WMaker
Viveris Management
xFruits
CampusPlex

Corsican Startups are Napoleon Dynamite

Next Story

The Motorola Droid 2 Gets Released And Ripped Apart In The Same Day

Like New Hope, Pennsylvania, Corsica is most definitely not the first place that comes to mind when we talk about tech and innovation. For the geographically challenged, I should clarify that we’re talking about that island off the southern coast of France. You know, where Napoleon comes from – or more recently where Alicia Keyes got married (wow, never thought I’d put these two characters in the same sentence). It may be void of both Starbucks and McDonalds – but definitely not startups.

So essentially I’ve been on a quest to expose the tech/startup activity in Corsica for a while now and oddly enough, the opportunity came at a time that is usually less active for French companies. Then again, when you work in Corscia, I guess you don’t really need to take a vacation.

The Île de Beauté or Island of Beauty has a population of roughly 300,000 with only one university for roughly 4,000 students. Translation: if you decide to stick around to study something like engineering, there’s a good chance you’ll have no more than 10-20 people max in your graduating class. Yet, even though a fair share of the local population tends to head to Paris or larger French cities when it comes to higher education, some startups – like DuoApps – are actually 100% home-grown.

Founded in 2009, DuoApps specializes in smartphone application development. The company, who now boasts big-name French clients like Marianne and M6, is a spin-off of a school project that started 2 years ago when one of the co-founders – Dominique Siacci – was just 19. Along with his now 24-year-old co-founder, Francescu Santoni, the 5-person team has created some killer applications – including my personal favorite Parlu Corsu, an iPhone application for learning the local Corsican language. The startup was also behind the first ever iPhone app in Corsican, iPiatzetta.

DuoApps is also behind the mobile apps platform of another Corsican startup, WMaker. This platform generates iPhone, iPad and Android applications for content published using WMaker’s content management system. Unlike lowcost Appmakr or highly customizable Mobile Roadie, this solution aims at providing standard, BBC-inspired mobile applications more for editorial content distribution than multimedia. While the iPhone is by far the most popular application, all 3 apps (iPhone, Android and iPad) go for a one-time fee of €990.

And if DuoApps and WMaker have a well-integrated product, it’s definitely not by accident; the 2 companies, along with iSpirit (who develops Mapize), work closely together in the Ajaccio-based CampusPlex. This incubator-style startup space (somewhat similar to La Cantine in Paris) was created in November of 2009 by WMaker founder, Sébastien Simoni, and has grown to roughly 20 people in less than a year. It’s definitely worth checking out if you ever happen to be in Ajaccio. FYI, monthly workspace is roughly €250 per person.

Aside from the CMS and mobile app generation platforms, WMaker’s 12-person team has also developed a web TV solution and an RSS mashup platform, xFruits. The DIY-flavored, modular, drag-and-drop video platform has been used by companies like Ebusiness.info to diffuse video content. As for xFruits, the platform is currently available in 5 languages – which is perhaps why 1/3 of users are based in the US. Founded back in 2001, WMaker may be the oldest company of the CampusPlex bunch but its aiming to launch a new version of its TV and mobile apps solutions that would be WordPress compatible sometime next year.

The third and final company in CampusPlex, iSpirit, didn’t shy away from mixing in a bit of WMaker’s CMS into the back-end of its social mapping platform either. And I’m not gonna lie, that corporate website looks awfully familiar as well. In June, the company launched a free social mapping mashup in beta that allows users and businesses to easily map just about whatever social data they want. So if you’re wondering what all your Twitter followers would look like on a map (potentially à la Tweemap), Mapize’s platform imports the available data from Twitter and displays it via Google Earth. The startup plans to introduce a Freemium business model to the new platform later this year. The company’s solution has already gone international; for example, Darwin, Australia, uses the company’s solution to map its city bus schedule. And just for fun, check out this map of the Forbes ranking of the richest people in the world. I guess it goes without saying that, Mapize founder, François Xavier Cardi, is also a huge Foursquare fan.

But Corsica’s startup scene is not just limited to the Ajaccio CampusPlex bunch either. For example, the northern city of Bastia also boasts some pretty damn cool start-ups, like iMusic-School – which offers online video music lessons with well-known musicians – and a platform that facilitates extramarital affairs (aka a Gleeden competitor), Infidelia.com. But more to come on these later.

Contrary to Parisian startups, Corsican startups definitely rely more on self-funding and State funding organizations, like OSEO. Naturally, it’s easier to get regional State funding/grants when there’s little to no competition but Corsica’s geographical aspects seem to be less VC-friendly. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to pin-down any Corsica-based business angels or VC funds, although iMusic-School did mention that they had been able to secure funding with Paris-based Seventure in May (FYI the CEO is based on the continent, near Nice). But there is money to be had: Marseille-based Viveris Management has a 37 million euro fund that is to be invested only in Corsican companies. Roughly 10 million of it has been invested in 8 projects since 2008 (primarily solar and sustainable development) despite whatever geographical limitations may scare investors away.

