This article is one of a series, “Sixty Entrepreneurs Who Are Developing the Region,” published in the Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace (DNA) on April 3, 2012 and written by Antoine Latham. Alsace is a small but significant region that sits on the eastern border of France.
Born in Strasbourg and deeply attached to his region, Jean Georges Perrin is the founder of digital start-up, GreenIvory, a bicontinental tech company with locations in France and in the United States. Perrin’s dedication to the technological community has been recognized for the fourth year in a row through his designation as “IBM Champion,” a developer or IT professional who has taken a leadership role in technology and has made significant contributions to the tech community. Jean Georges is proud to be recognized by IBM as one of the few French Champions.
Perrin manages his company from his Haguenau home, but our meeting took place in an office of the Reichstett telecentre, a local technology center, where the GreenIvory team holds its weekly meetings.
In the courtyard of the former company headquarter, Uhl Bonaventure Informatique, where storks have built their nest atop a lamppost, GreenIvory’s boss looks content. “We all meet here once a week. The rest of the time, GreenIvory employees are traveling or working from home.” With a decor reminiscent of the 1970′s and a cafeteria improvised around a massive carpenter’s bench with a venerable throne time clock in the lobby, Jean Georges describes the origin of his company’s unique name.
GreenIvory is a combined metaphor of two ambitions cherished by the entrepreneur: continuous growth, (like the tusks of elephants throughout their lives), and sustainable development, (less paper, less travel, less waste).
Ecologically virtuous perhaps, but with only 10 employees in France and one in North Carolina (United States) and with 230,000 euros (about $300,000) in revenue, GreenIvory is still not the size of an elephant. “We are small now, but that will change. I feel a clear acceleration of our business. We had to rearrange the box [Fr. slang: company]; everybody plays the game. We originally had a very technical company profile, not commercial enough. Without being pretentious, I don’t think there are many “boxes” like ours in Alsace, that invest so much in research and development. We have had setbacks but we are still here because of our clients… We will always have the mindset of a start-up,” said the leader, who wants to grow, but who categorically opposes the suggestion of going public: “To lead a business to success and sell it is tempting, but I don’t want to sacrifice the company. There are talents—people of great talent—in GreenIvory, and these skills must remain in Alsace.”
Born in Strasbourg on October 5th, 1971 , Jean Georges Perrin spent his childhood in northern Alsace and moved with his family (to follow his father’s career in an American multinational company), to Morocco, the Netherlands, and Finland before returning to Strasbourg, Alsace to attend the Couffignal High School and later earning a master’s degree in advanced computer science. The father of two boys, for whom he protects his weekends and projects, Jean Georges chose to anchor his family in Alsace.
Perrin has a history of interest in innovation. “In 1995, I participated in the creation of Pandemonium, (a leading provider of Internet access in the country), which was sold in 2000 and was affected by the bursting of the dot com bubble. Some know-how remained.” This ‘know-how’ led him to his next post at software company, Four J’s Development Tools, in Schiltigheim. Four J’s promotes tools that allow developers to be innovative and efficient resulting in faster turnaround time and a less-expensive bottom line. Jean Georges notes nostalgically, “It was with this company that I took my first trip around the globe.”
In 2002, Perrin created Awoma, a company dedicated to developing solutions (Note: development tools) in Java: “A good idea, but one that has not yet found its market…,” says Jean Georges Perrin soberly. Following Awoma are what he calls, with a touch of self-mockery, “the wilderness years.” It was in 2006 that his experience and ideas were emulsifying, leading to the birth of GreenIvory in September 2007.
“I had observed how companies that create their website spend a large sum to create it and then tend to forget it completely. They forget that the site needs to be nurtured to create traffic. “To boost its clients’ sites, Jean Georges Perrin offers an application, MashupXFeed, that has a watch on the internet and automatically “pushes” content that may be of interest to the customers’ site. VoiceObserver is especially dedicated to the automatic watch on the company’s online reputation (Note: brand management). GreenIvory serves a ranges of customers including a distributor of agricultural equipment, a private company in northern Alsace, a program of access to public markets dependent agency of the regional council.
