Victoir Bouin (Exoflow): “The business plan is that there is no business plan! You have to try things out and see if they work…”

Jul 20, 2018

Designing change in a changing world: that is the business of Exoflow, a company that proposes a design thinking methodology to spur innovation, through trial and error, in the business world. Its credo? Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” in the words of Samuel Beckett. We met with Exoflow’s co-founder, Victor Bouin (Grande Ecole Program, I.D.E.A. track 2018).

Tell us about Exoflow…

Exoflow is a company specialized in creativity and innovation. It aims to help companies build and nurture a culture of innovation. To do this, we use design thinking, a set of methods and tools to approach innovation from an experimentation and design perspective. The goal is to learn by doing. At the start there is an idea, which is improved upon thanks to feedback from users, and changes are made along the way if necessary. The design is tailored to the way the product or service is used.  

Have you got an example for us?

A client sends out an initial brief: reinvent the car for the world of tomorrow. First comes the discussion phase. We conclude that the car will no longer be simply a means of transport, but rather a living space and that, alongside this, the driving experience must be enhanced. We bring together these two ideas to make the car safer and at the same time bring more driving pleasure. As a result, rather than having cars emit warning sounds to drivers, we have devised a system using vibrations. This leads to a faster response time which, in turn, enhances the perception of the road and increases safety for all roadway users (pedestrians, drivers and cyclists). We also imagine a system that will enable the car to drift. The car will tell the driver when the conditions are right to drift in a curve. The wheels will naturally fall into the right position and the driver will feel the steering wheel shake, like on a video game joystick.

How was Exoflow founded?

Through the Smart UP association we held hackathons, particularly with emlyon’s Hack Business School. Later, we put on a series of TedXemlyon conferences. Starting in the 2nd year of the campaign we had around 50 events a year. This allowed us to meet many entrepreneurs, company heads and others. That’s how we came up with the idea for Exoflow. Today, we train our client companies’ staff on disruptive innovation and we are managing the setup of the Groupama Rhône-Alpes Crealab, a modular space for creative thinking that aims to foster innovation.  

How did your time at emlyon business school steer your career?

The advice and resources I got through the I.D.E.A. track were very enriching. It even skewed my way of looking at things: now, I see the potential for “disruption” in everything, with the eyes of a designer. We were taught to bounce back from our failures and to capitalize on opportunities along the way. The Fab Lab was also really valuable in helping us get started.

What does “early makers” mean to you?

It all comes down to three words: “inspire”, “try” and (sometimes) “succeed”.

An entrepreneur who inspires you?

It may be a bit of a cliché, but Elon Musk is very, very good. You tell him it’s impossible, he doesn’t care and he follows through with his ideas. He keeps pushing forward even if he fails. And he is always one step ahead. You say planet Earth is on the road to destruction? He’s thinking about how to colonize Mars!

A quote?

I would say, “The business plan is that there is no business plan!” You have to try things out and see if they work. You can never be sure of anything.


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