Generating Revenue with Free and Open-Source Software: Not an Impossible Task!

Nicolas CARPI Deltablot and eLabFTW

Nicolas CARPI, Founder and CEO of Deltablot and eLabFTW, tell us about the open Source software for research labs.

Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Deltablot and eLabFTW.

Nicolas CARPI: I created the Deltablot company in April 2019 to provide Support and Hosting to the users of the free and open-source software I created and maintained for many years prior: eLabFTW, an electronic lab notebook for research laboratories.

Because at the end of the day, the real value is not in the software itself but the level of support you can provide to users. And server software requires domain knowledge, which is not always available to the target users (scientific researchers).

Thus, Deltablot was born so users could have someone to call when their installation broke or if they wanted a custom feature or didn’t have an IT department to manage the hosting.

Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?

Nicolas CARPI: Yes, I have found that skipping breakfast and lunch and only drinking coffee, tea, and water during the day improved my focus and productivity drastically. Dinner then becomes some sort of reward after an intensive day of development, zoom meetings, emails, and other things. To finish the day, at least one Star Trek episode is mandatory.

How do Deltablot and eLabFTW market its product/services online? 

Nicolas CARPI: Interestingly, the marketing budget of Deltablot is 0. I believe that if the product is good, word-of-mouth is enough to bring in new customers/users. eLabFTW already has a wide user base of “free users,” and some of them become customers after a few months or years of using the software without PRO Support/Hosting. The Deltablot website is basically one big funnel to the “Contact” page, and everything is done via emails and, more often than not, zoom meetings.

How are you funding your growth?

Nicolas CARPI: New customers are acquired nearly every week. They come to me and pay for the service, so there is no need to acquire funds from another source.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Nicolas CARPI: The Electronic Lab Notebook market is saturated. There are many solutions out there, and new ones are popping up. Some are good, some are okay, and some are really bad.

One main demarcating aspect of eLabFTW is that it is free and open-source software, which is a mandatory requirement for some users, especially if they work in sensitive areas (e.g., nuclear research).

Another aspect specific to eLabFTW and Deltablot is the lack of telemetry, tracking cookies, and other personal data aspirators, which many appreciate.

Finally, Deltablot is able to provide a highly secure service to customers through a SecNumCloud qualified service with best practices in modern cloud deployment and security aspects respected.

So the above points and my commitment to providing the best ELN software to research laboratories will hopefully allow me to stay in the game.

Tell us a customer success story of yours.

Nicolas CARPI: It took many years and a lot of emails and zoom meetings, but now eLabFTW is the recommended electronic lab notebook for CNRS laboratories. CNRS is the French state research organization and is the largest fundamental science agency in Europe. So it is a great honor and achievement that they chose to use my solution for the needs of so many research labs.

Your final thoughts.

Nicolas CARPI: After working for 15 years in a research lab, creating my company was a bold move, but I believe a good one. Business is booming, and opportunities are plentiful. It is a lot of work, but being your own boss also has its perks.

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