Regis Micheli (PGE 2000), founder of Oktogone Group (Visiplus, Iscod, Otily)

04 January 2023 Interview

Hello, Regis. You’re the founder of Oktogone Group. Can you tell us about your journey since graduating from SKEMA Business School?


I joined SKEMA Business School in 1998 and finished in 2000. I spent a year in San Francisco as part of an exchange programme organised through CERAM (SKEMA’s former name). During this exchange I worked part-time as a webmaster in a San Francisco startup. I returned to France at the end of the exchange and worked for a startup in Sophia Antipolis, in the marketplace sector, first as webmaster, then as head of partnerships and later on as head of web marketing. That experience taught me a lot, as I held three different positions in less than two years!

Then I started my own digital marketing agency. Initially I worked alone as a consultant for one year, then I quickly hired others to join me. In addition to this consulting side of the business, I was also providing training in digital marketing. I ran the business as a marketing agency/continuing education provider for about ten years. At that time, the training sessions were mainly delivered in person and they were aimed at professionals working in marketing and communications. In 2016 we transitioned over to online training, at first by offering a course in organic and paid SEO which was a huge success. Gradually, we built up our catalogue of online courses, now being sold under the Visiplus brand. This brand is under the umbrella of a holding company called Oktogone, which I set up in 2018 for our three main lines of business: digital marketing agency, online training, and work-study courses. Our audience these days is very diverse. We reach adults with the continuing education courses, and people under 29 with the 100% online work-study programmes. We have students from all over France, with two to five years of higher education, and an interest in web development and coding for example. Our growth has really accelerated over the last 3 years, and particularly over the last 2 years, during the COVID period. Our headcount grew from 80 to 180. Our turnover increased from €13,000,000 to €32,000,000. COVID helped us mature in online training. Taking training courses online is now a no-brainer. We’re now reaping the rewards of the seeds we planted 20 years ago! In 2022, Oktogone reached a new milestone by becoming part of the AD Education group, one of Europe’s leading players in private education, particularly in the communication and creative arts sectors.

How did you get the idea to create Visiplus in 2002?


There was no one exact moment, more a series of ideas and opportunities. I was in touch with service providers as part of my job as the head of web marketing. This made me want to start my own business, because I thought I could do better and I was noticing ways to improve what the providers I was working with were offering. It might have been a little presumptuous of me, but it worked ;).



In what ways did your SKEMA education help you with setting up and scaling your company? 


I feel that it was going overseas during my studies that had the biggest influence on my career path. The two exchanges I did really boosted not just my desire to start my own business, but also my digital marketing knowledge and skills. In 2002, digital marketing wasn’t yet very widespread in France and I clearly had a real competitive edge in the market, mainly because of my Silicon Valley experience.

So for me, SKEMA was a catalyst and set me on the path towards my vocation.



You’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned? 

Never give up, always stay on the cutting edge of innovation, keep in mind the “time to market” so you can be there at the right time.


What obstacles did you encounter in your venture? 


I don’t feel like there were many. I wouldn’t really say obstacles, I would say moments of doubt is more accurate. For me, the biggest challenge is recruiting the right people with the right skills. Recruitment isn’t an exact science and it’s quite complicated.


What do you love most about your work?


Developing new projects, especially projects involving innovations. At Oktogone, innovation is at the heart of our business because our business is all about pedagogy; we try to innovate in this area and we strive to train people remotely and differently. This requires a lot of thinking about the pedagogy and technological innovation, which go hand in hand with online training: there is no online training without associated pedagogy and there is no online training without technology. For example, over the past seven years we have invested a great deal in an online training platform that is now essential to our business. To this day, starting projects and seeing them come to fruition is what I love most about my work.


What are your expectations of the SKEMA Alumni network?


Oktogone Group employs many SKEMA alumni and is always open to welcoming new students and graduates. I would really like to make connections and maintain ties with the school, especially with the Sophia Antipolis campus because, geographically speaking, we're very close.


What image do you have of SKEMA these days?


I have a very positive image of the school. At the time, I had come from Lyon expressly to join SKEMA, which had a great reputation, particularly for technological marketing and entrepreneurship. In 1998, there weren’t many schools with partnerships in place to allow students to do an exchange programme in the United States like I did. The innovation aspect already existed and it was one of my reasons for wanting to study at SKEMA. It’s a school that has managed to keep in step with the times. The ability to renew themselves is the mark of great companies, because to continue to grow, to stay relevant, one of the keys is constant reinvention. With the CERAM and ESC merger in 2009, SKEMA had already taken a considerable risk that allowed it to shape its future and reinvent itself.

When hiring young SKEMA graduates, we noticed that the school delivered very good training in “future of work” methods. The world of work is changing and it’s going to keep changing faster and faster. This requires a great capacity to adapt. And of course the school’s international outlook is one of its major assets.


Do you have any advice for SKEMA students and new graduates? 


It’s important to develop your ability to adapt and to engage in self-reflection. To understand that occupations are evolving very rapidly. We’ve been talking about this for 25 years, but today it’s an actual reality. These days, a new graduate will likely change jobs and companies four or five times over the course of their career. So it’s important to develop the ability to change and evolve, and to continue learning throughout your life. Lifelong learning is crucial nowadays. You have to draw inspiration from the Anglo-Saxon model and continue to invest in yourself, in building up your knowledge and skills, because the end of your studies doesn’t in any way spell the end of your education.



What are your plans for Oktogone and for yourself? 


I passed the Oktogone reins over to AD Education in June 2022. I helped ensure a smooth transition to the new management and in late December I left Oktogone and AD Education to start a new venture as a business angel. Some time in the future, I’d also like to mentor young entrepreneurs to help them with their projects.


Contact: Regis Micheli - Founder and former CEO of Oktogone Group (Visiplus, Iscod, Otily)