In this interview Olivier Courtin and Vincent Picavet, founders of geospatial service provider Oslandia, share with us their business story, some advice and how free and open source geospatial software plays a major role in their company. Enjoy the interview!
F4S: Please, give us a brief introduction about your company Oslandia.
Oslandia: Oslandia is a young company created by Olivier Courtin and myself (Vincent Picavet). We focus on OpenSource GIS, that is Geographical Information Systems. Everything related to software dealing with geo-located information, and mainly Spatial databases (namely PostGIS).
F4S: When and why was Oslandia founded? Where is it located?
Oslandia: Oslandia was founded in 2009. I met Olivier at a conference, and we were both on our way of starting a PostGIS activity independently. We decided to work together and Oslandia was born. We currently work in Paris and Lyon in France, but have clients all over France, Europe and the world.
F4S: What is your business model and what open source software helps you support it?
Oslandia: Our business model is a classic service provider model. We offer the whole range of services around free software : consulting, custom development, training, assistance and support. We are specialized in GIS software, and we particularly work with C/C++/Python technologies. The main OSS we use are PostGIS, Mapserver, TinyOWS, Quantum GIS, Mapnik.
F4S: How many clients do you have? Can you mention some of them?
Oslandia: We have more than 50 clients, with a mix of public and private organizations. We work for EDF (french electricity company), a big subsidiary of La Poste, Mappy, RFF (french train network), Veolia as for key accounts, and a lot of small innovative companies.
F4S: Are you self-funded or did Oslandia get started with venture capital?
Oslandia: Oslandia is 100% self-funded, and we intend to stay so.
F4S: How many employees does the company have?
Oslandia: We currently have 1 full-time employee. We work a lot with our network and freelances to respond to the high load we currently have, and we are in the process of recruiting at least 2 people early 2012.
F4S: What career opportunities are there in Oslandia?
Oslandia: We are looking for a geodata engineer and a c++ developer, but we are always interested in meeting smart people with high technical knowledge, especially with c/c++/python technologies. GIS can lead to very complex theoritical and practical problems, and strong scientific background is a big plus.
F4S: How will you describe Oslandia’s working environment?
Oslandia: It’s great ! We are a small company, hence very flexible. Our client’s domains are very diversified, so the projects we achieve are really different from each other. It’s intellectually motivating. GIS is also a booming field, and the perspectives are awesome.
F4S: Do you have industry partners?
Oslandia: We have very good regular clients, and besides, we are commited to a R&D project with Quelleville and the IGN. This will be focused on 3D in GIS, especially for urban planning and city management.
F4S: What challenges have you faced been a business based on open source software?
Oslandia: The french market is quite mature related to open source, and we did a good job on being identified, so we do not have to re-explain all the FLOSS philosophy and business model every time. That’s a good thing.
Our current challenge is finding good engineers who are very technical, know opensource and its ecosystem, and still be able to work in a business environment.
F4S: What advice could you give to someone who is thinking about starting a business using scientific open source software?
Oslandia: Starting a software company is cheap. Be sure to have at least a few clients from the start in order to cover your expenses (salaries) and here you go. Be prepared to work hard though, as there is a lot to get on tracks at the beginning. Use your network and build your identity soon, and you should be able to start a business without problem.
F4S: Which projects, blogs or sites related to open source software for science can you recommend?
Oslandia: We read a lot on opensource software and particularly FOSS4G (Free OpenSource Software for Geomatics).
F4S: Where people can contact you?
Oslandia: You can find information about the company and a technical blog on our site : http://www.oslandia.com
You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any subject related to Opensource GIS.
You can follow me on twitter : @vpicavet
F4S: Thank you for sharing with us more about Oslandia.
Oslandia: Thank you for letting us speak about what we do and like
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