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Jean-Francois Chianetta is the co-founder and CEO of Augment. He trained as a mechanical engineer but quickly made the jump in to software engineering and development.

His company, Augment is at the forefront of the exciting and disruptive world of Augmented Reality with its cutting edge software as a service platform.  Just over four years old the company now has clients such as Coca-Cola, Siemens, L’Oreal, Kelloggs, Samsung and is used by companies all over the world.

Calling in from Paris in France, we are speaking to Jean-Francois Chianetta the founder and CEO of Augment who are leading the way in Augmented Reality technology.

Jean-Francois has a wonderful story and over the last four years has built a tech company that is winning huge clients and gaining global recognition.

We talk about Jean-Francois’ critical decisions, challenges and tactics over the last four years to build his company in to an organisation that has raised millions of dollars of capital.

There a lots golden nuggets in this interview. Jean talks about

  • How is he building a company the wrong way round, or inside out, as he has built a product first and then went out to find his market
  • He shares the story of having only a three month life-line left in the company, changing the commercial model which completely saved the business
  • How he has been influenced by lego
  • How he tested his idea in the early days
  • He also give practical tips on how to methodically deal with inevitable uncertainty we face as entrepreneurs by planning for numerous eventualities

Read the magazine interview here

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  • It was all about this need I had to create stuff and build
  • I was working from 9-6 in my day job and then from 7-2 on my business
  • For the whole of 2014 we were not able to make any significant progress in terms of revenue
  • In early 2015, we saw we only had three months of cash left
  • You need to do things that don’t scale at first
  • I try to only do things that are going in the direction of the vision I want to fulfil
  • You need to say no most of the time
  • To me I don’t see any uncertainties, I just see various paths to get to various places
  • Stay calm and everything will follow
  • I can’t bare people who are losing their calm.
  • Every hour I was awake and not working I was either reading or listening to podcasts about entrepreneurship to understand what it’s all about – because when you know that you already have a lot of mistakes that are taken care of for you
  • Build and ship, even from the start. Maybe it sucks but you will learn something.  
  • Always talk about your project, everywhere you go
  • You can’t imagine how many documents I have on my drive that have just three lines because I started to type them and then went to something completely different
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Time Stamped Notes

00:03:37 – First iteration of Augment
00:05:44 – On values instilled when growing up
00:07:37 – On perception of money and concept of work and career
00:19:09 – Working a day job building a business on the side
00:20:39 – Finding a market for Augment, signing their first big client (L’oreal) and getting their first $1m funding
00:29:17 – Importance of doing things that don’t scale, at first.
00:32:39 – On finding co-founders
00:37:54 – On the biggest challenges running Augment
00:39:16 – On the importance of staying true to your vision
00:43:17 – On uncertainty and stress
00:47:52 – Advice and hacks on dealing with uncertainty and stress (fear setting)
00:50:38 – On biggest mistakes (not starting entrepreneurship earlier)
00:53:18 – On the importance of staying calm and rational
00:54:54 – On the importance of shipping early
00:59:09 – On real world experience vs education
01:01:18 – Biggest weakness. Lack of focus.
01:02:45 – On the most controversial decisions Jean has ever made. NOT focusing on a niche.
01:04:32 – On risk taking
01:12:14 – On the future of Augmented Reality

The Rebel Wrap Up Round

If you could go back to any point in your life, and have 1 hour with your past self; what moment would it be and what would you tell yourself?

01:14:12 When I got my first computer, and for teach my past self about entrepreneurship, and encouraged myself to look around for problem, because I had everything at my hands to try and solve them. That would have been the most powerful thing in my life.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, who gave it to you and how has it positively affected your career?

01:14:55 At SXSW, I met Steve Blank, and he said ‘go for it’.

What is the one generally agreed upon rule or conventional piece of wisdom, that you disagree with?

01:15:35 The fact that you can’t have deep connections with people you have just met, and that you have to see close friends all the time to truly call them close friends

If you could change one law what would it be?

01:16:59 The law in France about hiring and firing. There is a three months notice period, so when hiring you need to wait three months before someone starts at your company.

Who is the most disruptive, rebellious or revolutionary entrepreneur of the last 2 years?

01:19:48 Elon Musk. Building a company with a goal to populate Mars is quite amazing.

What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?

01:20:51 It’s to build things, and build them out until they have a live of your own. You can then remove yourself from the company and it still works.  

What advice would you give to anyone listening to this who wants to become a creator entrepreneur?

01:21:29 Start right now. Start developing it as fast as you can there is no time to lose. Just go for it.  

Who do you nominate to be a guest on the RebelHead Entrepreneurs podcast and can you sum them up in one word?

01:22:09 Rony Abovitz, Founder of Magic Leap. Crazy.

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About The Author

Matt Cheney
Executive Producer

Matt has been in the media industry for 11 years, specialising in audio post production. Matt has created Emmy award-winning music features, BAFTA nominated animations and acclaimed festival documentaries. Max & Matts’ paths merged in 2015 to produce the REBELHEAD podcast; publishing the successful series, telling stories of today’s most disruptive and rebellious entrepreneurs. Matt is currently Head of Audio at Vice Media UK and currently partner in two growing audio production companies. As part of the REBELHEAD Production team; he is ambitiously road-mapping the rise of REBELHEAD via new media and emerging technologies.

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