The Entrepreneur of the Year awards for the Occitanie region were awarded to the finalists on Thursday, October 14. In the Entrepreneur category, the jury rewarded Jean-Marc Bouchet (chairman of the supervisory board) and Louis Blanchard (chairman), the two co-founding directors of Qair. In the Start-Up category, the honors go to the co-founders of Aura Aero, Jérémy Caussade, Fabien Raison and Wilfried Dufaud.
Three other winning companies were nominated, in the categories of Family Business, Start-Up Born Global and Social Commitment.
Stéphane Auriol (AHG): the lesson of resilience
The Ateliers de Haute-Garonne (AHG) created in 1915 illustrate the rebound capacity of family businesses. World leader in the production of rivets for the aeronautics industry, the century-old company based in Flourens (Haute-Garonne), started in the spring of 2020 in the manufacture of surgical masks to compensate for the decline in aeronautical activity.
For Stéphane Auriol, one of the four associate directors (brothers and sisters and representatives of the fourth generation), this is an investment, a development in the medical sector, while maintaining the rivets activity. AHG is one of the eleven companies selected in France to manufacture meltblown (filtering non-woven textile material). It achieved 40.8 million euros in turnover in 2020 with 485 employees. Stéphane Auriol is the winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Occitania in the Family Business category.
Francis Ingrand (digital plug-in): a champion of growth
Created in Montpellier (Hérault) in 2012 by Francis Ingrand, Plug In Digital specializes in the publishing and distribution of video games (PC, consoles, mobiles and cloud). With nearly 13.7 million euros in turnover in 2020, of which 78% abroad, growth of 192% between 2018 and 2020 and headcount increasing from eleven to forty people in the same period, Plug In Digital asserted itself in March 2021 as the champion of growth in the entertainment sector (source Les Echos).
This progress is driven by the development of a subsidiary in China in 2019, as well as by the boom in the Dear Villagers publishing brand, which has just celebrated its two anniversary. Francis Ingrand, the founding president of Plug in Digital, won the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Occitanie in the Born global category.
Estelle Ast (WhatcHelp): autonomy on the wrist
Mother of an autistic child, the entrepreneur Estelle Ast created in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne) the WatchHelp application, to make her son more independent on a daily basis. A successful crowdfunding campaign launched the development of the application which, via a connected watch, reminds its user of daily tasks such as washing their hands or coming to the table. An alert is sent to the user’s watch at the scheduled time, in the form of text or images.
This tool is a precious help for autistic people but also for people with loss of autonomy suffering from Alzheimer’s. Launched in 2016, WatcHelp has won numerous awards including the Lépine Competition which rewards the best inventions. About 5,000 people use it daily. Paid subscriptions generate recurring income for the development of new features. Estelle Ast is the winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Occitanie in the Societal Commitment category.
* The Entrepreneur of the Year award is organized by EY, in partnership with HSBC, Verlingue, Steelcase and Bpifrance.