Jean-Francois Chianetta – Augment

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Jean-François Chianetta is the Co-Founder and CEO of Augment, a mobile app that lets you visualize 3D models at real size inserted in the real environment.


Being a technical CEO, I think that having a deep knowledge of the whole product, the nuts and bolts, is a huge advantage. Business and product are tightly interrelated, especially in the early stage, so having one foot in business and one in the code lead to much faster and better decisions.


We began trying to sell directly. We went to meet customers and try to get them to buy our product face-to-face. It wasn’t working, and at the same time we had thousand of new people every day on our platform who were left alone. We stopped all the direct sales and we started to build a completely automated sales cycle which was a lot more efficient (actually it is more of an automatic lead generator).


Since the app market is global and you can be available everywhere in the world, we decided to translate our app into 10 languages on day 1, principally for Asian countries where you can have a greater impact by being available in a native language. Today South Korea is our third biggest market and we’ve never spent a dime on marketing there.


You’ve got to make the challenge big enough by presenting a big vision, with all the difficulties and obstacles that will be on the way. Really good people are looking for ultra-challenging jobs!


We have adopted the Monday meeting where we craft the big picture for the week and then everyone is working on their own, no distractions and no micro-management. Freedom is essential to keep a developer productive, and when the team is not too big, you can really go fast.


We have a product that is really awesome to demo because it’s very visual. So we went to all the events we could with iPads and demoed our app to all the people we met. This is what brought us huge media coverage and our first 400K downloads. TV channels particularly like it (it’s sexy on television).


When I applied to the “best augmented reality demo” at an AR world event. I had nothing, no demo… I didn’t even know what I would demonstrate. I finished the demo 2 days before the event, and ended ...

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