Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Philippe Guichard (@pgguichard) Philippe started his first design studio when he was 22.
He worked with great companies, CEOs, and marketers, which helped evolve his vision of design: thoughtful design with marketing and a business model. This thinking and methodology have expanded to environmental sustainability and positive social impact. Today, Philippe’s vision is to design for the Triple Bottom Line (TBL).
He has launched numerous successful products – a feat, which is also helped by his background in mechanical engineering. In 2013 he founded his Melbourne design studio, D2 Design, and Development. Philippe is also the founder of Cablestop, a cable management device, which was successfully funded on Kickstarter.
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Miko Santos: (02:23)
Welcome to the Bootstrap Podcast under Auspod Syndicate. How are you today?
Philippe Guichard: (02:28)
I’m very Well, thank you so much for inviting me today.
Miko Santos: (02:31)
So our audience and our listeners as well. Can you tell us about yourself?
Philippe Guichard: (02:37)
Sure. So, I’m a industrial designer from trade, I would say, but, I always had a bit of a different angle, different spin on how to do industrial design. So if you look back in time, um, I had two degrees, one in mechanical engineering and one in industrial design, and that allowed to have a better understanding of the process of mass manufacturing, which meant that everything that I was catching I was about, I was able to, manufacturer, well, I knew how to, how to manufacture. So that gave me an edge from day one. And then after 28 years now in the industry, I did a couple of other skills and develop a very specific methodology, especially for startups and founders and entrepreneurs.
Miko Santos: (03:29)
I’m very curious, Philipe, on, on this idea, transforming ideas into a million dollar products. Can you elaborate that? So I’m very curious about that one.
Philippe Guichard: (03:41)
Okay. So a lot of people have ideas and if you really actually execute on them and in a domain of physical product, when people call hardware, product or product design in hardware or physical products, uh, is probably the risky as a venture. You can probably do at that current time in context. if you think the failure rate in small business is high, the failure rate in hardware and physical product is even higher and there are numerous reasons for that. Um, one is it’s it’s by nature, difficult and too there are a lot of common mistakes being made even today. And so my goal is to really help entrepreneurs avoid all the main and the obvious mistakes so that they de-risked their venture. So that’s what I mean when I’ve turned it into million dollar products. it’s something that I’ve achieved in the past and keep achieving, but mostly it’s about de-risking the venture and the entrepreneur avoid the main pitfalls.
Miko Santos: (04:44)
All right. So let’s go back. So you started your first design studio ,when you are 22. Can you tell me how it started?
Philippe Guichard: (04:53)
The beginning, we’re very humble. So I just had my, my degree under my belt and my full you as a student. And at that time they were a bit of an economic downturn, at least in France, which meant that I was just trying to get a job at the beginning. And I went from one studio to the other and to say, okay, well, do you have a nice porfolio and not like what you’re doing, but we were currently firing industrial designers. So there’s no way we’re going to hire you anytime soon. And I thought, okay, that’s fine. And what I just did is I just went out there and studying, knocking on doors and say, okay, well, you know, if you do manufacturing and I wasn’t area where there were still a fair bit of manufacturing, as, I mean, if you do manufacturing, I’m a designer.
Philippe Guichard: (05:37)
I understand engineering. I think I kind of re helping you. And that’s how the whole venture studied. And what I mean, humble beginnings is their first client, I landed, I didn’t have absolutely any money or any equipment. So I had to ask for a deposit so that I can buy some markers and some so that I could sketch and then move to the next phase. And I had another, they put it on a bit of money so that I can hire some CAD stations and do the CAD design to, you know, fulfill the project needs and everything. So very humble beginnings.
Miko Santos: (06:13)
So on 2000, I think you’ve done a Ted talk about triple bottom line. So my question is that this one is, you said we can do better, be better change the way to design and consume. All we need is a mind shift. Can you elaborate that?
Philippe Guichard: (06:33)
Yeah, I can dive into that. So it’s, it’s a kind of a very funny paradigm I have observed and it’s, you know, in the last 20, 25 years something, so the paradigm is the following. If you’re an entrepreneur and you think that protecting the environment is an additional cost, then it will land as an additional cost. And then you will lower your profit margin and you won’t be happy, but if you take it in a different mindset, a different perspective, you think, protecting the environment is something that we have to do, and it’s an opportunity to do and design better. Then, you find solutions, ideas, concepts that you wouldn’t have thought of before because you have this kind of open mind. And very often you have a better and higher profit margin. So just to dive a tiny bit on this one many years ago, I’ve designed a product for a company that was needing insulation and we were required to do, um, environmental impact.
