With over 25 years of experience in the Financial Sector across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, it seems unlikely to find someone like Luc Métivier in the startup space. Currently the chairman of Digit@lab, Luc initially got involved with Agua de Sol as an advisor. Originally from the Maghreb region, Luc understands the reality of water scarcity and concerns for the future. Understanding the potential of their product, he quit his position as CEO of an investment bank to join the team.
Now in his role at the helm of Agua de Sol, we had the opportunity to catch up with him at VivaTech.
1. Pursuing impact through startups
In our talk, Luc confronts the reality of a future in which we face the dreaded day-zero: a world of water scarcity. After understanding the potential of Agua de Sol’s technology in preventing such a dystopian future, he decided to join the company in a more permanent role. For Luc, this decision was easy to make because of the opportunity to make a direct impact.
He stresses how building a project in the startup space is more fulfilling in this way. Pursuing a corporate career demands excellence to make a true, large-scale difference: and even then, its quite rare. In his own words “as an investment banker, what could I do? […] Here, I can have an impact.”
2. From proof of concept to market launch
Agua de Sol is a company that offers a revolutionary solution to one of the world’s most pressing challenges: access to clean water. Luc explains how their product, the SunAir Fountain, uses solar power to convert atmospheric water into into fresh, potable water. Luc shares how Agua de Sol spent several years in moving from their proof of concept work to launching for market.
He shares insights for founders on how they navigated this transition in terms of research, patenting, and meeting regulations. He shares insight on how they chose to launch at the right moment to meet newer French market regulations which drive a demand for their product.
3. VivaTech: finding new places, new ideas, new partners
Luc explains how huge conferences like VivaTech offer startups the opportunity to both communicate with other innovation leaders, but also to learn more about the world and discover things that they would have otherwise never been found. “It is a fast changing world, and I need to understand these trends.”
Through exhibiting at VivaTech, they came to find new use cases for their product that they would never elsewise have known: such as in an underground location such as a wine cellar facing humidity problems. Given that the SunAir Fountain is easy to move once installed, after capturing excess humidity at night, the panels can be moved outside during the day to complete their water creating process in cycles.
4. Valuable advice for innovators
Towards the end of the conversation, Luc shares some invaluable advice for other innovators and founders. He encourages them to “focus on small targets, step-by-step.” He cautions against trying to leap-frog, which can lead to setbacks from which it can be difficult to recover, especially in certain countries. Luc’s advice reflects the wisdom of his experience and the reality of innovation – it is a journey that requires patience, persistence, and resilience: “Stop crying, work hard, there is a lot of support.”