From EPITA to Viva Technology: the fascinating story of the Crowlingo start-up
If you attended the 2022 edition of Viva Technology, the major technology conference held in Paris last June, you probably came across Crowlingo. Located at the Orange booth, this start-up specialized in real-time multi-language monitoring is the brainchild of Jonas Bouaziz (CTO), Arnaud Henric (CEO) and Jérémie Zimmer (CSA), three engineers from the EPITA class of 2020.
Jonas and Arnaud at the Crowlingo booth at Viva Technology
Crowlingo, an adventure started on the EPITA Paris campus
Launching an entrepreneurial project during your studies is possible, and Arnaud, Jonas and Jérémie are living proof, as the trio started the adventure of what would later become Crowlingo at EPITA. Previously called Neutral News and focused on the idea of tackling fake news by using artificial intelligence to verify their authenticity, the project even won 3rd place in the prestigious Microsoft Imagine Cup 2018 competition before establishing a partnership with the Quai d’Orsay to centralize and analyze the flow of articles published by several thousand digital sources around the world in real time. Then, assisted by the EPITA StartUp Lab, the project evolved, changing its name and more particularly, its positioning.
Today, Crowlingo provides its own natural language processing (NLP) technology. Based on deep learning, it allows customers to find information and relationships in text in real time, in over 100 different languages. An automatic monitoring solution that offers professionals and institutions the possibility of having information available on numerous data feeds. The company has attracted a number of well-known entities: in addition to Orange and the Quai d’Orsay, it works with the RTBF, the French Ministry of Overseas territories and the LVMH group. Currently incubated at Station F, Crowlingo continues to grow, as Arnaud Henric and Jonas Bouaziz explained at Viva Technology.
Where is Crowlingo today?
Arnaud Henric: We are still at Station F, in the Orange and LVMH programs, and everything is going very well. We are continuing to develop and are now looking to recruit!
What do these programs bring to a start-up like yours?
AH: The LVMH program has given us the remarkable opportunity to meet the group’s “75 houses”, which allows us to be in constant contact with brands like Dior, Moët Hennessy, etc. It is a very interesting partnership for our business development. As for the Orange program, it’s more of a support concept – it’s also how we were able to be a part of Viva Technology this year. It allows us to review our strategy, and benefit from a great deal of advice… It’s also very useful!
How would you sum up Crowlingo’s activity?
AH: We offer a monitoring solution that analyzes the entire web, in general – i.e., social networks, from LinkedIn to Facebook, including Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and even TikTok, but also online press sites, forums, etc. – to extract “insights” on a company, a market, a product, etc. An “insight” can concern reputation, trends, influencers, etc. And what makes Crowlingo unique is that we work in over 100 different languages, all in real time and without any translation or human interaction!
If I were a clothing brand, would I be able to know both what is being said about me on the net in real time and also monitor the opinions of the competition as well as potential future trends that will affect my sector?
AH: Yes! And if you were a clothing brand, you would also potentially want to know if an influencer is wearing one of your garments or if other influencers are talking about you positively or negatively. Crowlingo allows you to get a clear picture of your brand’s global reputation and how it is perceived around the world.
What is the status of your technology?
AH: For one or two years, we only worked on NLP to ensure that our technology was reliable and that we could create models that automatically function in more than 100 languages to detect positive feelings as well as hate speech. For example, we created a model for one of our partners that is capable of detecting negative feedback from its customers so that it could then intervene, if necessary.Jonas Bouaziz: Lately, we have also worked a lot on analyzing new feeds that are rarely used in this type of monitoring today, such as TikTok or LinkedIn. We are now able to analyze them in their entirety in order to extract important insights.
All of this collected data must be analyzed afterwards. Is this part of the service you offer?
AH: Ofcourse! We have developed a platform that shows clients a complete dashboard of the subjects they wish to monitor. Everything on the dashboard may be filtered, allowing clients to only select positive, negative comments, etc.
Why is it important for you to be able to handle so many languages?
AH: Most companies focus on the most common languages because current solutions often have trouble understanding the complexity of local languages, leaving out a lot of important data for their business. For a company like Orange, which is present in 26 countries, Crowlingo represents a great opportunity because we allow them to detect trends and comments around the world much more easily.
You were speaking earlier about your desire to recruit…
AH: We are in the middle of a recruitment phase! Until now, it’s just been the three of us – Jonaz, Jérémie and me. Soon, we’ll have two interns joining us, as well as business contributors
In addition to companies, you also have institutions and media as clients. What do you offer them?
AH: With the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, we essentially monitor subjects that can impact France, for example, the reputation of the country and the French abroad. For the Ministry of Overseas Territories, it allows us to review the press in the overseas territories in real time.JB: As far asthe media is concerned, we were already working with RTBF and La Nouvelle République. We are also quite close to Le Parisien. Our tool has many functions. For example, in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, we are able to analyze the press and points of view of the local populations.
Why is it interesting for a start-up like Crowlingo to take part in Viva Technology?
AH: This is a great opportunity, and we are very grateful to the Orange Group for allowing us to participate. At our booth, we were able to meet many people interested in using our product.
Finally, as you have helped create a solution capable of analyzing so many languages, do you speak new languages as well?
JB : For the time being, we prefer to let our solution work for us! (laughs)