“We wanted to have impact beyond the academic world” Pierre-Yves Laffont of Lemnis Technologies on Making Your Research Matter

By Nasos Papadopoulos, EF Head of Content
18 September 2018

The quality of our companies is a function of our remarkable founders. This profile is part of a series of Founder Stories and features Pierre-Yves Laffont, CEO of Lemnis Technologies, a company that aims to make VR viable as the next computing platform by eliminating sensory conflicts in today’s technology.

1) What are the 3 most memorable moments of your EF journey? (and where did these take place — please give specific locations)

1) I met Alex Crompton (Singapore MD) in March 2016 at a university event for entrepreneurs. The EF programme in Singapore had not launched yet so Alex was still testing the waters and I was still an academic researcher. But that first discussion really excited me and it started the process of me joining the first cohort of EF Singapore

2) At the EF Kick-Off Weekend in July 2016 I had a chance to get to know the other cohort members, not just in terms of work skills but also as people. In one of the events over the weekend, we ended up roaming the streets of Singapore to complete various challenges. I had a great time getting to know everyone in a less formal situation…and my team also won the event!

3) Investor day and the two weeks leading up to it was a very intense experience. That’s when we finally got out of stealth mode and started getting ready to tell the world about what we were building. These were the two weeks that in which I learned the most from EF — it was definitely a roller coaster which made it good preparation for what was yet to come.

Pierre-Yves speaking to us at the Lemnis offices in Singapore

2) How did you meet your co-founder on the program?

Before the programme officially started there were a couple of networking events for the cohort members who had already been selected. One of these was at a fancy rooftop bar in Singapore, where I remember Roy from the EF team telling me “there’s someone I think you should talk with — you’ve definitely got some common interests.”

That someone was Ali, my future Co-Founder. A couple of days after Roy’s introduction, I visited Ali’s research lab and remember seeing this massive machine with lots of wires, which was an imaging device for soft tissues like the brain that he’d built all by himself!

I knew exactly what type of skills I was looking for in a co-founder and after meeting Ali, he just seemed like the perfect match — he’s an expert in hardware and even though I’m a software guy we were speaking the same language because we had both worked with light and cameras.

Beyond the fact we had complementary skills we also got along very well from day 1. We had the same goal in mind — we wanted to make an impact beyond the academic world and put our tech in the hands of people — and we also clicked on a personal level, which is why he’s also become a great friend.

We ended up starting a team together a week before the official start of EF Singapore and haven’t looked back since then.

3) What’s your favourite place in Singapore and why?

Our office on the east side of Singapore has to be my favourite place. It’s beautiful and spacious and we have a set of bay windows which bring in a lot of natural light.

We even have a swimming pool and jacuzzi on the rooftop, which is definitely one of the perks of being in Singapore! That’s not something I could have enjoyed when I was living in France or Korea.

We got the space right after we raised our seed round and moved in with just the two founders and our first employee. Now we are 8 full-time employees, plus a lot of interns over the summer. It’s amazing walking to the office every day and seeing the progress we’re making on a daily basis!

4) What drives you and how is your business an expression of that?

My drive comes from the desire to have a massive impact on the world through technology that will change the way we work and live. That’s a motivator that’s consistent across the team — half of us have PhDs and many wanted to have an impact beyond the academic world.

We’re also in an industry dominated by giants — pretty much all the big tech companies out there are getting involved in VR and AR. But this is just the beginning — VR and AR are still in their infancy and we’re building the foundations that will make it succeed.

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More on the Team

CEO Pierre-Yves Laffont is an expert in Computer Vision and Computer Graphics. He was a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich and Brown University, holds a PhD from INRIA, visited MIT, UC Berkeley, and NTU and has 15 international peer-reviewed publications.

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COO Ali Hasnain has an award-winning PhD from NUS with a wide range of expertise in optics, imaging, medical devices and robotics. He has over 8 years of experience building multidisciplinary solutions both in academia and industry.

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