Interview with Nicolas Dessaigne, the newest Artifakt board member
Artifakt keeps growing both as a product and as an organization. This time around, we are extremely proud to welcome Nicolas Dessaigne to our family as the newest board member.
Nicolas Dessaigne is the co-founder of Algolia and we recently sat down to discuss his career, what makes Artifakt unique, and his mission as the newest Artifakt board member.
Who is Nicolas Dessaigne? Give us some background information on your career so far.
Where should I start? I have a technical background. I have a master’s and Ph.D. in computer science, and I had the opportunity to work in engineering leadership roles for a couple of different companies, before founding my own company, Algolia. Algolia is a hosted search API for developers to create fast and relevant search-and-discovery features. I have been the CEO for Algolia up until 2020 when I hired my successor. I am now a visiting partner at Y Combinator where I can leverage my experience to help early-stage companies.
And how did you get to know Artifakt?
Many years back, while I was still the CEO for Algolia, we became partners with Dn’D, a big web agency. Aymeric (Aymeric Aitamer, Artifakt’s CEO) was the CTO for Dn’D back then. I remember the very first discussions Aymeric had with the other Artifakt founders about his idea. They didn’t ask for my opinion on the venture back then, but I remember they were trying to get some initial funds. That was around the end of 2017 if I remember correctly. After I hired my successor at Algolia, the opportunity opened up for me to pursue more projects. So, here I am!
So, you were practically there when the Artifakt journey started—amazing! Now, this naturally raises another question. Why Artifakt? After you hired your successor and you were free to engage in more projects, why did you choose Artifakt?
I think it’s a mix of who the founders are, the product, and the company culture. I mean, when you are making such a decision, there’s never one single reason. After leaving my role at Algolia, I wanted to give back to the startup community, but I also wanted to choose the people I work with. I remember that when we started the conversation about me joining the board, it was not an automatic yes. I wanted to make sure that Artifakt is the right fit for me and my goals and that I am the right person for Artifakt. I remember we had quite a few calls with Aymeric, going through company data, asking many questions about the company itself, the product, the culture, etc.
And we were indeed a great match. I wanted to make sure I could help Artifakt succeed and, so far, my professional experience has been a good fit. Artifakt is a developer tool that has the potential to reach a global audience. I know the developer aspect well but I also know the struggles of expanding a business outside of France and on a global scale. I hope that I’ll be able to bring a lot to Artifakt during this journey.
What you’re saying really ties in well with my next question. Artifakt is quite a unique product. You mentioned the developer factor. Developers are our end-users while the buyer is typically the decision-maker. This is quite a difficult challenge to overcome. How do we close this gap?
Yes, indeed. In the case of Artifakt we are working with three different personas: developers, buyers, and partners. This is quite a unique and challenging equation. Especially on the partners side. One of the first discussions I had with Aymeric was about the importance of partners and a solid partners program for Artifakt. Artifakt is a great product and has a lot to offer on a partner level.
Developers are our end-users and they need to be at the center of our attention because, at the end of the day, we build the product for them. But when it comes to pitching the product to the buyer, that is where it gets tricky. Developers are our champions but we need to reach out to the decision-makers as well. Partnerships are a great way to close this gap.
So, coming back to you and your new role as an Artifakt board member. What is your mission? What do you want to achieve in this role?
I would say my main goal is to support the company, the founder, and the wider team. I’ve already been through the upcoming phases of growth with Algolia and I’ve gone through the pains, the struggles, and the lonely existential questions that come with founding a company—I am no stranger to the impostor syndrome myself! I am confident that my experiences will be of use to Aymeric and the Artifakt team.
That’s not necessarily the description of the job, but I do think that it’s a big part of an independent board member with entrepreneurial experience. But part of my job is also to provide feedback on company functions, like sales and marketing. Based on my experience so far, I can provide some feedback on what can or cannot work, etc. As an outside observer with relevant experience, I can sometimes see when things are going in a bad or dangerous direction early on and alert the team. When you’re outside a situation, you often see things more clearly. And this is one of my key responsibilities as an independent board member. I am not anyone’s boss here—we are all members of the same team but with different roles and perspectives.
I have one last question for you. How do you see Artifakt evolving over the next couple of years or so? What does the future hold?
Well, I do think the future is bright, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here! There are big and exciting things in the making and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see them realized.
Artifakt is evolving as a company and as a product and I am very excited to witness this evolution. The latest release of the any-app capabilities and the adoption of container technology is only the beginning. The launch of the partnership program is also a great step towards success and I can’t wait to see the results. Artifakt has all the right ingredients to become a market leader not only in France but globally.
Another aspect that I am very interested in witnessing is the evolution of the team itself. I love seeing the diversity in the Artifakt team and can’t wait to see how much more it will grow!