C4 Founders Interview : TEMPOW
At C4 Ventures, we're product lovers, it's written big and bold on our website. But what really drives our investment decisions is the founders behind the product.
In order for people to know better the amazing entrepreneurs we've backed so far, we've launched a new series of interviews, starting with Tempow's amazing founders: Vincent Nallatamby, Julien Goupy and Thomas Girardier.
Read on to know more about them, why they have pineapples in the office, who's the shark and who's the "General" at Tempow!
Tell me what were you doing when you decided to build your startup? How did it all start? How did you get together?
Julien: It actually all started in Silicon Valley when the three of us were doing an entrepreneurship program in Berkeley as part of our studies. I knew Thomas from Polytechnique University, but we didn’t know Vincent. We had planned to go on a road-trip before the program started and that led to our meeting him.
Vincent: Yep, that’s when they met me! I also had a few days to spare before classes started but no driver’s license. We’d only talked for about 10 minutes before they suggested that I join the trip to Bryce Canyon, Death Valley etc…
Thomas: We had such a good time on that trip, and we came back knowing we wanted to do something together. We didn’t know how or what that would be, but we were convinced it would be fun and exciting.
Julien: Initially, Thomas and I had come up with an automatic water leak detector and had even built a functional prototype. But since we were all music fans, we decided to do something around audio instead. Gradually it developed into Bluetooth speakers, but we didn’t want to make just another speaker. We wanted to build something that would allow speakers to communicate — effectively bringing a Sonos-like experience with multiple speakers to a wider audience.
Who came up with the company name? Where did it come from?
Julien: So as you know, the legal name for the company is not Tempow but TAP. Very few people know where the name “TAP” came from.
Vincent: Actually, I don’t think we’ve ever told that story to anyone, but let’s tell it now!
When we started, we wanted to build a consumer electronics company. We envisioned it being an Apple competitor, so we gave it the code name “Pineapple”.
Pineapple is “Ananas” in French, so we decided to change the code name to “TAP” for “The Ananas Project”. It wasn’t until later on when we realized we needed a real company name that we changed to Tempow, which obviously goes well with audio. We ended up naming our first product TAP (Tempow Audio Profile), so it all came around full circle in the end!
And how has C4 Ventures helped you since the investment?
Vincent: Well, for example today, you’ve given us a lot of encouragement and inspiration regarding the branding and decoration of our new office! [Laughs]
But more seriously, we made a lot of progress during the fundraising process with you and Inès, you did a very deep dive into the business and the ecosystem in which we operate, and these discussions had an incredible impact on our strategy.
Because we had such a strong foundation thanks to those early conversations, we actually didn’t have to do to many strategic catch-ups after the raise. We were already very aligned on how we wanted to move forward and had successfully implemented a lot of the things we initially discussed.
Does Tempow have any special company traditions?
Thomas: We all still have a pineapple avatar!! That’s the only thing we kept from “The Ananas Project” so it means a lot to us.
Vincent: Every Wednesday evening we have game nights. We play PUBG, LOL etc., but tonight, it’s Futsal!! I’m coaching the team so I can make sure they’re playing football just as well as PUBG!
Julien: He’s got a long way to go!
Can you tell us the main reason that so many people are eager to join you and your amazing team?
Vincent: People definitely want to join for the tech, but also for the ambition. We don’t just build “good tech”, we also have plans to distribute it widely and play a larger role in the general tech industry.
Thomas: There’s definitely an aspirational aspect, and it’s true that everyone who works in tech at Tempow is really excellent. People want to work with the best of the best, and that’s what we offer at Tempow.
Julien: We’re not building just another mobile app or web-app. We are one of very few companies building deep tech, with the ambition to become a really big player in a huge industry.
The startup journey is full of ups and downs. What was the hardest part for you?
Julien: It was definitely the launch of our contract with Motorola last summer. It was a long, difficult process and it was also our first contract, which meant that we had to triple-check everything. If we were to do it again today it would be much easier having learned what we did through that process.
Vincent: I would also say the ups and down while fundraising were quite tough.
If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Vincent: We could have started working on the earbuds product earlier, instead of working on our TAP (Tempow Audio Profile) product. At the time we hadn’t realised that the opportunity and the technological advantage of earbuds were so big. But on the other end, TAP allowed us to generate our first stream of revenue and built the foundation for the next round of products.
Easy questions now:
Who has the crazy ideas?
Thomas: That’s easy, it’s Vincent! No real debate on this one.
Vincent: Actually, my ideas are not all crazy. Some of them led you to work on breakthrough innovations, some of which we have even patented!
Who moans the most?
Thomas: That’s me!
Vincent: Me too actually. Ok, both of us.
Who’s looking at the numbers?
Vincent: That’s me.
Who’s the nicest?
Thomas: That’s me.
Who’s the most ruthless, who’s the shark?
Vincent: Me of course
Who has the best nickname?
Julien: Well… the guy with whom I work the most calls me “The General”…
Finally, which other C4 Ventures company do you admire?
Vincent: For me it would be Anki. I’ve always had an interest in hardware and robotics, and what Boris’ team is doing there is really amazing.
Thomas: You have quite a few unicorns already at C4, which is really impressive since you’re a relatively new firm. I’d have to say Tempow is probably your next unicorn!
Vincent: Actually… can I invest 5,000 EUR in your next fund?
Last word ?
Vincent: These days, I listen to songs combining Rap and Jazz, so if any readers have recommendations let me know! And more seriously, I’m still looking for an amazing Technical Product Manager, someone deeply passionate about the consumer electronics space, with an amazing UX sense, and a strong technical understanding. If you have any lead, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org !