For some, the health crisis is not necessarily synonymous with an economic crisis. Especially if the product concerned meets a need accentuated by the epidemic. “The isolation of the elderly did not wait for the Covid-19 to exist, but it is obvious that it was amplified by the confinement, the social distancing”, assures Jiri Kosla, one of the two co-founders of As We share, the company behind the creation of Familink, a connected framework, more particularly intended for seniors, capable of receiving photos or small messages from a distance. The system even works without a Wi-Fi connection, thanks to an integrated SIM card that only requires a subscription of 3.90 euros per month.
In 2020, the company based in Bois-Guillaume (Seine-Maritime), on the heights of Rouen, doubled its sales, selling just over 10,000 units over the year, especially during the Christmas period, with two models at 149 and 199 euros. “But we felt that something was already happening in February with visits that were starting to be banned in nursing homes. We received the first messages from people telling us that this setting was becoming the only link with some of their relatives. And between March and April, we quadrupled our sales compared to 2019 ”, remembers Alexis Le Goff, who was the first to have the idea of this digital framework through which the whole family can send photos taken daily with a simple smartphone.
“Originally, I wanted to create something to keep in touch with my two grandmothers aged over 90 who were starting to suffer from the onset of Alzheimer’s,” explains the engineer who worked for Centrale Paris, where he met Jiri Kosla. So we needed something very simple where nothing had to be done to make it work. A bit like a lamp. In fact, that’s what is the most complicated … “
The power of word of mouth
Developed from 2016, the first Familink frame was launched at the end of 2017 without much communication. “We didn’t really have the means to do it and ultimately it was word of mouth that worked well. “Slowly, sales took off in 2018 and the feedback from users and their families encouraged the two in their thirties to continue the adventure. The same year, Carsat Normandie tested the device with around a hundred retirees and conducted a satisfaction survey after a few months of use: “The figure to remember is that for 92% of those who use it, Familink is part of their daily life, ”analyzes Alexis Le Goff, happy to develop a product far from being a gadget.
So much so that the Germans from Deutsch Telecom, met at a trade fair in Berlin, have signed an exclusive partnership to distribute Familink across the Rhine. An international openness that gives the Norman company ideas: it now employs four people and already works with a handful of agents in Europe before tackling the American market in the coming months.