“Going forward, GreenIvory will focus on the creation of customized tools. We will build tailor-made tools for specific outlets. We have great research and development projects and many ideas in our boxes,” says Jean Georges Perrin. He adds: “I like projects that simplify people’s lives.” He hopes to offer new solutions for intelligence in intellectual property and counterfeiting.
His company has been awarded the Young Innovative Company status (Note: Jeune Entreprise Innovante, or JEI, in French) of the French authorities. “We are one of the only companies authorized by the Ministry of Research to do private research in Alsace. We just received our accreditation from 2011 to 2013. In other words, the French government considers us a private lab. This is an advantage for our customers, who can deduct the expenses through their research tax credit (Note: Crédit d’Impot Recherche, or CIR, in French).”
The first in France to receive the title “IBM Champion,” a recognition renewed this year, Jean Georges is feeling pretty proud. The Alsacian company has recently been recognized by IBM. “Big Blue” recently posted a tribute to its Franco-American partner, for its use of IBM database technology. This honor is awarded to the best brand ambassadors. There are 200 in the world and only a handful in France.”
Perrin chose Durham, North Carolina, not far from a major IBM lab, for GreenIvory’s American location. A familiar U.S. visitor (traveling to the states four or five times each year), Jean Georges Perrin knows the country quite well. “Overall, I have already spent more than a year in the United States. This is a great country for skill development. The conferences are exciting and very professional.”
Perrin continues to bring his mission home. “Improving people’s lives is more than a program— it is a vocation and a vision… ” Jean Georges said with verve in Mulhouse, Alsace in his 2010 TEDxAlsace presentation. (Note: first TEDxAlsace in Mulhouse). As a child, Jean Georges Perrin wanted to invent robots: “For years I wondered why. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to improve the lives of my neighbor. I wanted to make working more enjoyable, less stultifying.” Many years later, the man realizes part of the dream of the child by developing tools that make life easier, and Jean Georges Perrin remains convinced that “the tool-improvement curve never stops.” A nice message of hope, no?
The entrepreneur is outspoken, not hesitating to put regional politicians in front of what he considers to be their responsibility. He had, in particular, posted a “rant” in this column, suggesting a wait-and-see attitude, even indifference, of Alsacian politicians toward digital industries. He views this industry, obviously, as a key to the future of Alsace.
“This made an impact, but more must follow.” He had a face-to-face explanation from Francois Loos (former national Secretary of State for Industry) on these topics. Loos is aware of the problems. Says Jean Georges of his meeting, “Politicians have understood, I think, the need to do something. Knowing what to do is less clear”.
- Press article in the Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace (DNA) on April 3rd 2012 (French). Download of the article on the Adira’s web site, or direct download.
- GreenIvory – Fast performance and scalability deliver seven million web pages a day (on IBM.com, English).
I will be attending Futurallia in Kansas City on May 18 – 20 (just following the IIUG Informix Conference). My goal is to find 3 different kinds of partners there:
- Empower distributors to offer and build their own service offerings on top of our solutions.
- Extend technology partners with our know-how in web data analysis and curation (cleansing).
- Identify language specialist to extend our tools in some language areas we do not cover internally (we cover English, French & German).
For more information:
We have noticed that most people only put one brand in an analysis in VoiceObserver. You can add as many brands & model as you wish.
You can compare the iPad to the Xoom, Coke vs. Pepsi, but you can compare yourself with more than one competitor…
There’s one recommendation of course, don’t compare apples to oranges (and not Apple to Orange). Be sure your comparison makes sense.
It is probably the first time (or at least one of the first time) I give praise to a product or a service. In this case, I must admit I am pretty impressed by the Apple App Store for the Mac. It opened a few hours ago and it is already very attractive.
I am impressed by the pricing policy which is closer to the App Store than to Best Buy and the similar retail shops. As an example, Aperture 3 costs 199€ on the traditional Apple Store (physical goods), vs. 63€ on the App Store (virtual goods). It is not always true, as for some games like Lego Harry Potter which costs the same. It is interesting to see what is going to happen to tools like Steam on the Mac & gaming .
Apple innovates but it is not the first one on this field. I’d like to also recommend my friend Thibauld Favre’s Allmyapps who offer a very exciting platform too, discover it at http://allmyapps.com/.
What’s the link between Apple and GreenIvory? None… at least as of now.
Have fun with all those fat client apps .
