... ;-)

Monday, February 18, 2013


Welcome to my new blog!

I will try to present here (in English for now, until I figure out the best way to present this information in multiple languages beyond the limitations of Google Translate...) some views and reflections on international and digital entrepreneurship that I gather in my everyday life as the founder and managing director of EYE3 GROUP and working with a variety of people to launch, develop and manage its various ventures, in several countries, especially, France, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Most notably the ventures that were launched with some success:

-Fluorcom, a digital communication agency, that's actually the Internet and digital backbone of EYE3 GROUP and a way to provide quality services while keeping on learning about the Internet and digital environment to stay ahead of its latest developments, strategies, design, technologies, marketing techniques and trends. Though a much stronger client base needs to be built, a certain sign of success with Fluorcom is the very positive feedback received from our few clients, especially when they come back to us for more services.

-Architecte de Bâtiments, a guide for buildings project managers in France (exclusively in French) that gives a lot of useful information on how to conceive and construct buildings in France. This website also allows visitors to obtain a quotation for their project from our associated architects. The most obvious sign of at least some success with this venture is that, in its particular niche, Architecte de Bâtiments is starting to earn the attention of a few thousands of visitors per month.

-EYE3 AGENCY is an international entreprises services agency that helps companies launch, develop and manage their international operations, especially between Europe and Asia, and possibly also America. EYE3 AGENCY's business is still very modest, but a lot of demand comes from companies in many countries like India, France, the UK, Greece; and I certainly hope to push it forward soon!

These small successes have not come to realization without a lot of work, a lot of worries and the occasional emergencies to resolve on the go some troubles that had never been expected. Nevertheless these hassles are  probably part of all companies' journeys, and certainly some of the moments when particular points of weakness get improved, skills acquired and a manager's views enlarged. These will probably come along to fuel the stories of these blog, probably also with their lots of crispiness to be shared with you! ;-)

Thank you for following my adventures which I hope to have enough time to share with all of you on a regular basis. And for all of you entrepreneurs out there, courage!

Please do share your views, opinions and experiences!