In 2004, Anne-Marie de Couvreur left the communications directorate of France Telecom to set up her own company in Toulouse, with two former Sud Radio employees.
Their concept was brand new: they offered to set up and run radio stations for their clients, who are either major corporations or public authorities, thereby providing a means of communication with their employees or external audiences. This new type of business involved "one-third communications staff, one-third radio people - freelance journalists, contract staff, and one-third engineers specialising in new technologies... When I initially began presenting my idea to my first prospects, they were a little surprised!" remembers Anne-Marie de Couvreur, now head of Mediameeting, Europe's leading corporate radio operator. Clients, some of them CAC 40 groups, were quick to come on board: the SME now has a total of 4 million listeners in 70 countries, and broadcasts programmes in more than ten languages.
"In 2004, we needed a financial partner with an open mind and an innovative approach. At Courtois bank, a member of the Crédit du Nord network, we found an advisor who really tried to understand our business.
We were fortunate to find bankers with business acumen: we took risks, but they took some too, granting us overdraft facilities and our first loans... They were a venerable banking establishment and we were a start-up, but in actual fact we found that we had a great deal in common!" says Anne-Marie de Couvreur, with a smile on her face. "We speak on the phone almost every day and have a trusting, straightforward relationship.”
A little communication here and there is definitely necessary to keep up with the start-up's frenetic rate of growth – 30% to 100% per year – and support its constant investment efforts, particularly in terms of technology, to remain a leader on the European market. Especially since Mediameeting fosters other ambitions. It intends to accelerate the deployment of its company radio offering with an extremely original business model in B2B communication. To do so, it plans to develop its social science and technological research divisions, and further strengthen its production and training departments.
The start-up's financial situation – out of the red and firmly into the black in 2011 – is just reward for this dual entrepreneurial gamble.
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