The start-up SOLEN, "the Sun" in Swedish, received the PEPITE Prize – a trampoline for student entrepreneurship – on May 17th, 2019, at the Viva Technology Conference in Paris.
This start-up was born in the heart of the MGP Advanced Master® (MGPIE) at ISAE-SUPAERO, and has developed a cellphone application that can measure and quantify sunlight in an outdoor location and the brightness of an apartment
The three students from the class of 2016, Thomas Tirtiaux, Clément Henry and Enzo Laurent won the PEPITE Prize created by the Ministry in charge of Higher Education and Research. The purpose of this prize is to encourage and support projects for creating businesses among students and new graduates, rewarding the best innovative projects.
"In October 2015, Thomas Tirtiaux came to see me to talk about his idea of measuring the level of sunlight. I validated his subject to register it with the training program’s Business Creation Projects (PCE – Projets de Création d’Entreprise). This subject is the perfect example of managing a project combining technological innovation and design thinking, leading to the creation of a start-up and entrepreneurship", explained Philippe Girard, professor and educational director for the Advanced Master in Management of Innovative Projects and Entrepreneurship.
The original idea was to find a sunny outdoor café to have a drink. For this need, Thomas developed an algorithm that determines the sunniness potential of a location based on a photo, integrating various parameters and taking inspiration from the technology used in photovoltaics. The three graduates have continued the adventure and their start-up, SOLEN, has grown and now has some ten employees. They have perfected their technological innovation and decided to adapt it to the real estate sector.
The mobile app using augmented reality can measure and quantify the brightness of a house, thus helping potential buyers to picture themselves in their future home.
They now offer this measurement service to real estate agents and developers. They have developed a brightness certificate, and have signed agreements with Bouygues Immobilier and Foncia. They have plenty of ideas and are thinking about more applications for gardening, urban agriculture, energy efficiency upgrades, etc.
We are in the marketing phase for our solution designed for developers in France, but the first projects have also been sold in Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Our ambition is to triple our sales this year so as to be profitable by the end of the year. We hope to expand further internationally next year," said Enzo Laurent, CTO and co-founder of SOLEN.
Thomas, Clément and Enzo are engineer-entrepreneurs. They have become players in innovation thanks to their studies at engineering schools, at INSA Strasbourg, INSA Lyon and École des Mines St Etienne, respectively, taken further with an advanced master’s degree.
The purpose of the Advanced Master® in Management of Innovative Projects and Entrepreneurship is to simultaneously develop the spirit of innovation and the spirit of entrepreneurship while learning to manage technological projects “end-to-end”, from generating ideas through to the marketing phase.
This opens up exciting careers in professions with promising perspectives for the future: entrepreneurs (start-uppers), innovative project managers (intrapreneurs), managers of technology development and innovation (CTO in charge of technical innovation and technology deployment).
The co-founders of SOLEN have taken advantage of all these assets to make a little place in the sun for themselves.