As part of the dissemination of a series of portraits of companies that are members of the Edteq Association (Enterprises for the development of educational technologies in Quebec), it is our pleasure today to present Druide informatique to you!
The 25 years of existence of Computer Druid are closely linked to Antidote, its famous writing assistance software, which has become an essential reference over the years. Today, more than a million users call on it to take care of their writing. Originally, however, this success was far from guaranteed.
In 1993, Antidote's commercialization project was risky and development ambitious. Indeed, at that time, the language aids market was underdeveloped and computers, not very powerful. Despite everything, Éric Brunelle, a young 30-year-old computer scientist, convinced his friends, lawyer André d'Orsonnens and mathematician Bertrand Pelletier, to embark on the adventure.
“We felt that the computer could do a lot more with words than just word processing,” recalls Éric Brunelle. “Our vision of Antidote was that of a complete writing assistance software, with a proofreader, of course, but also rich and practical reference books”. This objective set the bar very high for the first edition. The three founders assembled a small team of “druids” - as they are affectionately known - who worked tirelessly for more than three years to create this new linguistic suite from scratch.
In 1996, Druide proudly launched the first edition of Antidote, which then united in a coherent whole an advanced spelling and grammar checker, a dictionary of 76,000 words, a conjugator of 8,000 verbs and a grammar of difficulties of 200 rules. If Antidote was already outclassing its rivals, it was still necessary to make it known and gain the confidence of the public.
“For every dollar invested in research and development, we put the same amount into marketing,” explains André d'Orsonnens. This investment made it possible to conduct an awareness campaign in the field, starting with bookstores and computer retailers in Quebec. We had to convince the first customers one by one, until word of mouth took hold.
After several thousand demonstrations, Antidote has established itself in Quebec as the preferred solution for businesses as well as the institutional market and schools. The latter also benefits from very special support. “From the start, Druide has been committed to giving an Antidote to a school for every ten copies sold at retail,” explains André d'Orsonnens. In total, 3,745 schools have shared the right to install Antidote on 32,236 computers, which represents more than $ 3.4 million in software and maintenance distributed free of charge to educational institutions.
Druide's continued commitment to education is also evident in its support for the Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation, for which it has raised more than $ 350,000 as part of its annual golf tournament, the Classic Druid.
In addition to these philanthropic actions, Druide's commercial success has made it possible to invest in research and development to continually improve Antidote. The ninth edition, released in 2015, will mark a major turning point by offering an Antidote that is as complete and effective for English as it is for French. Finally, with the donation of one million dollars to the University of Montreal for research in text analysis, Druide is strategically positioned to discover what advances in artificial intelligence will bring to future editions of Antidote.
Already, the power of the corrector and the wealth of linguistic works constitute valuable content, now available in several other products.
On paper, the Grand Druid of synonyms and antonyms and the Grand Druid of Co-Occurrences, also available in a smaller format (Little Druid ...), offer content extracted from Antidote, carefully selected to constitute the most complete dictionaries in their category.
On iPhone and iPad, Antidote Mobile offers access in French or English to all dictionaries and language guides, in addition to offering a space for discovering words including games and word lists that teachers can create and distribute. to their students. “A teacher told me that with Antidote Mobile on her students' iPad, she could make them do exercises with the dictionaries at any time, without them having to drag heavy books. », Says Éric Brunelle. “It's a subtle, but powerful, transformation in the usefulness of reference books. "
Thanks to prudent management of its finances, Druide has managed to free up leeway to support other promising projects.
In 2011, Druide thus enthusiastically laid the foundations for a new company, by joining forces with veterans of the book industry, to found Éditions Druide, a subsidiary whose mission is to publish literature and reference works. . The educational sheets that it produces for its youth titles are particularly popular with teachers.
The following year, Druide acquired Tap'Touch, the software for learning keyboard fingering, developed by the Quebec company De Marque. “With Antidote, we help people write without mistakes; it was about time we helped them write faster! »Laughs André d'Orsonnens. “While Antidote provides valuable services to students, Typing Pal also contributes to their success, since mastery of the keyboard is an essential skill: good typing technique allows them to focus on the quality of the language and the content of their language. message, ”adds Éric Brunelle.
Today, 25 years after its founding, Druide continues its quest for excellence and remains more than ever committed to supporting education.