In 2006, Véronique Torner and Philippe Montargès set up Alter Way, a digital service company specialising in open source that designs, develops, hosts and provides maintenance for web projects. Almost 10 years after its inception, Alter Way currently employs around 120 people and works with a number of prestigious clients such as SNCF, France Télévision digital publications and the French Prime Minister’s office.
In order to implement Born2run, their ambitious expansion plan, Véronique Torner and Philippe Montargès decided to look for a new investor, an industrial partner who could give them access to major European accounts. As a result, in June 2015, Alter Way joined the Econocom galaxy.
So why did they choose to join forces with Econocom? How can Alter Way and its open source expertise offer the group new opportunities? We spoke to Véronique Torner, co-founder and co-president of Alter Way.
ALTER WAY : Open source is their DNA!
Alter Way offers a comprehensive range of solutions focusing on four areas: design (ergonomics, UX design and accessibility), build (engineering and development), run (infrastructures, hosting, open source software support) and train (open source and digital training).
But what they have in common, other than the fact that they’re web-based, is that they’re all developed using open source technologies.
Alter Way’s clients include major names such as Renault, Safran, Total and Prisma Presse, pure plays like Allo Resto and La Ruche Qui Dit Oui, and major government organisations: it hosts all the internal websites of the French Prime Minister’s office.
“Being an entrepreneur means realising a vision”
In 1998, Véronique Torner set up her first company, a tech startup, which she sold off a few years later to join Philippe Montargès to work on a project which was also subsequently sold.
For this experienced entrepreneur, a number of qualities are required to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure. A company head needs plenty of self-confidence and the ability to motivate a team and get them to believe in a project. They also need the courage to face the various obstacles they’re likely to come across, such as administrative red tape and rigid labour laws.
Véronique Torner and Philippe Montargès set up Alter Way in 2006. Both are extremely committed to promoting transparency, interoperability, expertise and technical excellence in open source digital technology. In 2013, Véronique Torner became a member of the board of the Syntec Numérique, a union of companies in the digital industry, whilst Philippe Montargès was appointed chairman of the French National Council for Free Software (CNLL) in June 2015.
Originally founding Alter Way with the aim of specialising in free and open source software, as the company expanded, the founders gradually decided to focus on the web.
“The partnership with Econocom was the result of a meeting of the minds”
During its first three years, Alter Way expanded via external growth, acquiring a number of companies. After six years of consolidating the acquisitions and organic growth, Torner and Montargès felt the need to build a project for the company’s future. This is how Born2Run came about, a growth plan that was both a challenge in terms of revenue (rising from €11 to 40 million) and a pan-European strategic vision.
Meeting Jean-Louis Bouchard, Chairman and founder of Econocom, and Bruno Grossi, Executive Director in charge of strategy, acquisitions, communication and strategic marketing for the group, was a turning point for the heads of Alter Way. They immediately understood that Econocom could support them in their development strategy, whilst Alter Way, meanwhile, could bring added value to the Econocom galaxy. For open source is predominant in the age of the cloud, big data, mobility and IoT, and in Econocom’s vision of the challenges of digital, open-source digital technology plays a crucial role:
“80% of web solutions today are open source. Without these, there’d be no Google or Twitter… All the GAFA were built from open source components!”
Econocom’s investment in Alter Way’s share capital, which was reported in the French press, gave extensive visibility to the company and created a climate of trust which reassured clients and partners. For an SMB with international ambitions, the future ’is wide “open”!
Crédit photo : Pexels / Licence CC0