Is it so difficult to innovate in services?

Interview with Pierre Guirard

“In order to have permanent innovation, there is a need for permanent revolution, or at least, an ongoing effort!”

WYZ has finally obtained market recognition for its disruptive and innovative business models for services.

WYZ News: It seems as if for consumers and investors alike, technological innovation is easier to achieve than innovation in services. Was this perception a handicap for WYZ?

Pierre Guirard: Yes, when WYZ was started, we faced a lot of skepticism. The most difficult thing for us was to stick to our belief that we were bringing real added-value to services, with the supply of tyres via a website. This was the core of our economic models. But we needed institutions to validate them.

WN: Were you convinced it would actually happen?
PG: Yes! The main reason for this optimism and belief that recognition would one day come was the structure of our business models. I don't mean to overestimate the quality of what we had to offer, but we really believed that it met our clients' needs, while relying on the expertise and the reactiveness of our suppliers (professional tyre networks, national or international retailers).

WN: You were finally proven right...
PG: Our first breakthrough came with the HES Mercure des Entrepreneurs award prize that WYZ received in January 2010 for innovation in services to car fleets. Beyond winning, we were really pleased to get recognition from the business community and, indirectly, from HEC. We felt really gratified. This recognition encouraged us to keep going with innovation. Then, in 2012, the Compiègne region - where our company is located - invited us to join its Technological Park, which is an incubator. There, we rubbed shoulders with many people, including people from Compiègne Technological University. These guys, who were all engineers, had started companies and were innovating every day. We found that this innovative environment was a great source of inspiration for us, through organized meetings or spontaneous conversations with other innovators.We had a great time, but we were still missing recognition from the local business community for our differentiation, since we were active in the services sector.

WN: But this didn't discourage you, right?
PG: Not at all! Especially because we got another break. The BPI (Banque Publique d’Investissement, French Public Investment Bank) suggested that we join a group of 3000 start-ups bearing its Excellence label. The Bank focuses on supporting small companies (in particular those with high growth potential). For us, it meant that finally, our disruptive business model was recognized and considered legitimate.

WN: Was it indeed the recognition for innovation in services you had been looking for all these months?
PG: Yes, BPI's active support is the living proof that innovation can be tied to what a company pitches. Beyond the content of our business proposition, BPI also recognized the fact that, directly or indirectly, we had created around 15 new jobs since the company start.

WN: What have you learned from your experience?
PG: In order to have permanent innovation, there is a need for permanent revolution, or at least, an ongoing effort! The Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement tells us a few things, like: “Do it better, make it better, improve it even if it isn't broken, because if we don't, we can't compete with those who do” and “Better than yesterday, not as good as tomorrow.” We are focused on our quest for excellence through permanent innovation. And our main motivation is our clients' satisfaction.