Motion pilot is a startup created by EPFL students. This startup won the first price of the “Prix Start Lausanne” in April 2016.
HEConomist interviewed Timothée Peter, one of the co-founder of Motion Pilot to understand and discover how they made this project come to life.

HEConomist: In a few words, tell us more about your start-up?
MotionPilot: MotionPilot aims to revolutionize the way we interact with drones. Current remote controls have kept the same architecture developed half a century ago. The controls are unintuitive, complex and don’t provide any flight sensation.
With our remote control we offer the flight immersion experience in a compact, fun and intuitive way. MotionPilot brings emotions and pleasure back to the human-machine interaction.


HEConomist: Can you tell us about the genesis of your start-up? What was your original idea? How did it come up to you?
MotionPilot: The project was in the back of our head for quite some time. The original idea was to pilot a drone simply with hand movements. Being inspired by a PhD student’s master project, we decided to start developing our product. Soon, we realized that haptic feeling would add a dimension to the human-machine interaction. To this day, we have focused our strength to develop the best product we can.


HEConomist: What did you do to make this project come to life? (Financials, strategies…)
MotionPilot: First of all, hard work. We have put many hours of work to develop the prototype and we are learning everything on the go. We also focused on broadening our skills in the business side with, for example, the CTI entrepreneurship courses. We spoke to people about our idea and had the opportunity to develop the prototype in a lab at EPFL. Finally, we have put some time to participate to the START competition which allowed us to move forward with our business strategy.


HEConomist: Have you encountered some difficulties?
MotionPilot: Apart from creating the product itself, no.


HEConomist: How would you describe your state of mind?
MotionPilot: Driven. Motivated. Curious.


HEConomist: What are the main qualities required for successfully launching a start-up?
MotionPilot: First, there needs to be a demand for the product or the service developed.
Secondly, it is highly advantageous to have the core people required to develop the product in the team beforehand: engineers and designer for a product, web developer for a webplatform… This will allow you to change your product rapidly according to your market demand and will cost you less.
Thirdly, the team. The team will basically determine if your start-up will be successful or not. If you don’t feel like you are the most stupid person in your group, then there is something wrong.
Finally, have a prototype! You can speak thousand words about your idea, but once you show your prototype you will see the eyes of your interlocutor light up.


HEConomist: What are the errors you made? How to prevent them from happening?
MotionPilot: Go as fast as you can to your market to see if there is a need for what you offer. The worst thing is to develop a great product that nobody needs.


HEConomist: If you could change something what would it be?
MotionPilot: Spend more time on the product itself and show it to our potential customers sooner.


HEConomist: And now? What piece of advice would you give to someone before they start their own start-up?
MotionPilot: Don’t start with the idea of creating a start-up. Start by working on your passion. If you feel like there is anything you want to bring to the world, then a start-up is a tool to achieve this goal. But a start-up should not be seen as a goal in itself.


HEConomist: What does this experience bring you?
MotionPilot: It allows us to be completely free in our work and creative process. This is something you rarely get to experience in your studies or in your job.


HEConomist: What are your projects on the long term?
MotionPilot: We would like MotionPilot to be a catalyzer for the drone industry: to allow new people to enter the world of drones and experience in a fun and intuitive way what the drone technology has to offer.


HEConomist: How do you see the future of your start-up?
MotionPilot: More broadly, we see MotionPilot as a way to simplify and bring the emotions and the intuitiveness back to the human-machine interaction. Our interaction with machines has become mechanical. We adapted ourselves to the machines. But it does not have to be like that. MotionPilot could bring a new dimension to the human-machine interaction and make it human again.


HEConomist: Have you ever wanted to quit everything?
MotionPilot: No. Until now we were able to advance continuously on the project which kept the motivation going. We try to plan our strategy ahead to avoid facing unplanned obstacles.


HEConomist: Have you ever had the desire to sell your project?
MotionPilot: No. We started this project to gain experience and because we thought we could improve something in this world. Selling the project would just end this adventure abruptly. We feel like we are just getting started.


We want to thank MotionPilot for taking the time to answer to our questions.


Charles Gousset