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What is Hexplo, the web platform that dreams of “Waze” for cyclists?

From Paris to reach Berlin, you will have to pedal for 1,047 km. With some pretty climbs along the way if we are to believe Hexplo, which details the entire profile of the route in a graph, like those who dissect each stage of the Tour de France. The site promises you 93% of paved roads, including 43% of cycle paths, 9% of small departmental roads and 48% of roads qualified as “quiet”.

Hexplo automatically offers a quiet program, in 22 days, with 42 kilometers to be covered daily. This is the quiet mode, but it is possible to vary this daily ration. From sports mode (in 11 days) to family mode (105). Depending on the pace chosen, the route calculator each time offers a detailed plan, on a map, of your stages.

Emmanuel Brault, 23, founded Hexplo, a web platform, which he hopes to complete as soon as possible with an application and which helps cycle tourists plan their stays. – @Emmanuel Brault

“The future is in cycling holidays”

Behind Hexplo, officially launched at the end of April, we find Emmanuel Brault, 23, from Boulogne-Billancourt. Freshly graduated from the Central Lille engineering school – “with a course very focused on entrepreneurship”, he specifies, the young man was quick to dive into the deep end. By creating his first company in the field of his passion: cycle tourism. “The first trip was a La Rochelle-Bordeaux, in 2018, with a friend, he says. I loved. I didn’t think I would be so out of place and so disconnected by staying so close to Paris. »

Burgundy by bike will follow, then Saint-Malo – Morlaix, Amsterdam-Paris or even Paris-Bordeaux. So many journeys that will confirm him in his idea that “the future is in cycling holidays”, if only because he has the advantage of having a very good carbon footprint. An increasingly shared conviction? “France is now positioned as the second world destination for cycling tourism after Germany, with more than nine million cycling trips per year”, welcomes the Ministry of the Economy. The Covid-19 crisis has only amplified the phenomenon, adds Florent Tijou, project manager at France Vélo Tourisme, an association that supports communities in promoting their cycle routes. As proof, the attendance records for his site: “More 111% between 2019 and 2021”, he announces, estimating that the increase should continue this year.

Calculate your route, but also find accommodation…

It remains to make life easier for these holidaymakers on bicycles, especially when they want to leave the “EuroVélo”, these major well-marked routes such as the Loire à Vélo, the Vélodyssée (between Roscoff and Hendaye) or the Via Rhôna. With this in mind, Hexplo’s route planner can be helpful. “Others offer a similar tool,” explains Florent Tiju. Starting with France Vélo Tourisme, “but also Geovelo or two German players who have launched in France in recent years, he lists. Komoot, more for seasoned cyclists and Outdooractive. »

The tool is also accessible on the free part of Hexplo and allows you to plan these trips over a large part of Europe. But the Boulonnais wants to go further. “Once the route has been drawn and the stages fixed, the platform makes it possible to find and book accommodation, to do the same thing for train tickets or to locate places of interest close to your route”, explains Emmanuel Brault. . This is the main “plus” of Hexplo for its founder, who built his project by interviewing around thirty regular cyclists to understand their needs. “Everyone already has their favorite tools to build their course, find accommodation, book a train ticket, he explains. On the other hand, none brings together all its services under the same platform. This is precisely what Hexplo is aiming for. »

Emmanuel Brault says he has already integrated 30,000 places of interest into his website, as well as 700 hosting cyclists, 7,000 bivouac points, “but also all the offers listed on Booking thanks to a partnership with the platform”, he specifies. It is the access to this second paid part. “Thirty euros per year, slips Emmanuel Brault, adding that this package also offers the advantage of recording and downloading your itinerary.

Become the “Waze” of the cyclist

Hexplo starts slowly. At the very beginning of May, the young entrepreneur had between 30 and 40 subscribers to his platform. Ultimately, Emmanuel Brault seeks to create the “waze of the cyclist”. A reference to this mobile driving assistance application popular with car drivers and which works on the principle of participatory production. In other words, users themselves enrich the application with content. “The idea is the same with Hexplo, already imagines Emmanuel Brault. But rather than reporting speed cameras or traffic jams, users will be invited to save bivouac locations, accommodations, points of interest that they have enjoyed. »

For this, Hexplo must not be limited to a web platform, but also comes in a mobile application. “The priority project,” says Emmanuel Brault who, ideally, would like to have this application available by this summer. “But for that, I will have to recruit and, beforehand, find funds,” he slips. The other challenge will be to grow the community of subscribers as quickly as possible. “The key to success is to offer the richest content possible, but also to acquire new services”, considers Florent Tijou. If France Velo Tourisme does not have in the cards the project to launch a mobile application, nor to develop the collaborative aspect, “on the other hand, a growing number of actors are embarking on this idea, he continues. All of them, very often, with the ambition of becoming the Waze of cyclists. In short, there is competition. In this context, Emmanuel Brault is still the choice of paying. “Initially, I had this idea that to democratize a service, it had to be made free,” he says. But this strategy involved the risk of building a platform to please my partners first before the cyclists. Which I really didn’t want. And then, again, the young entrepreneur says he set the price of the subscription based on his interviews with seasoned cyclists: “Thirty euros a year, that’s not an obstacle, they told me” .

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