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AcyMailing: 15 years of history, 2 key figures

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AcyMailing is an extension specialising in emailing solutions for your CMS (WordPress and Joomla!). Launched in 2009, it has rapidly established itself as the benchmark for newsletters, with a community of over 60,000 users. To mark its 15th anniversary, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the company’s key figures.

Read our exclusive interview with Adrien Baborier and Alexandre Derocq.

Adrien Baborier

Can you tell us about your educational background?

I’m Adrien Baborier, a computer engineer who graduated from INSA Lyon. During my fourth-year placement, I worked in Ireland for a company specialising in Joomla! modules.

The following year, I went back for a longer placement, and that’s when I became a partner in the company. There were 5 of us French people, and our lives were spent developing Joomla! modules but also partying, so obviously it didn’t last! (laughs)

It didn’t work out, so I came back to France with one of the partners. We liked the business, and there was also a strong emergence of CMS. So we decided to create more substantial modules that we could market, and that’s how Acyba was born.

Tell me about the early days of Acyba?

We originally called our project Joomailing , but trademark problems prompted us to change the name. Acyba met an immediate need in the Joomla! community. At the time, we didn’t have a newsletter system that worked as well as it does today. Very quickly, we had our first employee, Charlotte, a web designer. Then Alexandre as a developer. We’ve always wanted to keep this way of integrating people in order to grow the team: internships, sandwich courses, permanent contracts. I think it’s really great to see people I recruited years ago now.

Why Acyba ?

A from Adrien C from Christelle Y from Audrey (my sister) BA Baborier.

I really liked the idea of symmetry with the two A’s and the Cy, which evokes the ‘cyber’ side of the Internet. Our company wasn’t going to be limited to just AcyMailing, so we were looking for a fairly generic name, but with a web connotation, and one that started with an A so that it could potentially appear at the top of the list on directories. It sounded good in both French and English. We also wanted it to be free on all search engines. As for the design, we had lots of ideas with this central ‘Y’, which was the result of a good family brainstorming session.

Did you encounter any difficulties in setting up the company?

That’s where we were lucky with these digital products: very little investment was required. Everything was financed by our own means. My family had their doubts at first. My father gave me an ultimatum: “By next January, you have to start generating income, otherwise stop everything”. So I created a sort of grid: if in January I don’t earn €1,000, I’ll stop, if in February I don’t earn €1,200, I’ll stop. And in the end, things worked from the start. We didn’t encounter any major difficulties, and the community gave us a warm welcome.

We quickly decided to invest in the French-speaking Joomla users’ association, AFUJ. It was a bit of a coincidence: at our first general meeting, there were about fifty of us in the room, along with Nicolas, my partner at the time. During the meeting, they mentioned the need for new board members. A man I didn’t know encouraged me to raise my hand, and I thought maybe it was because I’d submitted articles before. I took his advice, thinking it was a sign, but in reality he was pointing at someone behind me. So I went to the AFUJ office.

This gave us a better understanding of how the community worked and a more global view of the field.

Initially, doing business with Joomla was frowned upon, because it’s an open source product with a committed community where everything is free. So it was complicated for companies to take advantage of this. We had a purely commercial licence: we offered a free version of our product on the Joomla! store, and then users could buy a commercial licence to benefit from more features. However, Joomla! changed its rules and no longer allowed companies with a commercial licence to be listed. So we had to rethink our entire commercial process. Despite these minor obstacles, we managed to adapt.

At what point did you feel that the solution was working?

I never did. I’ve never been able to stand back and take stock of the situation. I always wanted to do more.

Is this your choice?

It was a bit of a coincidence: I received a letter announcing that Jetpulp was looking to buy companies, mainly software publishers, to diversify their activities. This opportunity came at a time when I was beginning to feel a sense of completion after seven years’ work on the project. I felt it was time to give the whole thing a new impetus. We had moved on from the garage project stage to a real commercialisation phase, with stricter development rules and a team capable of carrying out marketing actions, which I wasn’t in a position to do on my own.

It was important for me to stay in Lyon and not join a huge company, preferring to maintain a human-scale environment while preserving our original essence. We wanted to evolve in a way that would give a new dimension to our work. I got on very well with Luc Romano, the manager at the time, and we shared a common desire and vision for the future of the company.

What is your vision for the Acyba of today?

I’m always following the evolution of the product, I subscribe to the newsletter. I find it really fascinating to see how much the product has evolved since I left seven years ago. Visually, it’s nothing like it was back then, but more importantly, the functionality now covers a wide range of needs. When I sold the company, we were already covering a large number of features, I don’t think they’ve increased but they’re now organised in a much more user-friendly and simple way.

That’s exactly what I was hoping to see at the time of the sale. I have no regrets about leaving the project in the hands of Jetpulp.

That’s what I really love: starting from scratch, developing a business until it becomes profitable, making it prosper for several years, and when I feel that I’ve done all I can and can’t do much more for it, finding a transition.

I’ve already had this experience once with the company in Ireland. Then there was Acyba, and at the same time I was working on a similar solution but on WordPress. The pattern repeated itself: I sold my shares two years after the sale of Acyba. I then moved into a completely different field: law. I eventually passed on the company, and now I’m devoting all my time to LegaVote.

3 adjectives to describe your career as an entrepreneur?

I would say impatience, I have this desire to move forward quickly. Audacity, which encourages me to push back the limits. But there’s also a very human dimension to all this: when I put teams together, it’s like creating a little family. I attach great importance to having a clear direction. I’ve always tried to avoid this kind of management where people work for me. I want the members of the team to feel invested in the project, to make their own contribution. Each person counts, and I want them to understand the importance of their role in the project. If just one ‘brick’ is badly placed, it can compromise the whole structure. It’s not my project, it’s a team project.

