Eric Bouchard is the founder of Wallcast, a tech startup reinventing the computer wallpaper by turning it into a social digital photo frame. Wallcast has garnered rave reviews from the blogosphere, most notably: Mashable featured it as a “Spark of Genius”, The Next Web gave it a “Two Thumbs Up” rating, Springwise selected it as one of the “Brightest New Business Ideas”.
Before creating Wallcast, Eric co-founded Copernic Technologies in 1996, where he was instrumental in building Copernic’s 40M+ user base and creating its award-winning web search products. Prior to being sold to a NASDAQ-listed company in 2005, Copernic gave birth to Coveo Solutions, now a worldwide enterprise solution provider. As VP and company officer until 2008, Eric successfully managed Copernic’s private label partnerships with major industry players such as AOL, France Telecom and T-Online.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently putting most of my time into building Wallcast as a product and a business. After almost a year of somewhat reclusive development, it’s exciting to be out in the real world with thousands of people actually trying the product, spreading the word and providing us with feedback. It gives me a lot of energy to keep going when users from all over the world tell us that they don’t just like the product, they “love” it – especially as Wallcast is just getting started.
3 trends that excite you?
1. The incredibly rapid shift towards mobile computing. These web-enabled, location-aware and camera equipped devices in our pockets will continue to change our lives dramatically. And it’s reshaping the whole tech industry as well.
2. The virtualization and globalization of the workplace. In the last few months, I have worked with partners/suppliers in Canada, the United States and in Europe. It’s easier than ever to find and collaborate with the best talents regardless of their location.
3. The growing mentality that everyone can be an entrepreneur. In the online world, the barrier to starting a company is getting lower every day. What’s great is that there are so many building blocks readily available (and often free) that you can use to create your business.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By putting them in writing or representing them visually. This avoids a lot of misunderstandings and gives partners/colleagues time to think about my ideas, improve them and get things going with clarity.
What inspires you?
As someone who creates software and websites, I love to watch how people from all generations use their computers, their mobile devices and the web. Their frustrations and their expectations are often quite different than mine. I find it very enlightening and it helps me see things differently.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
Keeping people who were only just good enough for the job because the task of replacing them seemed too daunting. I recently heard someone say that managers should see themselves as editors of their team, constantly reviewing and tweaking it. I have promised myself to keep that in mind for future ventures.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We need a solution that automatically keeps track of how we are spending our time. The data and the technology are there. My computer can easily know when and on what I am working. It can tell if I am casually browsing or visiting work-related sites. My GPS-enabled cell phone knows whether I am commuting or at the gym. Mint.com helps to keep track of your money and optimize how you spend it. This new product would be an equivalent, but for your time. People would pay for this.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
Book: I liked the book “Rework” by the 37signals guys. It’s not perfect but, overall, it’s a good reminder of how to execute with a no nonsense approach.
Tool: The good old pen and paper combo is underrated. Being offline forces you to boil down your ideas before jumping into execution mode too quickly. To iterate on my hand drawn sketches, I use a great piece of software called Balsamiq Mockups.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Avner Ronen, co-founder of Boxee. I like their product a lot and I would be curious to learn more about where he is coming from.
What would be your best productivity tip?
Disable all types of instant notifications (sounds, popups, vibrations) on your computer and your cell phone. It ruins your concentration and most people can do without (is it really that urgent?). It’s a pity that these alerts are all enabled by default in modern computers/devices.
What do you do when you are not working?
Travel as much as possible. My wife and I have visited over 20 countries and we have no plans to stop. If it’s impossible for me to take time off work, I travel anyway and work from another country. Simply being elsewhere, in another culture, is inspiring.