The first French startup, today an international group
Avanquest Software’s story is part and parcel of the history of technology in France. When they founded this company in 1984 as BVRP, Bruno Vanryb and Roger Politis, both of them self-taught, never imagined that thirty years later it would become one of the leading French software publishers, present on every continent, from Paris to Shanghai by way of San Francisco.
Avanquest Software was one of the first technology companies to be established in France – what today we’d call a startup. Its first commercial successes were called Directory (personal file management software) and Compatest (computer compatibility testing software). We were at the dawn of the microcomputer age.
The turning point came in 1995. Avanquest Software, which at the time had annual sales of three million Euros, launched WinFax, which became a worldwide bestseller! In 1996 this success opened the way for an introduction into the Paris stock exchange and our first international office, in Denver, Colorado.
Avanquest Software takes off internationally
Since then, Avanquest Software has surpassed 100 million Euros in annual sales, with 80% of that achieved outside France. In turn, the Group opened offices in the United Kingdom (1998), China (2002), Germany (2003) and Italy (2005). In 2007 the Group strengthened its international positions by acquiring two major software players, Nova Development in the United States and Emme in Europe.
These various acquisitions, which were capped off in 2011 with the acquisition of MicroApp, the leading French consumer software publisher, have today enabled Avanquest, with its 530 employees at eight sites worldwide, to offer its 25 million customers an expanded portfolio of computer programs. Sold either by distributors or directly over the Internet and compatible with all existing technological platforms (Microsoft, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, etc.) – from mobility, to photo gallery managagement,, as well as architecture, infotainment, games and more – Avanquest Software has established itself as the third largest French consumer software publisher (source: Top 250 French software creators and publishers, Syntec Numérique – Ernst & Young, September 2012).
The shift towards online
Starting in 2008, Avanquest Software undertook a major transformation in order to keep pace with changes in the software market. As with the print press and music, software physical sales are declining. That is why the Group reorganized itself around three divisions, each representing a fast-growing online business:
• Softcity for downloadable software and applications, operating these e-commerce platforms: www.avanquest.com (translated into five languages), www.microapp.com and encore www.softcity.com; it is also developing mobile applications for photos and video (Photocards and Instacards).
• PlanetArt for “Web-to-print” services: its sites and services let consumers design announcements, greeting cards and invitations or print their photos in unique formats (Smartphone bodies or canvases).
• VCOM for SaaS and hosting services: its mission is to put the Group’s bestselling software into the Cloud.
These divisions today account for more than 40% of the Group’s global annual sales, which increased by threefold between 2008 and 2012. Our ambition is to double this and reach 80 million Euros in annual online sales by 2016.
Alongside these three divisions, Avanquest Software still has its five geographic product-distribution divisions, in France, North America, Great Britain, Italy and Germany.
Nearly 20% of sales are realized in BtoB activities, through its subsidiaries Avanquest Mobile Technologies and Process Flows.