Stéphan Thien : "Winning the Startup Grand Prix really gave us a boost"
Tell us about your company: What line of business are you in? How long has your company existed?
Hippn’Go came about as the result of a personal experience. I am the father of several riders and when I bought my daughter a pony, the first problem was to bring it back to our stables. There was a limited choice of transport, with only two possible solutions: to use a transporter or hire a vehicle. Both of these options were really expensive!
I have been using Blablacar (a car-pooling service) for many years now so I was inspired by this concept. There are loads of people travelling around France with a free space in their truck!
The idea of creating a system like Blablacar for horses began around three years ago. It took some time to set up; the company has existed since the beginning of 2018. It took my partner and me a year to develop the app the way we wanted and it will be coming out by the end of May 2019. From the beginning of 2018, we have been introducing ourselves to the public at lots of events. That has enabled us to promote the app and collect registrations. 5,000 people have already registered.
My partner and I have been friends since childhood. He is in charge of development and management, and I focus on communication and customer relations.
There are now four of us working at Hippn’Go and soon there will be five!
You were an exhibitor at the Startup Village in 2018. Why did you choose to come to Equita Lyon?
Equita Lyon and ourselves go back a long way. I come from the Lyon area and I’ve been going to the exhibition with my family since I was 15. The idea for Hippn’Go came to me when I was sitting on a bench at the exhibition in 2017. So I went to see the Pôle Hippolia team at the Startup Village and explained my project to them. That’s where it all began. This exhibition is essential for the economy of the equestrian sector.
How was your week at Equita Lyon?
Like being in a washing machine (laughs)! I’ve been to lots of exhibitions in a professional capacity but at Equita Lyon the people are really impressive! The target market is very well selected and everyone pays close attention to what you are presenting. We talked at length to the visitors who came to meet us in the Startup Village and got a great deal out of these discussions! The public who come to Equita Lyon have really high standards! You can have a real conversation with them, they know what they’re talking about. I’ve met loads of people with whom I’ve had fascinating discussions! Our families came to help us and we were able to give the visitors lots of time. We’ll never forget that week at Equita Lyon!
What have you gained from the Startup Village? Has it had an impact on your development?
Being part of the Startup Village at Equita Lyon was, of course, extremely important for us. At first, we were afraid we wouldn’t find any conveyors who would be interested in our system. At Equita Lyon there were many vehicle owners who said they were interested but a lot of them were a bit worried about putting a horse they didn’t know into their vehicle. So now the offer includes insurance with assistance for the passenger horses. The driver is reassured and the whole idea was a direct result of Equita Lyon because it was meeting people and sharing experiences that made us go down that road.
You were named “Startup of 2018” by the professional jury and the public. What does that mean to you?
Winning the Startup Grand Prix really gave us a boost! For us the media attention was incredible. The combination of support from the Pôle Hippolia and winning the Startup Grand Prix really helped us to progress. Equita Lyon is essential for any professional who wants to be involved in the equestrian sector. It’s the high point of the year! It’s very encouraging to have the support of the public, our clients of the future, and professionals in the sector when you go in for a challenge like this.
What advice would you give to a young startup currently preparing to exhibit at the Startup Village?
Drink a lot of water (laughs)! It’s a long, tiring week, but you have to let yourself be carried along by it and just be honest with the public. For example, we haven’t actually invented anything! We’ve just adapted a system that already existed for private transport so that it could be used to transport horses.
You must be professional. If you are well prepared, talking with the carefully targeted, expert public at the Salon du Cheval de Lyon is an enriching experience!
You also be at Equita Lyon this year because you won a stand to participate in 2019. Have you planned anything special for your stand?
I hope we will have some good things to celebrate to continue the unique story of Hippn’Go and Equita Lyon!