Through the first week of November 2022, the Web Summit, hosted in Lisbon, Portugal, brought together over 70,000 technology-focused attendees from across the globe. Perspectives on the opportunities and challenges facing business, innovation, and government were discussed.
Beyond speaking engagements, the Web Summit featured pitch competitions and afterparties, with one featuringDJsDavid Guetta and Armin Van Buren.
Benzinga attended and spoke with Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, CEO and co-founder of Arianee. Heres the conversation that transpired.
The following text was edited for clarity and concision.
Q: Hi there, nice to meet you. Care to start off with an introduction?
Hurstel: Everything is about links. The link in my career has always been fashion and luxury. I worked for this industry in different capacities. First as a consultant, then building large-scale events like this one were at, specifically for the fashion and luxury industries and tech.
Tell me a little bit more about Arianee.
In 2012, I met Frederic Montagnon, and we became friends. He's an entrepreneur and engineer with several exits. In 2017, he started talking about this new idea of transforming relationships between communities and brands using tokens. He asked me to become an advisor, and we joined forces to create Arianee in 2018. Montagnon is the chairman and I am the CEO.
You left New York, right?
I moved back to France to accelerate the launch of Arianee. Thats because our go-to-market is fashion and luxury. The main centers of decision for these industries are Paris, Geneva, Milan, and London. It made more sense to be closer to these big luxury houses in Europe.
Can you talk to me a bit more about your business model, as well as the problems youre solving and how you make money?
We solve the problem of the digital relationship.
Today, if you want to be in touch with someone, it's easier to gather personal data about this person, process this data, and try to comply with regulations. Or, you have them follow you on centralized platforms.
This latter example is called third-party data. The first example when you collect data about people is first-party data. Both don't work.
Why dont they work?
First-party data is harder to protect and the regulation is more complicated. On the other end, third-party data is just having a couple of centralized platforms stealing money from everyone. Thanks to the emergence of blockchains, there is new data called zero-party data.
Whats zero-party data?
These tokens and NFTs, among other things, are a new foundation for people to interact online. It leaves users in control of what they do, and brands in direct connection with them.
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So, whats the problem youre solving?
We enable brands to generate and distribute tokens for meaningful use cases.
In utility use cases, the first one is the digital product passport. If I buy a product from a brand, and with the product comes an NFT that acts as a digital passport of the product, I will find in it all the information about the way the product has been made, as well as a hub for services that only I can access by proving that I'm the owner. I can repair, be part of the membership, and I can resell. That's the digital product passport.
The second use case we enable for brands is a new kind of loyalty program. When you get the membership NFT, not only do you get advantages from the brand, but you're also recognized everywhere else by connecting your wallet and showing your NFT.
There is a third use case around digital assets, profile pictures, filters, and, tomorrow, wearables for metaverse avatars that brands can also activate.
So, whats the value proposition, then?
The heart of our value proposition is to help brands generate NFTs at scale for one of these three use cases, or a combination of them, and distribute them to their users, even if they are not Web3 native, and don't have a wallet. We equip them to engage with that community.
How big is the Arianee team?
55 people. We've raised a Series A this year, too, with Tiger Global participating. We have 50 clients, among them some of the best luxury companies in the world. We work with Richemont Group, with Breitling, Audemars Piguet, L'Oral, Yves Sait Laurent (YSL), Moncler.
How did you form relationships with those brands?
Well, that was part of the play of coming back here. We have an unfair advantage of being in a segment of the market where pretty much everything happens. So, thanks to our background, the seniority of the team, the innovation of the platform, and our capability to access top-level talent, we've been able to unlock these partnerships at a young age.
You could, theoretically, apply this idea to other markets, correct?
Absolutely. There are two reasons why this is really a go-to market for us.
One, because in luxury, the notions of scarcity and ownership are at the heart of the business model. Having a digital extension that replicates the core elements of the business makes sense.
Then there's another good reason, which is regulation. The EUs digital products passport will become mandatory for every textile product in Europe within two years. Any brand that wants to sell a fashion good or textile in Europe will have to have a digital passport.
We are going to surf on these two elements to build the foundations of our business. And then, we can move on to cars, appliances, wine, and spirits. Any good or service.
If theres any kind of membership or experience say a ticket to a concert, your dress size, your personal data, your address you can put all of that in tokens, and save them in your wallet. Just connect that whenever you want to accept, give and share this information.
Are there competitors who may be working on similar ideas?
So, every day I see a post or something about the physical and digital or phigital.
Through open-source protocols, we have created guarantees to all our clients that they are not dependent on us. We can disappear tomorrow, and they can continue to run their business. On top of that, the range of solutions we've been able to build, since the beginning of the company, with the level of capital and talents we've been able to gather, makes us stronger to interact with large corporations. Many others have good ideas and small pieces of tech that are not fit for the demands of enterprises.
Looking into the future, where do you see yourselves heading?
So growing fast and building the best product on the market. We have main objectivesto add.
We're building a culture. As we grow fast and hire, we want to maintain good values inside the company. Ethics, respect for people and users, diversity, and inclusion. All of that is embedded in the core of how we choose people and onboard them.
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