“I dreamed of becoming Alain Prost, but it remained like a dream.” Francisque Savinien is passionate about cars and Formula 1, more precisely. He likes to remember the nights when, as a teenager, he would borrow his parents’ car for skids. It is therefore natural that he evolved in this field, until he created Epartrade, “A virtual exhibition of equipment and services for professionals”, two years ago.
A business school graduate, he began his career in this field, working on the Magny-Cours circuit (Nièvre). Then, he met the founder of Performance Racing Industry, Steve Lewis, in 1999 on a Californian race. “He had a colossal living room but with only Americans.” He initiates the second and decides to go to the United States to develop the international branch of the show. “I have traveled the world in search of equipment for ten years”, he describes.
Don’t wait to present the latest technologies
That’s when “I have seen an acceleration of technologies with new releases coming out every day. However, trade shows only take place once a year. I then asked myself the question: how to digitize this industry? ” His bosses were not excited, he decided to set up his own business. Epartrade was born from this idea, bringing together equipment manufacturers from several shows on a 24-hour online platform. “Instead of going to England to see an equipment manufacturer to convince them to do a show, I offer them an account on the platform.” The badges are then replaced by a username and a password.
Via the intermediary of Epartrade, manufacturers can contact buyers directly, and vice versa. “In tech, we talk about“ disruption ”(sudden opening of an electrical circuit): we are bringing something new to the industry, but we are not pioneers”, says humbly Francisque Savinien, who has joined forces with two former colleagues, Judy Kean and John Kilroy, in this adventure. They were able to self-finance the start-up.
Besides presenting the latest news, they also wanted to put industry players on the same level. “Traditional salons are limited by the size of convention centers, and they are governed by seniority. Thus, the new boxes are always found to exhibit in the corridors ”, details this fan of Michel Vaillant who also highlights the cost and logistics to participate in this kind of shows.
Today, Epartrade has 23,500 profiles offering products and services (such as design, consultants and engineering): 5,000 suppliers, 16,000 racing companies and 2,500 professional teams; including 300 paying customers. “Many contacts created over the years have followed us in Epartrade”, he considers himself happy.
He is doing well during the health crisis
“With the Covid-19 and the resulting confinement, the traffic on our site has exploded. We have taken on another dimension due to the cancellation of exhibitions and the end of marketing budgets ”, recognizes the entrepreneur who benefits from an absence of competition in digital.
The platform has particularly evolved during this health crisis. Thus, Epartrade organizes webinars every Friday during which manufacturers present their new products. Their immediate success pushes Francisque Savinien to go further: he will organize the Race Ind Week online, from November 30 to December 4.
“Today, all the canceled shows want to offer virtual events, but it doesn’t work in our industry. Unlike “lives” which fill the lack of customer-manufacturer relationships ”, tries to explain the French.
Another advantage taken in the race for success: car racing was not slowed down for long by the Covid-19, the market remaining active. From July, the races resumed behind closed doors and in a condensed way, and in particular those of NASCAR (National Association of Series Car Races), which the French judge “Copies”.