An Interview with Entrepreneur Corentin Guillo

Corentin Guillo is the founder and CEO of Bird.i, a startup that strives to democratise the access to the best of the world's observation imagery. Corentin brings over 12 years of experience working with cutting-edge earth observation satellite technology together with a drive to bring its value and insights to all; individuals and businesses alike.

Corentin Guillo began his career in the space industry in France before moving to England in 2009, and then Scotland in 2016. Coretin always wanted to impact the world and quickly developed his vision into a business with a focus to innovate and disrupt downstream satellite technology applications and create a mass market for the world's most incredible images.

Corentin is passionate about bringing together people from different cultures, skills and experiences. By building a company rich with unique perspectives, he hopes to help create a culture that empowers people to outperform and excel.

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Devathon has built software for companies backed by the world's leading investors like Betaworks, Greylock, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, KPCB, Lightspeed and many more.

In an exclusive interview with Devathon, Bird.i founder and CEO Corentin Guillo traces his journey so far and his plans for the years ahead.

When did you first discover your entrepreneurial spirit and How is your entrepreneurial career developing so far?

My definition of being an entrepreneur is "When you’ve stopped waiting for others and decided to do it yourself.” As far as I can remember, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset; challenging the status-quo and making things happen.

What has been the biggest success and biggest failure stories you went through?

Biggest success: people
Biggest failure: people

As a founder, I do not build a business, but I build the team that build the business. And those same people who give me the big smile when I come to work every day, they keep me awake at night.

I have a fantastic team today, sharing the same values and working toward the same purpose, and that’s my most significant success so far. However, during that past few years, I have made bad hire who had a negative impact on the company culture and our development, and I should have let them go much sooner, and that’s my biggest failure.

How did you come up with the idea for bird.i and how did it all start?

I had the original idea for Bird.i when I started my career in the space industry and worked with Earth observation satellites. The images they were acquiring of our planet every day were just amazing, but unfortunately, only a handful of high-value customers had access to it.

This is at that same time that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft released for the first time their online mapping application with a satellite basemap, showing to the mass market the value of Earth observation imagery - who has never checked their next holidays resort in Google Maps to check what it looks like?

However, I realised very quickly that Google Maps satellite imagery was out of date and poor quality in many places, while new images were still acquired every day from the commercial satellite operators I was working with.

This is at that stage that I had the original vision to bridge that gap and to bring the value of fresh Earth observation imagery to the market. More than ten years later, this vision has realised with the creation of Bird.i, we even made it our mission: "We will make the world’s most incredible Earth observation images - and the insights they bring - accessible to absolutely everyone."

Tell us something about bird.i

Bird.i collates and disseminates the best of the world’s satellite, airborne and drone imagery in real time, to provide insights and data to businesses globally. The high quality, frequency and accuracy of Bird.i’s images are superior even to the likes of Google Maps, meaning that clients can efficiently monitor changes and trends on the ground, helping companies solve problems, make important decisions, gain competitive advantage and plan for the future.

What are your growth plans for the near future?

Bird.i has been growing steadily over the past couple of years, methodologically qualifying all the different market opportunities we identified until we’ve found our beachhead market with a clear problem we can address. Having now developed the solution for that problem, we will look at scaling-up in the adjacent markets we’ve parked during that journey, expanding our services on a global basis and across the value chain.

Looking back, what did you learn and what would you have done differently?

Being an entrepreneur is a continuous learning experience but there are a couple of things I’ve learnt that are worse pointing: the first one is that when it is hard, you struggle, you face problems after problems, there are not that many people around to help you; but if you succeed and have some positive results, there are a lot of people who will try to take the credit for it.

The second one is about chance; there is no room for chance in your entrepreneurship journey, it is all about execution, failing fast and learning faster. When things come together, and you deliver, again you’ll hear people saying you’ve been lucky, but you know deep inside you this is not luck, but the hard work you’ve put in it.

In your opinion, what are the hurdles that keep people away from starting an entrepreneurial career? What advice would you give to the new entrepreneurs?

Timing!

The timing needs to be right on a personal perspective for somebody to take this big leap of faith which is the creation of a new venture. Indeed, the level of commitment and efforts you have to put in requires the full support of your family, friends and anybody who care about you. Because it will consume your days, nights, holidays if you take any and your relationships will suffer from it… but hopefully, prevail either you are successful or not.

If I have one advise to give for new entrepreneurs it would be not to focus on the What or the How, but on the Why and don’t take no for an answer ;)

Are you an entrepreneur looking for your MVP built? Get in touch with us at hello@devathon.com

Devathon has built software for companies backed by the world's leading investors like Betaworks, Greylock, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, KPCB, Lightspeed and many more.