Virginie Ducable (EDHEC, Master 2008), NEUROO co-founder

Published on 03/06/2020
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Tell us about yourself.

Virginie Ducable, 36 years old. La Réunion is my adoptive home but my heart belongs to Normandy!

I graduated from EDHEC in 2008, having majored in Entrepreneurship. After some time with Lexus Europe in Brussels for my final-year internship, I settled in the sunshine of La Réunion where I held positions as Key Account Manager (Colgate Palmolive) and later Brand Manager for West Africa (Philip Morris International). In early 2018 I returned to metropolitan France and the chill of my home region, where I decided to give fresh impetus to my career. I joined the CESI engineering school in April 2019 to do a master’s specialized in project management. By alternating between my studies and work, I had the opportunity to join REDLab, a young digital services company from Normandy where my curiosity for new technologies and innovation was awakened, so much so that one year later I’m a passionate convert!

Tell us briefly how your project came about.

The NEUROO innovation project came about from a desire within the team to launch our first product, whereas up to then we had been working as a digital services firm. After a great amount of brainstorming, we pursued the idea of an applications platform based on the recognition capabilities of artificial intelligence, a technology we have already been working on for more than a year.

Describe your business for us.

NEUROO is a platform of solutions based on artificial intelligence. Its first applications are designed to support businesses and local authorities in the way they manage the post-lockdown period. Based on an approach of solidarity and so we can contribute in our own way to the nationwide recovery effort, we are providing local authorities in Normandy with free access to an application that will enable them to detect people not wearing masks in zones with high population density for both statistical (GDPR compliant – anonymity respected) and educational purposes. Other developments linked to the recovery are ongoing: measuring social distancing, automated access management, etc. The aim of NEUROO is to address the many opportunities linked to the recognition and analytical capabilities of artificial intelligence: managing in-store customer journeys, recognising at-risk situations, predictive analysis, etc.

The only limit to the possible applications and uses is our imagination! NEUROO can potentially target all sectors: surveillance comes to mind first, but also supermarkets, healthcare, etc. There are currently 6 of us working on the project and our ambition is to recruit data scientists or developers in the short/medium term to develop new applications. We emphasise that our business boasts innovation that is 100% from Normandy and therefore 100% French, a commercial argument that we feel is critical in a digital environment in which national sovereignty is a key concern. Maintaining local expertise in the technological sectors of today, and especially of the future, is an essential part of this project.

What is your initial assessment of this entrepreneurial adventure?

Since the beginning of the lockdown, we have been working together on the development of applications, as well as soliciting new clients and communicating about our product. It has been a very enriching human and technological adventure, and the initial results are very promising, especially in the Normandy region, to which we are all closely attached. As co-founder and CMO of NEUROO, I am particularly in charge of the project’s sales and marketing aspects, but the endeavour really involves the whole team. Helping each other out and solidarity are essential values. In such uncertain times, but with many opportunities, it is important for us to maintain that mindset. That’s also why, to contribute to the collective recovery effort, we were intent on adopting a solidarity-based approach by making our solution available to the local authorities in Normandy free of charge.

The product was launched recently, and feedback from clients has been very favourable: each bit of good news gives us a great sense of pride as a team, just as each bit of “bad” news drives us on and encourages us to excel. 

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Never stop believing in your dream. I like to quote Winston Churchill, who said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” We all often face doubt, but you should never lose heart. We should be happy to be able to learn something new every day from the wonderful adventure of entrepreneurship.

What’s next for your business?

We are still at the beginning of the NEUROO adventure. After the initial roll-out of our solution, we are already thinking about future developments. NEUROO was never intended only as an application that could detect people not wearing masks, but it has enabled us to demonstrate our expertise with the technical recognition capabilities of AI. We are working together on social distancing and on the study of behaviours that point to wonderful new uses (user protection and safety, analysing consumer journeys, etc.). Our ambition over time is to be able to address all 5 senses. We started with sight, but we want to go even further and above all work seamlessly within the legal framework.

Do you have expectations from the community of Alumni?

The EDHEC network is a wonderful source of encounters and opportunities: I would love to be able to discuss the NEUROO project, whether out of curiosity or for a more tangible application, benefit from the experience of other entrepreneurs and of course generate visibility for a project I’m extremely proud to participate in as an EDHEC graduate.

Career change? Moving house?