Even if most of France and Europe is under the snow and even if our European headquarters have been under a severe strike by billions of snowflakes, all our services are up and running. The technical team here at GreenIvory even suggested we should re-discuss our hosting deals as they are saving money on cooling those days.
Happy holidays to all of you.
Yes, it is now available… MashupXFeed Business is now available. MashupXFeed Free is free, this edition brings a lot more, so we charge a little… but less than $1 a day.
But what does MashupXFeed Business bring?
MashupXFeed™ Business offers more advanced features that MashupXFeed™ Free including the publication of all articles (the Free edition does publish only 2 per day), the management of multiple categories, access to optional technical support, the extending the limit of required keywords to 100, the number of sources from 7 to 25, hiding the “Disclosed by GreenIvory MashupXFeed™ and especially the choice whether to add or not prohibited keywords. Like MashupXFeed™ Free, you manage your own project. To get started, go to http://www.mashupxfeed.com.
We will highlight our new features as time goes, but today we wanted to focus on what you can get for less than $1…
- a baguette (hey, remember we are French and, yet, it depends where it comes from),
- a dozen chewing gum,
- a stick of butter (1st prize only),
- a drink in a bar? No more expensive (not even in Vegas Baby),
- a Christmas ornament (only if made in China)…
I have made bet with my French-speaking team that we will have more suggestions on things costing less than $1 on our English blog than on our French blog… so help me win my bet… Yes, Stuart, you can go to the dollar store!
I wanted to highlight the changes going in the sales and marketing within IBM and why the best Informix release will be even better.
Although I am an IT engineer (read technician), I now run a company of over 15 people. You need to open a little bit your mind on “other” subjects such as sales, marketing and human resources… I skipped finance as you may have noticed .
GreenIvory builds rock-solid, feature-rich, technology-based products. Both MashupXFeed and VoiceObserver are technology masterpieces, but this is not why we manage to sell them. It was hard for a technology savvy guy like me to understand that. Now that I got the message (and hopefully apply it), I am shocked by companies not applying those basic rules to promote their products.
This has been the case for a while with IBM Informix. They always had a great team of engineers and they always managed to build great products… but until recently, they were still selling like in the 80s, when the company was created: “our engine supports 32K rows, theirs is limited to 16K”, “we are limited to 128 peta-bytes database, theirs can go to whatever size”. Of course, as it’s IBM, they don’t mention the “others”, but you get the example.
Things are changing and IBM sales and marketing is now more efficient. I see the efforts from worldwide team to promote this great database engine. I still don’t know what I can officially speak of, but the future looks promising on this side too.
I am in a plane, about 32000’ above see level, and over Windsor in Canada. I always find it funny to be able to surf the Internet in a plane.
I am actually on my way to Las Vegas, NV, where IBM’s Information Management division is having its IOD conference. One of the big hit for IOD this year is the recent launch of Informix Panther, aka 11.7. To celebrate this launch, we, at GreenIvory, launched an iPhone app dedicated to the Informix users called “AlwaysOnLibrary for Informix”.
I think you should have a look at it (http://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/blocksmania/id397472154) and tell us how we can improve it.
You can also read our full press release at http://www.greenivory.com/News/Latest/Informix-Panther-includes-many-inovations-so-did-GreenIvory.html.
And if you are on your way to Las Vegas for IOD, shoot me an e-mail.
I am literally exhausted but I wanted to drop a quick note about the Ignite Casablanca. Great. Wonderful. Fantastic energy. First Ignite in Africa, Morocco and the Arab world. I was pretty proud to be part of History. Thank you Salah for setting up all this.
And, of course, Casablanca is not only a brand of beer, not only a black and white movie, it is also a very dynamic city with a lot of IT and Web projects.
I love it.
This was fun… Snow everywhere, domination of white over anything (first degree only please). We finally managed to get to the IBM Palisades conference center. The last mile was pretty long.
Located just 12 miles from the George Washington Bridge, 20 minutes from Westchester County and within 30 miles of five airports: Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark, Teterboro and Westchester, the IBM Palisades provides an exceptional backdrop for meetings.
At least, here, you are not tempted by Poker tables, slot machines… I just wished I had more time to go in the surrounding forest. Wonderful landscape under the snow.