Paperplane: Send Augmented Reality messages, in the real world
Please introduce yourself and your startup Paperplane to our readers!
We are Beniamin Chiciudean, Lili Cadot and Luiz Strecker.
Beniamin: I worked as an IT engineer for years and now I’m the developer on the team. I’m from Romania.
Emeline: I am the business developer of Paperplane. I worked as head of an event agency for 2 years. I’m French.
Luiz: I’m the product Strategist and designer. I originally come from São Paulo, Brazil and I studied technology and innovation at the Sorbonne University.
We have created a new messaging app called Paperplane. With Paperplane, you can send augmented reality messages to your friends. Your friends can see the messages in the real world. Here is our website: www.thepaperplane.io We are a British startup with an international team and we’re all passionate about our product. We want to change the way people communicate in the future!
How did you get the idea to Paperplane?
Both of us don’t come from a technological background. That was key in the inception of Paperplane, because we didn’t know what was technologically possible to build. And so we let our creativity free will one afternoon and came up with Paperplane. The defining question was : “What If I could send you a virtual paper airplane and you could take your camera and see it flying towards you?” (hence the name)
How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
We started Paperplane in a dark 14 sqm apartment in Paris just 8 months ago. The first Paperplane draft was created on an ironing board, because we didn’t have space nor enough money to buy a table. We didn’t even know how to pay rent for the following month, but we knew we had to build Paperplane. It was clear to us that the first company that gets users into the AR world and makes them stick, will be the winner of the next decade. So we’d better make sure it’s us.
Today, of course, we have a pretty clear view where we want to be in the next years and also what kind of company we want Paperplane to be.
But back when we started, we had no clear idea, nor enough personal confidence to know that we’d able to do it. In terms of financing, we are very lucky to have a team with us, that is so involved in the project and loyal to us and the vision. Nobody, including ourselves, was getting paid anything since October last year.
Many friends in the industry have supported us with free tickets, vouchers and credit, so all development hosting and infrastructure is basically for free for us. We have looked at funding programs for a long time and having some cash would help us immensely of course. But at the same time, we need to find the right funding partner for us and our industry sector. Be it a program or an angel investor.. We have also started a kickstarter campaign which is still running. Here is the link: www.helpus.thepaperplane.io
Who is your target audience?
We are creating something which has never been done before, so we have to make tests before we are sure 100% of our target audience. But we will probably focus on the 13-28 years old market.
What is the USP of your startup?
Let’s say it’s your birthday. You receive an sms from a friend containing: “Happy Birthday.” There will probably be some part of you wondering if your friend really cares about you. If he decides to call you and say: “Happy Birthday!”, you would already feel a lot happier.
Even though a call and a text contain the exact same information, you can not transmit the same amount of emotions with an sms than you can with a phone call, audio or video message. Now, let’s take this idea further. The perfect message, has three dimensions. Information, emotion and context. The context defines how, when and where I see the message. For decades the tech-industry has tried to make the perfect messaging experience, with all three dimensions. But nobody was able to do it.
Last year, we at Paperplane found a solution using Augmented Reality which enables us to put context into messaging.
I can now send you an informative and emotional message and also place it in a specific location and make sure you see it a certain way using A.R.
It’s a very subtle, but highly important step, which this will shape the future of communication.
Can you describe a typical workday of you?
There is not really a typical workday for us. Everyday is different and we do stuff we’ve never done before. Yesterday for example, we worked on the UI of Paperplane, we also shot a Q&A session for our Kickstarter campaign and we had two Skype meetings with our development team.
Where do you see yourself and Paperplane in five years?
At the moment Paperplane is purely an A.R. messaging application, but in the near future we’ll be much more than that. The future idea is to create an AR platform on top of which a lot of interesting and creative content can be built in the future.
What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
Never bend your values for anyone.
We started Paperplane without knowing how to build a company nor how to build a tech product. We had no money and we didn’t know anyone in the entire Augmented Reality Industry that could help us out. The only reason we’re still around today, and growing every day, is because we were able to attract wonderful people to work with us and believe in us and deeply believe in our values.
Become inside-out validated.
Always do what you think is right, completely independent of what external validation tells you to do. Don’t let experts, bloggers, incubators etc, tell you how to build your own company. It’s your baby and you decide what’s best for it. This is very hard, but highly important.
Building a company is probably the hardest thing in the world! And having a positive mind is probably the most important thing. People will try to take that from you at any point.
We were told our idea was bad, that our tech was bad, that we don’t have enough experience, that our strategy was bad and we make too many mistakes. We lost a lot of money and we lost many friends. So you need to always see the bright side in everything. This is very hard. It helps when you’re at least two founders.
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Thank you Beniamin Chiciudean, Lili Cadot and Luiz Strecker for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.