You might use the words “tech savvy” to describe Olivier Menard. After starting his career as an electrical engineer in the aerospace industry in Texas, he continued it in Toulouse, France, where he designed satellites on-board computers for 15 years. After earning a master’s degree in industrial design and innovation at Strate Paris, he began managing an open innovation lab dedicated to exploring out-of-the-box ideas and inventions.
It is at that innovation lab that he was able to create and develop the game-changing Airboard—a small electronic card allowing innovators to quickly and easily prototype their internet inventions.
What is The AirBoard and how did you come up with the idea for it? I noticed that many innovative ideas that come out of brainstorming sessions end up abandoned, notably due to the lack of resources and a formal execution process. This is why I decided to create a basic tool to rapidly prototype objects from the internet that we could use in extreme Prototyping sessions which I hold—agile workshops inspired from Design Thinking where innovative ideas are quickly prototyped.
The Airboard is a miniature, compact, wireless, stand-alone electronic card compatible with the open-source electronics platform Arduino. It requires very little power to work and lets you prototype connected objects rapidly. It needs 5 seconds to update the code, and its battery lasts 3 years in standby mode or 6 months while in use.
Who is the AirBoard primarily for? Thanks to its small size and long lasting battery, it offers a seamless experiences to creators, from the novice to the expert (pro-maker). The AirBoard is particularly useful for tech startups looking to quickly validate their concept before launching to production, by saving them 6 months in development time. Successful products who have utilized the AirBoard include Hydrao (a smart shower head) who raised 18,759 € ($22,420) on Kiss Kiss Bank Bank and Peufdaddy (a sensor that measures and shares real time snow depth measurements).
Tell us a little bit about your logo. Did you have a good idea of what you were looking for from the get-go? I knew straight from the beginning I would need a powerful logo to build The AirBoard identity around its core values: open-source, wireless, user friendly, and user empowerment. One of the difficulties was to create a monochrome logo that could be printed directly onto the miniature circuit, considering only few colors could suit.
Why did you choose this logo and how do you think it is impacting your current development? I had trouble deciding between two very good designs, but the one I chose better highlights the product values and was an improvement compared to the initial logo. Today’s logo is a key element of the vision of the project and powerfully communicates our brand.
Congrats on making your Kickstarter goal! Tell us a little bit about the success of that campaign. The Kickstarter campaign reached its target within 1 day and doubled it in 3 days. The campaign is closing in 2 days. I’ve been surprised by the amount of positive feedback we already have from users. Innovation is very surprising! The interesting thing is that within 1 week we were able to identify a group of people everywhere in the world who shared the vision of our project and was willing to support us. (The project has a few days left! Support Olivier’s vision here!)
Has social media played a role at all in the growth of your business? Totally. Having quality content is not enough. A good communication strategy is absolutely needed to bring content to life. And social networks are definitely a good way to spread the word. You may have a good story, but no one is ever going to know about it if you don’t share it in a proper way. At the same time, if you keep sharing poor quality content or are not up to date, no matter how much you share it, people are not going to follow your story anymore.
What advice do you have for others starting a business/launching a new product? Be patient. Take your time when launching your company or your product. A few weeks of delay won’t drastically change the final results but they will certainly help you be better prepared and better anticipate the coming obstacles. At the same time, keep your eyes open for any external signals that may impact your industry and the opportunities that come up and be ready to jump on them!