Paul-Frédéric Viès – Co-founder of Voxtrot

[quote style=”boxed”]Just do it. There is always a zillion reasons why this and that will hypothetically not work out. Don’t let it turn you off, the road you take as an entrepreneur is a bumpy one, for sure, but it’s also an extremely exciting one. Life is too short to waste in a cubicle. With a lot of heart, will and fighting spirit I have absolutely no doubt that anyone can make it as an entrepreneur. Choose what you like, share your ideas and put them in motion![/quote]

In 2005 Paul-Frédéric Viès graduated from the University of Lausanne with a Master in Economic Sciences. In the summer of 2009 he quit his job as a business and strategy consultant to setup Voxtrot.com the free mobile network, his first enterprise.

The idea to create Voxtrot came from two simple observations. As a frequent traveler with family and friends scattered around the globe, he noticed that he was still being charged arbitrarily high tariffs by his traditional mobile operator to make roaming and mobile calls abroad. Hereby the existing mobile IP telephony solutions available on the market where both offering poor quality services and where often not adapted properly to mobile devices. Popular PC soft phones duplicated the concept “as is” on mobile devices, offering consumers a phone in a phone.

The Bottom line according to Paul-Frédéric Viès was that existing businesses where not exploiting technology and customization possibilities offered by smartphones at their maximum potential.

That was the opportunity. Create a mobile VoIP client that is specifically designed and build for smartphones. Paul-Frédéric Viès then convinced his friend Marco Ricca, a Geneva based entrepreneur specialized in internet security (founder of http://www.satorys.com/)  to join him in the venture to create the world’s 1st seamlessly integrated mobile VoIP client. After gathering a group of investors for funding the company they recruited Khaled Tlili a highly skilled programmer with experience in VoIP and set-out to develop the 1st prototype of Voxtrot.

They reckoned that the exponential growth of Android based smartphones offered great opportunities.  So unlike most companies who start by developing apps on IOS Paul-Frédéric decided they should start programming on Google’s mobile operating system, Android.

After 18 month of research, development and product optimization Voxtrot released the 1st version of its state-of-the-art mobile VoIP product in February 2011. With the company, website and product finally off the ground the company is expecting its community to grow exponentially over the coming year. Paul-Frédéric believes that the intensification of marketing efforts and the release of Voxtrot on the iPhone and other popular operating systems at the end of the summer will make them grow into a world class leader in the mobile IP telephony segment.

What are you working on right now?

We’re improving the sound engine of our great mobile VoIP solution and making sure the Voxtrot iPhone release candidate is ready for the end of the summer. Sound quality and coverage of all popular mobile devices are critical success factors in our line of business. We’re also working on the looks and re-engineering of our web-platform and forum. We have a brand new website coming up, stay posted.

What does your typical day look like?

Land in our Zürich office 8h30-9ish, cup of coffee, read mails and check favorite news sites and blogs. Morning telco with partners in Russia. More Nespressos. Set targets for the day/week. Work down task list 1 by 1 till 8 or 9.  Broken down like this it sounds pretty boring. It’s not. Trust me.

3 trends that excite you?

  • All Smartphone related innovations: apps, games, mobile payment methods that improve our lives
  • Augmented reality
  • Paul likes Social media driven revolutions against tyranny

How do you bring ideas to life?

Curiosity and passion drive your ideas, obsession, endurance and action will bring them to life. But the most important thing is not to be scared of failure. As Teddy Roosevelt once said “it is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed”.

What inspires you?

People like Narayan Krishnan, the Indian chef who gave it all up to dedicate his life to the ones in need.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Mmmh where should I start. Obviously I make a lot of them, but if there is one I’ve learned wise lessons from. It’s probably no to trust more experienced people blindly, simply because they are older and have spent more time “in the game”. Of course one should be avid to learn from others but if you have great ideas and your intuition tells you to go one way, never be scared to stand your ground, no matter who’s standing in front of you. Business and entrepreneurship are not exact sciences, it’s not black and white, don’t be cocky, but be confident, trust yourself and your instincts.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

There is no need to constantly re-invent the wheel. Every day when I read the paper or walk into a store I say to myself, I would do this and that differently. I mean Starbucks didn’t invent Coffee and Google didn’t invent search algorithms. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants. Think about it.

What do you read every day, and why?

I like to cover different angles so I check both local and global news. I’m mainly interested in international affairs, technology, music and sports. Amongst others I’ll scout through the headlines of: The Huffington post, Techcrunch, the Onion, the Guardian, Minutebuzz, Lefigaro, Geenstijl, nu.nl, Marca, FAZ, Lemonde and many more. After six I allow myself a good share of failblog! J

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

Millions of copies have already been sold and a lot has already been said about this book but I would still like to recommend Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner. Maybe because I’m an economist or maybe because it shows you how to look at things from a different angle. Causality between events is not always as obvious as one might think. There are facts but there are also “other” facts. Nothing is what it seems. True Wisdom.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

My Nexus One for sure. In general I’m a big fan of simple apps and programs that just do what they’re supposed to do, not more, not less. No matter how simple. That’s why I use http://teuxdeux.com/ to plan my daily activities.

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

@Terry_World, because the world according to photographer Terry Richardson looks rough but real. Writer, comic and true libertarian

@SethMacFarlane, because Family Guy and American Dad rock.

@RovioMobile, because I bet you’d never have bet on these guys two years ago. Angry Birds and the guys at Rovio are simply brilliant.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Chris Sacca.

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.

Listening to one of the tirades of lawyer “Saul Goodman” (played by Bob Odenkirk) in one of the last episodes of Breaking Bad season 3.

What do you want to say to people who are thinking of starting their own business?

Just do it. There is always a zillion reasons why this and that will hypothetically not work out. Don’t let it turn you off, the road you take as an entrepreneur is a bumpy one, for sure, but it’s also an extremely exciting one. Life is too short to waste in a cubicle. With a lot of heart, will and fighting spirit I have absolutely no doubt that anyone can make it as an entrepreneur. Choose what you like, share your ideas and put them in motion!

How do you blow off steam in your free time?

I like a good restaurant and a fine bottle of wine. Sport wise I love to go wake boarding or rafting during the summer. In the winter I’ll go snowboarding in the Alps. If circumstances are right, I try to take off to the Atlantic surfing for at least a week a year.

Connect with Voxtrot:

http://voxtrot.com/beta/
Voxtrot on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Voxtrot/120920177937433
Voxtrot on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/voxtrotter

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