Initially designed as a way to offer satellite connectivity to business passengers on high-speed trains, 21Net was never any less than visionary. Realising that the burgeoning popularity of tablets and smartphones was spawning huge new demand among rail passengers, 21Net decided to change track, a move that ultimately made it the leading provider of connectivity services on the railways. In a fiercely competitive environment, Innovacom supported 21Net throughout this decisive transitional phase.
21Net, designs and markets broadband communication systems for the rail industry.
Founded in 2004
Invested in 2011
Founders : Yann Chevalier, Jean-Marc Coïc, et Olivier Guillaumin.
Fundraising: successive rounds since 2011 totalling several million euros from non-institutional long-term investors
Fund : Innovacom6
Vincent Deltrieu (Innovacom): When we met 21Net in 2010, the company had a reliable satellite access technology that could provide coverage to high-speed trains. Given the explosive needs of transport operators, the key challenge was to boost the product range to make use of cellular technology, so that by juggling these two technologies we could bring down costs of ownership at an ultimate level. Such an ambition would require funds to build a technologically complex platform and support the first few customers as they migrated their solutions. The challenge for us was to walk the company through a radical transformation and offer decisive support through a complex marketing phase that meant dealing with customers – private operators and state companies – with wildly different motivations, analysis phases and decision-making cultures.
Philippe Catherine (CEO of 21Net): Innovacom is a team that is able to provide reliable long-term support. Since they bought in in 2010, the company has passed through multiple stages and they have always been able to support us through the good times and the not-so-good. They know how to take responsibility when circumstances demand and come up with solutions that suit the company’s situation. Their understanding of the technical and commercial issues meant we could act genuinely to create value for the long term. They were good too at building links and exploiting synergies with other partner companies. The idea behind was always to perfect our technologies and improve our business opportunities.
Since 2017, the company has been supplying its “TGV Connect” internet access technology to the French national railway’s high-speed trains – more than 300 of them, the biggest fleet of online connected trains in the world. The growth and development outlook for 21Net is very healthy against the background of the emerging Smart City, where passengers/citizens will demand non-stop access on the move at living-room speed. And this is not restricted to high-speed rail. The same demand is there on standard intercity and commuter trains as well as trams, buses and underground networks. This is true in all global markets where the company is already known and active (Europe, the USA and India).