Philippe Guichard: (07:38)
And we tried a mythological cradle to cradle. And the idea of that methodology is to lower the environmental impact and have a more sustainable product by doing so. And by also creating other value proposition, we had the product that had four times the profit margin on any other product in the rain. So it’s not one or the other. It’s like, okay, if I do environmental, then I’m going to lose something. It that’s not, that’s not it at all. It’s just, you know, if you jump into that space and then think differently and find different opportunities, then you can have a good product that is respectful and make money.
Miko Santos: (08:19)
What is your help and tips or advice to an individual who is wanting to start up a business?
Philippe Guichard: (08:25)
So My specialty is physical products, so I wouldn’t be able to answer for other ventures like digital, you know, but the main advice is get started and it could be a side hustle. It could be a weekend, you know, every now and then spend a bit of time. But by all means, please get started thinking about an idea, won’t bring you any long-term benefit, but if you really start acting on your idea and maybe getting a bit of advice and moving forward, and, you know you don’t need to, when, when you walk through a fog, you don’t need to know exactly where you’re going. You just need to put one step in front of the other and then discover what’s going to happen. And, and, you know, along the way, you’ll figure things out. But my first advice is to really please really get studied. It’s an exciting journey, very exciting journey. And that’s the first, the second one has been, be asked for help. He doesn’t mean, you know, uh, necessarily, industrial designer, but it could be a mentor. It could be someone that’s been in business long enough. It could be, you know, the business partner that compliments your own skills, but, you know, having a bit of support on the is, is quite, quite nice.
Miko Santos: (09:39)
Have you experienced imposter syndrome when you’re starting up as an entreprenuers.
Philippe Guichard: (09:45)
No, not really, sometime I was questioning myself. He said, I thought you said the right thing to do and everything, but I, because of the methodology, I was do something and then check if it’s, you know, suitable valid, valuable. So it tends to the process tends to validate itself. And because I’m a man of action too it does reduce that risk of impostor syndrome. Um, did I, I may have had imposter syndrome as a speaker, for example. cause that’s something new that I added to my skills later. I’m just, you know, I started like five years ago. so that’s something that would be new. And maybe a couple of times when I went on stage, I wasn’t, you know, I’m at ligit to be here or something, but again, it’s, it’s not so much about me. It’s about the outcome and how you can inspire people. It’s about the audience. So the inspire imposter syndrome, you find if you have it dissolved very, very quickly because it’s ultimately, it’s not really about you. So,
Miko Santos: (10:58)
So you saying that you starting doing some speaking engagement. What do you think of entrepreneurs? Is that a good thing as entrepreneurial have additional skills, like being a speaker is a good thing.
Philippe Guichard: (11:18)
Well maybe you don’t have to be a keynote speaker if you’re an entrepreneur, but knowing the skills of, um, public speaking is definitely, definitely a big advantage, and you see that on, you know, pitch night for startups and everything, you have some time to a technical entrepreneur is going to talk about the features of this product or, you know, and, and that’s frankly, it’s, it’s annoying unless you’re a technician is same exact industry and you have some common interests for most people. It’s very annoying, but what’s not annoying is telling a story. You know, you can tell that you have an app that connects people and everything, and you can tell about the algorithm and the AI that’s going to help generate all that. And all you can say, okay we have this app that knows where your family is and it’s, it’s kind of a map that’s going to invest investigating your own whole family and your whole ecosystem around that and find and ping the people so that you can start having a conversation with a family that you forgot about. That’s the story. And that’s more interesting. So it’s, it’s, you don’t have to be a key military. You don’t have to be on stage, but knowing the skills and the craft of telling the story, that’s something that entrepreneurs maybe you should learn.
Miko Santos: (12:46)
So they have to have a good like a public speaking so that they can tell the story of their startup. That’s my, yeah,
Philippe Guichard: (12:55)
Definitely Miko. Yeah. I think, tell me knowing how to tell a story. That’s, that’s definitely a plus.
Miko Santos: (13:03)
So do you think that innovation today is different than it was 10 years ago?
Philippe Guichard: (13:11)
I would say in principle, no. Cause you know, innovation is always trying to find something new and something to be better and more relevant to the time. and yes, because there are new things happening because there are, there’s a new pace. I think seeing things accelerating, a beat and even in product design and, there is also new tools. So you have tools today that we didn’t have a few years ago. And, um, and I think those tools like, you know, AR VR and they’re going to keep increasing and getting better so that we can innovate maybe quicker, but also more collaboratively.
Miko Santos: (14:01)
Sorry, can you tell us about the cablestop that you have? So the company that you have right now
Philippe Guichard: (14:10)
Yeah, definitely. So the cablestop was created by our studio. So it’s a small cable management device such as this, and it helps secure your own cables on your desk. So the whole idea of cablestop is to do a good job. Like he has to be what I call thoughtful design. And when you have cablestop, you can have cables of different size on your desk. You just have to put that on your cables and it’s going to adapt to the height. So you don’t have to do anything. He’s very intuitive. It’s very quick, it’s very efficient. And the other thing that differentiate cablestop from other cable management devices is that it doesn’t lock you in one place. And these days when we need to work from home and then the next day we need to work in the office. And then the next day we leave work in the living room and not in the kitchen anymore.