So all in all, it’s pretty damn cool to see this small island turning out entrepreneurs. To all those Corsicans who left to go study and work elsewhere, don’t think that there aren’t possibilities back at home. Heck, if Bonaparte were around today, I’m pretty sure he would have a startup too. I’ll take this opportunity to wish the most famous Corsican a happy bday – his legacy turns 241 this Sunday.

  • http://www.blogle.org/2010/08/corsican-startups-are-napoleon-dynamite/ Corsican Startups are Napoleon Dynamite | Blogle.org

    […] on eu.techcrunch.com This entry was posted in English, Technology and tagged alicia keyes, application, corsican […]

  • http://virteal.com BaronMariani

    Besides Napoleon, Corsica also exported (to some extend):

    “Modern Democracy” (thru the 1st modern “constitution”, at least some 40 years before the french revolution),

    “America”, according to the vivid “legend” about Christophe Colomb’s house in Calvi (Corsica was under Genovese control back then) and

    “the whole civilisation of europe” back in prehistoric times according to an even more controversial thesis from J. Stromboni about the Corsican being the original sumerians

    Something tells me that this small nation will surprise the startup world (paraphrasing «J’ai le pressentiment qu’un jour cette petite île étonnera l’Europe», by Jean Jacques Rousseau in his «Projet de Constitution pour la Corse»)

    • Manu

      Although it is not a nation as it is part of France.

      • morn

        If you’re really interested on connecting your feeds automatically on all of your social-networking accounts (120+) You can do this automatically via Ping.fm and twitterfeed. http://bit.ly/97B9Hl

  • http://thefrenchabc.com skel

    THat’s la Corse for you!

  • Hadrien

    Nice! I come from Corsica and i would never have thought they had even 1 innovative web startup.

    Congrats to all of these guys to get positive coverage on TechCrunch.

    • Snitzelglobin in liederhozen

      This story was so creatively written, for a 12 year old girl. But she only just deserves a passing grade. People in Corsica don’t need vacations, so funny, her parents must be proud. But, it’s past her bed time, she has school early tomorrow. Let’s hope they study writing.

  • http://jfamadei.me Jean-François Amadei

    I’m one of these Corsican who left their islands for the mainland first and then Asia, doing exactly what these peeps are doing btw.

    Well I have some networking to do next time I’m back

    Thx to Techcrunch to feature our tiny island on their blog :)

  • http://www.bluenove.com bluenove

    Thanks for your visit and this great article Roxanne !
    @ Prestu
    Martin

  • Rene

    App makers are popping up all over the place! I’m familiar with appmaker but never heard of duo apps. Anyone heard of Mobtify?

  • http://www.reverselookphone.com Reverse phone Trace

    Nepoleon and Alicia Keyes… Great contast !! that was realy good one

  • Vic

    Additionally, don’t forget who was at the origin of WordPress (b2/cafelog).

  • http://www.lebootcamp.com Valerie Orsoni

    Excellent article and very well written, too. I am not amazed that Corsicans can create startups that can change the world I am impressed that they decide to do in Corsica. I bet not that many Corsican expatriates like me even know about this. Thank you Roxanne for opening our eyes. I also very much like the fact that those guys don’t rely so much on VC funding…goes with the peasant culture (no pun intended I function like this, too :)

  • http://www.geodruid.com Romain Cherchi

    They also have their own Coca-Cola : Cosica Cola !

    • http://virteal.com BaronMariani

      Well… Could be that Coca Cola original recipe has some corsican roots actually.

      According to the french version of Wikipedia, the Pemberton’s “French Wine Coca” might have been “inspired” by the “Mariani Wine” for the corsican chemist angelo Mariani.

      I believe that the mayor of the city where this chemist was born once send a letter to coca cola about that but never received any response.

      Angelo Mariani is not mentioned in the english version of the wikipedia page but the english page about “Vin Mariani” mentions coca cola as beeing “evidently” inspired by it.

      So:

      – Europe civilisation thru corsica originated sumerians,

      – America’s discovery by a Calvi’s native,

      – Modern democracy and first modern constitution mid 18th century

      – French revolution “saved” from chaos by little general Bonaparte.

      and…

      – Coca cola, the most emblematic drink of the US supremacy.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vin_Mariani
      http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola

    • http://www.lebootcamp.com Valerie Orsoni

      and own “Petit Lu” :)

  • Zuz

    actually Corsica, although part of France, is off the northern coast of Italy

    • Ivan

      It is off the norther coast of Algiers too, off the eastern coast of Spain and possibly northeastern coast of of Morocco. Also, off the western coast of Croatia – twice removed …

  • Zuz

    exactly but the only meaningful ones are either off the coasts of Italy (north, east and south) or Spain (west) since there is only water between them and Corsica. Everything else is as valuable as your other examples: nil

