May 18, 2021
Today, we are introducing one of the founders, Jean-Baptiste Bonnet. We asked him four questions to have a better understanding of the original idea that resulted in creating SOLSTEO. To learn more about the team and founders behind the company, and why SOLSTEO is a great market-fit.
I’ve always had this need to understand how things work. I feel very frustrated when I can't find a satisfactory explanation for how machines work. So I’ve been a real jack-of-all-trades since childhood. I just can’t resist dismantling and reassembling any mechanical, electrical or electronic device I come into contact with, purely out of curiosity. You could say that what tended to scare my parents and got me into trouble when I was a child has become something of an advantage today! And that fascination has never left me. I still have a great interest in electronics and programming, but also in handling systems. Whenever I come across such devices, I can’t help but think about how they function.
I came across industrial sterilization rather by chance. I had learned about it before starting my own business while I worked in a company that provides ethylene oxide sterilization services. It was a good fit for me, because it demands a lot of skills I have. At the same time, it’s combined with the need to meet very demanding levels of reliability and regulatory compliance. I started by setting up a company that designed industrial production software for the medical and pharmaceutical industries. I then got together with my co-founder Pierre Bouché to create SOLSTEO in 2014. In my case, becoming an entrepreneur was an important and fundamental step, because it’s an effective way of bringing new solutions to the market.
My career has taught me that to develop a business you have to be more than just a good engineer. You can have the best ideas in the world, but if you don’t know how to sell them or set up the business structure needed to make them a reality, you don't get very far. That’s why I think that Pierre and I are incredibly lucky to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses so well. To put it simply, I sometimes have my head in the clouds, but Pierre always has his feet firmly on the ground!
I take care of technical and design issues, while Pierre is responsible for selling the solution. The combination of our skills enables SOLSTEO to provide highly innovative, scalable and reliable technical solutions, meet production deadlines, deliver flawless quality, and even offer our customers project funding solutions. Our complementarity is really what allows SOLSTEO to offer a turnkey service.
SOLSTEO is a French manufacturer and European market leader in industrial EO sterilization solutions.
Every manufacturer has its own recipe for differentiating itself from competitors. At SOLSTEO, our strategy has been clear since the beginning of our adventure. Our offer is characterized by 3 key values:
These are the three core values of SOLSTEO. If it were not a company but maths or computer programming, we’d call these values our constants! They alone explain the success we’ve achieved over almost a decade.
I also believe that our organisational choices make a major contribution to the effectiveness of our business model: Our team is packed with qualified and - more importantly - brilliant engineers and technicians. All our solutions are designed in our Paris offices, and we’ve embarked on a kind of ‘Tour de France’ to select the very best partners we can find to manufacture our machines. Our boilermaker, for example, is an accredited contractor to the nuclear and aviation industries. This structure gives us the incredible flexibility required to manufacture multiple machines in parallel, as well as the clear working method and flawless documentation needed to compile comprehensive technical documentation.
Lastly, together with our values and organisational choices, technological innovation is another factor that sets us distinctively apart from competitors: our slogan ‘One Step Ahead’ says it all! We like to be the first to market with technological advances. That’s already the case with our sterilizer control software, which offers functions based on web technologies. But even more telling is the agreement we’ve signed with the Californian company Picarro, which has just introduced a revolutionary gas analyser that can measure concentrations of EO gas at levels previously impossible using conventional methods like gas chromatography. At SOLSTEO, we see this partnership as recognition of our passion for innovation!
Innovation is a very important consideration at SOLSTEO, but you’re right to bring the regulatory and standards framework into the equation. Detailed knowledge around these issues is absolutely crucial for SOLSTEO, but even more so for our customers, who are very keen to receive reliable and official information.
An EO sterilization unit is a very complex thing, and for two main reasons. Medical device manufacture is a very demanding field, and being both explosive and highly toxic, EO is an extremely dangerous gas. So it’s crucial to have a comprehensive knowledge of all the relevant regulations and standards.
So we work at the forefront of development with standards committees and notified bodies. For example, I’m a member of the ISO11135 and EN1422 standards working groups. These two standards are particularly important in our field, because they govern the manufacture of EO sterilizers (EN1422) and their use (ISO11135). I also have ISM ATEX trainer certification issued by the notified body INERIS (the French National Competence Centre for Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection). This level of involvement is what allows me to guarantee the safety and conformity of our installations. We also provide regular training for all our people to ensure that the high level of expertise at SOLSTEO is maintained.
But we’ve also built an extensive network of experts who can assist us or even take the lead on very specific issues.