“If I could give you one piece of advice, I’d say: Don’t wait!”
Olivier Malafronte always knew that he was born to be an entrepreneur. Despite this, starting his own business didn’t happen overnight. The young entrepreneur worked hard to pursue his dreams.
Like many people, he knew he wanted to start his business, but the ideas weren’t quite there yet. Olivier could only offer his best skills as he joined ongoing startup projects, learning from professional teams as he progressed.
In 2015, Olivier Malafronte joined EIA with a project in mind. He was eager to realize his dreams! This was the beginning of PocketConfidant, a virtual coach powered by artificial intelligence. PocketConfidant is a tool that helps users to form and organize thoughts, challenging them in real time.
After four years, the startup has been funded near 500K€. It currently has plans to working with large global clients to augment the coaching industry, raise new funding and take its technology to the next stage before including multiple languages and start growing in different markets.
With our Summer Program ‘19 coming soon, we’ve talked to Olivier Malafronte, Founder and CEO of PocketConfidant AI. Olivier shared what’s been happening since his EIA days, as well as his future plans for the startup.
EIA: To start things off, can you explain the mission behind PocketConfidant AI?
Olivier Malafronte: PocketConfidant uses machine learning and natural language processing to build technology. We aim to create great attitudes and behaviors for better living and working. It’s all based on conversational experiences.
PocketConfidant helps people to raise their awareness in order to develop more proactive changing and learning processes. By doing this, users will be able to handle changes regardless of the experience they’re going through. They can develop confidence, creative thinking, and social & communication skills.
As a company, we believe that we can contribute to a better world by empowering people. We’d like them to use their cognitive and emotional skills to foster the best attitudes and behaviors in every situation.
EIA: How did EIA help you to develop Pocket Confidant AI?
Olivier Malafronte: 2015 was a very special time for our startup. By joining EIA, we had the opportunity to put us at work with a short-term team formed at EIA (we did not know if it would last or if we’d have to hire new team members later) and network with successful entrepreneurs and investors. A first reality check on our ideas…
During the summer program, our team faced challenging exercises. One good example is when we had to reach 1000 customers in just a few days. That was the kicking point for us.
It doesn’t matter if you reach the goal, what matters is finding ways to reach it. This exercise brought us our first experimental client and PocketConfidant’s third co-founder.
EIA was a big booster at the earliest stage of our life.
EIA: Do you have any prizes, awards, funding? What investment you have received so far?
Olivier Malafronte: We’ve raised near 500K€ in total between capital, grants, and loans between 2017 and 2018. Now PocketConfidant AI is undergoing a new funding episode. In terms of prizes and awards, we’ve received some interesting recognition. [Innovation Award FrenchTech Cote d’Azur (2017) / Worldwide Finalist Microsoft Imagine Cup in Seattle (2017) / FrenchTech grant/funding (2017)]
EIA: What were the biggest challenges you faced at the beginning of this project?
Olivier Malafronte: Positioning and finding the right messaging. This is a complex and ongoing process for PocketConfidant (and a lot of startups) because we’re pioneers and creating new technology. We’re always challenging ourselves to find the right way to communicate with people and stakeholders.
When it comes to challenges, funding was the biggest one. You take your proactivity to the highest levels when you’re beginning your entrepreneurial life. When looking for stakeholders, you need to find those who understand what you want to do, and who believe in you and in your direction. They’re the ones ready to support your startup idea. And when not being a successful exit CEO already, you have to put even more energy.
EIA: What are the future plans for PocketConfidant AI?
Olivier Malafronte: At this moment, we’re focused on creating value with a few large clients who are using our technology, IP, and expertise to create a market advantage. This is helping us to shape our user experience and collect meaningful data from users, customers, and customer ecosystems.
As a next step, we’re now creating a research lab for coaching. We want to use technology to grow based on data. This would allow us to develop a unique advantage on the market, as well as great value for our stakeholders.
Our future plan is to have a multi-language product and reach new markets with it.
EIA: Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs or those who want to start their own business?
Olivier Malafronte: Yes, I do! I started my entrepreneur’s journey with guts and heart without knowing what was going on. But, I knew I wanted this.
So if I could give you one piece of advice, I’d say: Don’t wait!
Looking back at my story, I see that I was already set to start during the first year of my master program back in 2010. However, it didn’t happen.
I think that it would have been great to start a little project on the side just to begin my “startup training” earlier… So my advice is don’t wait, don’t be afraid to try. The worst that can happen is that you will learn more and vary the experiences, when you are young you have little to lose or even nothing to lose, but learning to acquire which is the biggest asset for entrepreneurs. No need to target success, target learning and opportunities to explore and experiment yourself!
Listen to your feelings and make decisions in a way that empowers you to achieve your dream! In this way you’ll always be inspired, stable, enthusiastic, proficient, and happy about who you are and what you do, as well as all this will impact others around you (friends, family, clients, investors etc.)
Would you like to read more startup success stories? Check out EIA’s blog and get inspired!
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