It’s essential to take the plunge without fear. Often the barriers seem insurmountable, but in reality they’re not so difficult to overcome. Many things seem unattainable, like mountains we’ll never be able to climb, but in reality, you just have to take one step at a time to move forward. It’s important to stay on course, to stay focused on where you’re going. By setting a goal and sticking to it, you can achieve anything. I see a lot of entrepreneurs who spread themselves too thin, trying one thing and then another without fully investing themselves in an area where they have studied and developed a business plan. It’s crucial to stay focused and give your best in a field you’ve mastered, following a well-defined plan.

Don’t ask questions, just go for it.

Alexandre Derocq

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

To tell you the truth, my career path is fairly straightforward because I’ve only been with one company: I spent 10 years with Acyba. When I arrived, I had the privilege of being the first developer. This is the only company I’ve ever worked for, passing through the stages of trainee, sandwich course and permanent contract. I progressed from development trainee to manager, enriching my experience. Over the years, I’ve developed solid expertise, particularly in the use of WordPress.

Now I’m fully committed to developing a real estate application. Its main aim is to simplify the search for accommodation by bringing together all the property listings from various sites in a single application, making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for.

How did your first steps at Acyba go?

We shared our premises with another company, Hikashop. The atmosphere was more family-like, almost intimate. We were in a flat: they worked in the bedroom and we worked in the living room.

It was my first job, so it was a bit scary for me, but Adrien always assured me that I was excellent at the interview. I had brought my projects with me and I was always confident that it would work.

Adrien guided me through every step of the process, encouraging us to maintain a quality work dynamic, to be attentive to customer needs and to place great importance on support. It’s fair to say that I’ve benefited from quality training with him.

How did you feel about the Jetpulp takeover?

The takeover has not changed our business as such. We have retained our freedom and autonomy. On the other hand, this transition has enabled us to learn an enormous amount, particularly in terms of our working methods. Thanks to Jetpulp, we have adopted practices such as sprints and scrum, which have considerably improved our efficiency and productivity. What’s more, this collaboration has given us access to a host of experts in various fields such as SEO and marketing, which has been extremely beneficial to our development.

How would you describe your development within Acyba?

I think I’ve reached my limits in the area where I excel most. I’m more inclined towards project management and human resources management than code development. Although I’m competent in programming, that’s not where my real passion lies. My commitment as a developer has evolved over time: at the beginning, I was essentially focused on development, then we gradually integrated a support dimension into our tasks. When Sylvain took over the reins at Acyba, I expressed my desire to concentrate more on support and finding ideas to improve AcyMailing. Over time, my involvement extended to the general development of the company, helping to determine the strategic choices and directions to take. When Sylvain left, I assumed leadership of the company, ready to take on the challenges ahead.

What challenges did you face as head of Acyba?

Our first major challenge was to design a single extension that was compatible with both Joomla! and WordPress. This meant that every new feature we added had to be available on both CMSes. From a technical point of view, this was a major challenge for our team.

Once we started working on WordPress, our main challenge was to make a name for ourselves. We were starting from scratch, while other well-established solutions had already been in place for years. Despite this, I had absolute confidence in the features we were developing, and I was convinced that we could compete with the three main newsletter extensions on the market!

Why did you leave?

I left because I felt I wasn’t learning anything and I’d run out of ideas. I needed a change, a new challenge. At Jetpulp, I’d been in charge of all the developer management, but it had become routine, with no real challenge. I needed to feel stimulated again, to rediscover the passion and energy I’d lost.

Why did you make this choice?

I’d say the challenge. Over the last 10 years, I’ve learnt an enormous amount, not least by interacting with a multitude of people with different visions, especially in the field of WordPress. Before joining Jetpulp, I had a desire to become an entrepreneur, but I felt that I lacked technical skills. However, thanks to Jetpulp, I’ve been able to learn a wide range of skills, from marketing and business to development, SEO and project management. This has made me feel better prepared and more confident in my ability to take on new challenges.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?

Perhaps I don’t have enough hindsight yet, but I’d say that you should never give up, even when the challenges seem insurmountable, even with a lot of baggage. I love solving problems: I can spend hours looking for solutions from every angle.

Entrepreneurship is difficult, and being alone can be even more so. You can of course count on those around you, but sometimes no one can really understand what you’re going through. My advice would be to surround yourself with people, to make as many contacts as possible, so that you have someone to turn to if you need help. Inside Jetpulp, I felt a bit like an entrepreneur, but with the security that offered.

How far have you got with your project?

I’ve been working on Casanea for a year now, but I still haven’t managed to generate any income, as I’m the only one managing the whole project. It’s a huge challenge to manage everything on my own, and even though I’ve had offers to raise funds, I don’t feel like sharing the project. Despite that, I’m making steady progress, but I have to juggle development, design and communication with managing my personal life, which is extremely difficult. I think I’ll finish development in the next few days, and then I intend to focus on communication through social networks and consider working with influencers.

Our warmest thanks go to Adrien Baborier and Alexandre Derocq for sharing their experience and vision of entrepreneurship with us. Their stories remind us of the importance of determination, resilience and hard work in pursuing our dreams.

Thanks to them, we were able to dive into the world of Acyba and discover the journeys of Adrien Baborier and Alexandre Derocq. From the origins of their company to their daily challenges as entrepreneurs, and including key moments in their professional development, we were able to appreciate the passion and commitment that drive them.

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