Philippe Guichard: (14:59)
You need to have that flexibility and cable stuff really brings that that’s for the technicalities I would say, of the product, but more than that cable stuff also, he’s the embodiment of the triple bottom line. So it’s people, planet and profit cable stuff is manufactured in Europe. And, and I know the place and the people that manufacture cablestop . And I know how it benefits this small ecosystem over there. And it’s been it’s been designed with sustainability in mind. So a few aspect of cable stuff is that it’s long lasting. It’s not a product that’s going to collapse or break up to, you know, three or six months. you, you’re going to have cables of the next 20 years. And it’s also part of the circular economy, meaning that at the end of the life cycle, you just dismantled a product and then you can reuse the material. And because there is no mechanical constraints, specifically, the material does pretty much as good as new and then can reenter the security of mass manufacturing.
Miko Santos: (16:01)
So next question I have is about the triple bottom line. So can you elaborate, can you explain to us what is the triple bottom line and how did you formulate this, how it started?
Philippe Guichard: (16:12)
So I, I’m not the one who formulated the coin, the triple bottom line expression. But the bottom, the triple bottom line is people, planet and profit. You, we all know that all business has run with their bottom line as a, as a goal. Um, and that’s, that’s just money, but money doesn’t bring anything else than just money itself. And, and because of the economies that coined the term externalities, it means that when you run the business, you have externalities, which is everything that is beyond your control and you don’t have to care about, but those externalities are causing pollution, causing distress or causing social tensions, inequalities, and all that. And I think that’s one of the major flow of the current system. I think we need to re address that. So the whole idea of the triple bottom line is to kind of a cost correctly.
Philippe Guichard: (17:09)
So you need to of course make profit because that’s important. You need that to sustain the company that you care about, but you also need to care about people in the planet depleting the environment and, and not caring about the environment. That’s, that’s an issue. And people say that the current pandemic that we are witnessing is you have the impact, the human impact on the environment. We’ve been really seeing the ecosystems for animals, and that creates a promise quity that leads to various crossing the barrier from animals to human. So it makes sense to care for the environment. And also there is a social impact and the social impact is not necessarily having a social enterprise. Social impact for me is to care about the people that are in the ecosystems of the product that you’re manufacturing or sending. And you have, of course your suppliers, you have the wholesaler, the distribution, the retail. So there are many, many people when you’re really too closely. And the idea of the social impact is how can I make their life better ?
Miko Santos: (18:16)
Is this triple bottom line can be a use for their start up.
Philippe Guichard: (18:21)
Yeah, definitely because it can give you a point of differentiation. and it’s also the factor of innovation. So instead of producing the same device that you had somewhere else, and you wanted to just copy and paste and, and dropship, or, you know, do the current I’m as on the entrepreneur thing, um, you can also think it’d be deeper and say, okay, what, what can I bring? What could you value in that market that hasn’t been done yet? And then you can think about the impact and because of that, you’re going to design and think about your business differently, doing so you’re going to have a different value proposition and some people will definitely.
Miko Santos: (18:59)
So one of, I see one you’ve been practicing meditation for over twenty-five years now, is that how it started for that meditation? How did you, yeah,
Philippe Guichard: (19:13)
I can tell you the, starting point I used to be diagnosed as a hyper anxious, uh, teenager. So in a nutshell, everything will freak me out. Like I would get super anxious very, very quickly about pretty much anything and, and anxiety. Just about the mind, you’re telling yourself stories and your mind is spinning around stories and its stories and more stories. And I moved to Canada to study industrial design, and that was the big dream of my life. Like design was the thing I really, really deeply and heartfully wanted to do. And after one month of studying at uni university, I had I’ve lost hope, um, and sleep. because I was decent in English, my English was good, but not good to the point of understanding the art language required in design courses. So it meant that when we, um, when I was having a design course, I understand very, very little.
Philippe Guichard: (20:16)
And because of that, I was very, very stressed because I really wanted to achieve, and I had no clue about what the teacher was saying. So because of that stress, I starting to lose sleep. And, and one of my neighbors at, um, the residence was studying neuropsychology and brain you know, brain functions. And one night I just knock on his door and I said, okay, you studying the brain you probably know a couple of things about, you know, how, how this works. I can’t sleep anymore. I’m too stressed. Why should I do it? And he’s replying was, okay. It was very simple. And he’s either you take a pill or your calm, your mind and practice meditation and answered. I don’t like taking pills. I’m going to try the other thing. And that’s how the journey started. The journey started with practicing mindfulness. And the idea is to kind of control your mind, but not in the military physical sense of control. It’s controlled with openness. The more you’re open your mind, the more your mind is patient. The more control you have over your mind. And then you’re a pre hand. Then you move into the world with a different sense or different flavor, I would say. So that’s how the journey started.