  • http://www.bluenove.com bluenove

    I am bluenove founder and CEO and actually was born in Corsica and lived there 15 years before to travel the world afterwards. Supporting TechCrunch for this trip (check out #TechCrunchinCorsica on Twitter and http://bit.ly/dlQAJZ on our website) and organizing the meetings with these cool local startups has been for me a great experience and a genuine ‘Open Innovation’ approach. But I also felt i was truly contributing to develop innovation and a positive image for my beloved island: Corsica, and probably many other small islands, would definitely need more of these kind of initiatives > another big thank you to TechCrunch for this one! And would you have any question about Corsica exact location ;-), or need any extra information about ‘L’ile de Beaute’ (for business or pleasure) do not hesitate to contact me… I am still there now btw to enjoy few extra days by the beach before to head back to Paris. Told you, Corsica has it all !
    Best
    Martin
    CEO bluenove
    martin.duval@bluenove.com

  • http://www.bluenove.com bluenove

    I am bluenove founder and CEO and actually was born in Corsica and lived there 15 years before to travel the world afterwards. Supporting TechCrunch for this trip (check out #TechCrunchinCorsica on Twitter and http://bit.ly/dlQAJZ on our website) and organizing the meetings with these cool local startups has been for me a great experience and a genuine ‘Open Innovation’ approach. But I also felt i was truly contributing to develop innovation and a positive image for my beloved island: Corsica, and probably many other small islands, would definitely need more of these kind of initiatives. And would you have any question about Corsica exact location ;-), or need any extra information about ‘L’ile de Beaute’ (for business or pleasure) do not hesitate to contact me… I am still there now btw to enjoy few extra days by the beach before to head back to Paris. Told you, Corsica has it all !
    Best
    Martin
    CEO bluenove
    martin.duval@bluenove.com

  • http://www.gushici.net/2010/08/corsican-startups-are-napoleon-dynamite/ Home & Apartment Interior Design » Blog Archive » Corsican Startups are Napoleon Dynamite

    […] View full post on napoleon dynamite […]

  • http://www.arigayo.com/corsican-startups-are-napoleon-dynamite/ Corsican Startups are Napoleon Dynamite | Technology And Mobile Phone

    […] napoleon dynamite […]

  • http://yoniraveh.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/%d7%a2%d7%9c-%d7%aa%d7%a2%d7%a9%d7%99%d7%99%d7%94-%d7%92%d7%93%d7%95%d7%9c%d7%94-%d7%91%d7%9e%d7%a7%d7%95%d7%9d-%d7%a7%d7%98%d7%9f-douapps-%d7%91%d7%a7%d7%95% על תעשייה גדולה במקום קטן – DouApps בקורסיקה « פורטל תוכן ושיווק סלולרי

    […] in תוכן סלולרי. מסומן בתגים:DouApps, קורסיקה. להגיב כיצד גדלה חברת תוכן סלולרי מבטיחה כמו DouApps באי כל כך קטן שמעולם […]

  • http://www.technologybyday.com/corsican-startups-are-napoleon-dynamite/ Corsican Startups are Napoleon Dynamite | Technology By Day

    […] this article: Corsican Startups are Napoleon Dynamite This entry was posted in startups and tagged corsica, first-place, pennsylvania. Bookmark the […]

  • http://www.bluenove.com/nos-blogs/nos-blogs-blog-de-l-entreprise/un-ete-2010-tres-actif-pour-bluenove-bonne-rentree-a-tous/ Un été 2010 très actif pour bluenove: bonne rentrée à tous ! | bluenove Un été 2010 très actif pour bluenove: bonne rentrée à tous ! | opening innovation

    […] des start-ups locales: les deux articles suivants ont été produits (sur TechCrunch France et sur TechCrunch Europe) avec de fortes retombées pour les start-ups analysées: WMaker, DuoApps, Mapize et […]

  • http://www.bluenove.com/nos-blogs/nos-blogs-bluenove-dans-les-medias/visite-de-techcrunch-au-campus-plex-organisee-par-bluenove-le-12-aout-2010-a-ajaccio/ Visite de TechCrunch au Campus Plex organisée par bluenove le 12 août 2010 à Ajaccio | bluenove Visite de TechCrunch au Campus Plex organisée par bluenove le 12 août 2010 à Ajaccio | opening innovation

    […] vous ne connaissez pas de start-up corse ?  » sur TechCrunch France et son pendant sur TechCrunch Europe. Cette rencontre a été possible grâce à Martin Duval, un ajaccien qui s’est expatrié aux […]

  • http://yoniraveh.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/douapps/ על תעשייה גדולה במקום קטן – DouApps בקורסיקה | תוכן סלולרי ושיווק סלולרי

    […] גדלה חברת תוכן סלולרי מבטיחה כמו DouApps באי כל כך קטן שמעולם […]

  • http://mobilize.co.il/?p=138 על תעשייה גדולה במקום קטן – DouApps בקורסיקה « Mobilize

    […] גדלה חברת תוכן סלולרי מבטיחה כמו DouApps באי כל כך קטן שמעולם […]

  • http://www.rencontres-adulteres.org Contact

    Very interesting article / ressources, even one year later. Thx.

blog comments powered by Disqus