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Portrait of a founder: Yassine Tahi, CEO of Kinetix

Posted:
23 February, 2021

Our platform brings together exceptional individuals without existing teams, businesses or investment, and gives them the tools to meet their ideal co-founder and build an impactful startup.

Yassine Emile Tahi is one of these exceptional individuals.

Yassine is the co-founder and CEO of Kinetix, a company built through our fourth Paris cohort.

Together with his co-founder Henri Mirande, Kinetix have developed an AI SaaS product that automates 80% of the manual work involved in animation. 

The idea for the business was born when the team noticed that the animation process, for games and films, was a bottleneck in the entertainment industry. Production was not meeting growing demand for fresh content.

Yassine and Henri’s goal is to revolutionise 3D animation by making it faster and more accessible. Their technology allows even the smallest of studios and individuals to optimise 3D animation.

Kinetix's technology in action.

Having previously set up a VC fund in Morocco and worked with the CEO of Jumia at only 22 years old, EF came at the perfect time and place for Yassine.

He had the knowledge and insight, but he needed to leave everything to be able to begin the start-up process.

Yassine’s experience of EF took place during the COVID-19 pandemic – meaning he met his co-founder and built Kinetix completely remotely. 

Here, he reflects on the impact this setting had on building a startup, and the advice he’d give to founders considering building in the future.

What's the EF platform like?

Our platform nurtures individuals with exceptional talent and ambition to test out ideas and working relationships, to find the ideal co-founder, and build world-changing startups.

Yassine started EF with three things in mind:

  1. He wanted to work on artificial intelligence as SaaS, but not biotech or hardware.
  2. He was interested in fintech and the global entertainment industry.
  3. He wanted to find a co-founder in the same frame of mind as him, who was ready to set up a start-up, and had left everything behind to maximise their chances of testing as many options as possible.

“My methodology was to find someone who mastered AI, to think about common industries that we liked, and contact people from these industries to define the potential pain points. We would then ask, 1) Is the problem that we want to solve big enough? And 2)  Are we the right team to find a solution to this problem?”

Although the cohort was conducted virtually, Yassine credits the EF rhythm, an intense 3 months of working 7 days a week, and a lot of sleepless nights with the success of Kinetix. 

Being supported by advisors, who challenge you to see if you are the right person to found a company and prepare you for a VC pitch, coupled with high pressure and tight timing is, in Yassine’s opinion, beneficial to the building of a company.

“Entrepreneur First provides legitimacy to their investor network at a very early stage. The first €90K is a snowball effect for many other things; it’s a positive signal on the market and unlocks many other grants, subsidies and investments.”

How can you find the right co-founder?

Yassine didn’t start working with Henri at first. He began his start-up story with another founder, with a focus on media and e-commerce-  however, they never found a problem big enough to build a world-changing company on.

After breaking up with his first co-founder, Yassine worked on his own for two weeks, pitching a Fintech project to other cohort members.

Yassine and Henri
Yassine and Henri

“The human fit between Henri and I was good. He had the skills I was looking for  – but he didn’t want to do Fintech. He was more interested in gaming and entertainment.”

Henri and Yassine had both left everything to build a company and did not have a plan B. They were 100% invested in the project, and 100% invested in working together. They addressed their co-founding relationship head on with a list of “hard-questions”, to be clear about their scope and division of tasks from Day 1. 

From here, they began extensive market research, identified the problem they needed to solve, and validated their wish to get into the entertainment industry.

“I have great confidence in Henri and the more we move forward, the more that confidence continues to grow.”

What is it like to build a start-up remotely?

In the Spring of 2020 the world was in lockdown. 

Many industries were struggling, and the global economy fell into recession. Most people would view this as a hostile environment to build a company –  but for Yassine, it was advantageous.

“Covid was an opportunity. We positioned ourselves in an industry positively impacted by the pandemic. Production had slowed down, while demand had accelerated.”

Like many start-up giants such as Uber, Airbnb, Mailchimp and Groupon, Kinetix was able to take advantage of the unique insight a global disruption gave into how the world is changing.

“We spotted a lot of problems, and we looked at how the technology mastered by Henri could solve them.”

Covid also offered total flexibility to the founding of a start-up. It manifested a workspace that was completely remote and has allowed Kinetix to become a global company, with the office space becoming 100% digital. Yassine is able to work from anywhere in the world, as can his team.

Top tips for founding a company

Yassine has always been ambitious in whatever he undertakes. He had wanted to build a company for a while, spending his weekends working on side projects. But he’d felt confined by the trajectory of consulting. Leaving his job was the best way to give his ambition a chance.

He shared with us his advice for anyone considering the move into entrepreneurship:

  1. Be committed to building your company:

“You have to think carefully beforehand about why you want to start a business and what you bring as a founder… It’s a very personal choice to build a company. You have to be convinced when you do it.”

  1. Convince others that you are worth investing in and working with:

“It’s very important to market yourself well – to potential co-founders, business partners, hires and investors”

“You have to accept to separate yourself personally from your company… Everyone gives their opinion. You have to contextualise this, and take what there is to take.”
  1. Tackle an industry that you are deeply interested in and build a product that you love:

“You have to be ready to embody and represent this project in this industry for years – make sure it’s one you’re passionate about.

  1. Building a start-up takes time, and a lot of that time is out of your control. Be efficient with what you have:

You need a methodology on ideation and to prioritise your ideas … some things take a lot longer than you can imagine. There are temporalities which do not necessarily depend on us.”

  1. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get the results you want. You can’t please everyone and get it right every time:

“You have to accept to separate yourself personally from your company… Everyone gives their opinion. You have to contextualise this, and take what there is to take.”

  1. There is no negative to giving it a go and joining EF to begin your startup:

“Don’t see taking time to build a company as a potential big gap in your career. Give yourself the time to think about it and a deadline to achieve your objective. If you choose to apply to, and are selected to come to EF, it’s because you are one of the best in the industry. 

If it fails, in any case this experience will open many doors with EF alumni and network.”

Applications our open for our next cohorts in Paris, London and Berlin

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