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TECHCRUNCH

French startup Akeneo just raised a $13 million Series B round led by Partech Ventures, with existing investor Alven Capital also participating. Akeneo is a product information management (PIM) service to manage all information about your products in your stores, online and in your good-old paper catalogs.

At heart Akeneo is an open source PIM application — 40,000 people downloaded Akeneo so far. Everybody can grab it for free and implement it for their own company. You feed it data from Excel spreadsheets or your ERP, then you can manage and enrich this data in Akeneo. Finally, all this data remains accurate across all your communication channels — your website, your stores, your catalog or anything really.

This way, you can collaborate on the same catalog of products and reuse this information everywhere. In addition to the open source backbone, Akeneo has built an enterprise version for premium clients. It has additional features and support.

“Since 2014, we have worked with a little bit more than 120 clients around the world,” co-founder and CEO Frédéric de Gombert told me. Clients include distribution groups like Auchan, Cora, Leclerc and Carrefour, clothing companies like Pimkie or Adidas, big companies like Samsung and many more.

Before Akeneo, many of those companies were working with big IT giants like SAP to implement cumbersome catalog management software. Moving to Akeneo is the equivalent of moving to a modern CRM, but for your products.

On average, those 120 clients pay around $37,600 per year (€35,000). Most clients still run Akeneo on their own servers, but the company just launched a cloud-hosted version so you don’t have to manage anything, not even the infrastructure.

And so far, nobody has looked back — it’s quite hard to switch from one PIM solution to another, so Akeneo doesn’t have any churn issue. The company now has 70 employees — most of them are in Nantes, but the company also has two tiny offices in Germany and Boston.

“The PIM market is like the CRM market, but 15 years behind. Every company — it could be a brand or a distributor — has two important assets: their clients and their products,” Frédéric de Gombert said. “Little by little, people are realizing that you need to build a great product experience if you want to build a great customer experience. And it’s true for everybody.”

According to Frédéric de Gombert, PIM services could become as big as the biggest CRM solutions. So let’s see if Akeneo is building the Salesforce of products.