"Provence is poised to become the Silicon Valley of France"

success story
Hervé Le Jouan, Privowny CEO
06 February 2020 / Big Data/Data Centers, Grow your business, invest in provence

Interview to Hervé Le Jouan, Founder-CEO of Privowny

In 2010, after studying artificial intelligence and pursuing a storied career in data management, Hervé Le Jouan, an entrepreneur at heart, began waging a battle to protect the data of internet users. Well before the adoption of the GDPR in 2017, this visionary founded Privowny Inc. in Palo Alto, California. The digital services firm landed on the French market in Paris in 2013. In 2017, Privowny France moved its headquarters to Aix-en-Provence after signing a strategic partnership with a Fortune 500 insurance group from the United States that offered it access to nearly 400 million consumers.

Today, Hervé Le Jouan is pleased to have relocated his business to Provence. His team of 32 employees and 15 subcontractors is expected to double again in the next three years.  Supported by Provence Promotion, the company will be awarded the "Invest in Provence" seal at MWC Barcelona at the end of February.

What services does Privowny France offer and what are your business goals?     

Internet users want to take back control of their data and their online privacy, but often they do not know how or where to start. With Privowny App, we believe they will finally find what they have searched for in vain until now. The app is now finished and we will begin marketing it as a white label service in 2020 via telecommunications operators, banks and insurance companies. We also offer a beta version that the general public can test.

Privowny App enables users to securely store log-in information for all their accounts. They no longer need to remember myriad passwords: the data are encrypted with a secret key. The app creates unique email addresses so that the user's personal email address is never compromised. Emails are received in total transparency in the user's regular email box. And there is a powerful search function that allows users to check at any time to see what each company knows about them (last name, first name, address, telephone number, etc.).

You left Paris in 2017 to set up shop in Provence. How has the move benefited the company?

I was pleasantly surprised by the dynamic in the Aix Les Milles area. It is a business hub that has grown exponentially, while preserving its utterly charming setting. People come from all over France, starting with Paris. We are really stimulated by the energy and the buzz. Plus, the ITER project at the CEA attracts engineers from the whole world, which allows us to leverage the knowledge of international universities in addition to the Aix-Marseille campus which draws a lot of students.

Privowny France is growing. We expanded from five to 32 employees and 15 subcontractors in 18 months, plus we plan to hire 50 additional employees in the next three years. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the region is a hotbed of engineers. Some of my employees would not return to Paris for anything in the world. Provence is poised to become the Silicon Valley of France because it has tremendous potential and offers an extraordinary quality of life.

For those of us who travel a lot, the proximity of the airport and the TGV train station is really convenient. Marseille-Provence is a user-friendly airport. My travel now is calmer and more straightforward. When I go to the United States, I simply change planes in Paris.  

How did you learn about Provence Promotion and how did they help you?

I met the Provence Promotion team in the plane on my way to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where we will soon meet again. The agency's biggest strength is its access to the local ecosystem. Thanks to Provence Promotion, we joined the global competitiveness cluster for Secured Communicating Solutions (SCS). We received assistance with human resources and financing projects and we are very proud to receive the "Invest in Provence" seal in recognition of our investment in the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolitan area.