Miko Santos: (21:36)
So the reason I’m asking that question about meditation, because being an entrepreneurs , Do you experience a burnout as intrepreneurs and how you cope with that?
Philippe Guichard: (21:48)
I did I did experience a couple of burn downs in my career in the last 28 years. Um, it’s, I think it’s, it’s a matter of, being too involved with your own creation or something. So you, you, you, you work long hours sometime and you just want to succeed and, and put the energy and, and if you don’t pay attention, you can also erode your mental state and your also your physical state. And so there are a couple of times in my life where I didn’t pay enough attention to that. And I, I didn’t have the proper burnout, but I got really tired and I had to step back reassess the situation and take control again of my life, the diet, the exercise, the mindfulness, and all that. So in that regard I think meditation can really bring a number of benefits. One is you have a better awareness of where you’re at and, and I think you can go close to the burnout, but he kind of probably stopped before things get really bad because you sense that there’s something off and you need to do something about it.
Miko Santos: (22:57)
So next question I have is aside from the burnout. Okay. So any other challenges to your entreprenuer journey?
Philippe Guichard: (23:08)
Well, I think being an entrepreneur is, is about assessing risk and taking those risks and I can’t remember who said that, but I read a quote recently who was around, how do you make good decisions? And you make good decisions by making a lot of bad decisions. And I think that’s a, that’s a bit of a summary of the entrepreneurial journey. being an entrepreneur, you need to make decisions all the time and, and you’re gonna make a lot of bad decisions, but going to learn from that hopefully, and because you learn, then eventually you get better and making, you know, better and more wise decisions. So I think that’s, that’s, that’s the journey of the entrepreneur is like, you, you need to learn how to keep moving forward. keep learning. And then I think the better you are, the better you are de-risking and taking much better decisions.
Miko Santos: (24:15)
Do you believe in work-life balance as entreprenuers ?
Philippe Guichard: (24:21)
I never quite understood this theme of work-life balance and again, I respect that people want to reach that and, and do that. And that’s, that’s fine for me the design is my passion. So I would design stuff, even though we not have clients and get paid, I was still doing stuff and tinkering the shed and, you know, and sketch. And so for me, being creative and brilliant entrepreneur is part of who I am. And I don’t see me being the office separated to you know, being part of my life. And, and I have a family and, you know, I have friends Family and all that, and I, I try to make time for all that too. Um, but for me, I don’t see that as a structure, like some people are really looking for as trucks or fall work life balance for me.
Philippe Guichard: (25:16)
I see that as a balance, meaning it’s like riding a bike, you know, when you ride a bike, if you ride a bit slowly, you need to move and be, you know, better than left and right. If you’re out faster than you can really stay still in the area, you know but it changes all the time because of the context. So the work-life balance weeks I would work a lot and then there are other weeks I can really step back and spend more time with my son. And so it’s, it’s going with the flow, but I don’t have really a template or a goal to work no less because I need more time here or, you know, I just make that happen.
Miko Santos: (25:52)
Thank you for that explanation about work life balance. So what is your favorite book when you starting up as entreprenuers?
Philippe Guichard: (26:03)
There is a book I really, really like. that’s been out for a number of years now is called building a Brand Story by Donald Miller. And so good comeback marketing. And if I need to summarize a book, you know, in 30 seconds, it’s about most businesses make the mistake of being the hero of their own story. So you should look at that, you see that everywhere. It’s like, okay, I’m a consultant. I’m good. I have this award, I have achieved this and that. And they presented a set of being the hero. but you, you want to succeed in business. You need to shift that paradigm and make the customer hero, and you are the guide. And of course, large company know how to do that very well. So you have Apple with you, no thing different than Nike, just do it. just do it. It’s like you are, you buy shoes so that you can be the hero, be the runner, be the athlete, and thrive to have a better health and better fitness and everything. And Nike is just a guide and then makes them just kind of premium positioning. So the book building a story brands all about that, and a dollar offers a kind of framework so that you can do that yourself.
Miko Santos: (27:19)
How about the podcasts, any favorite podcasts that you’re listening right now?
Philippe Guichard: (27:25)
Yeah, definitely. So there’s a good podcast that I really like is called Open question by Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel And she’s a meditation teacher. She’s a very good meditation teacher by the way. And I liked this idea of open question because, um, there’s a big train in meditation where I call it transactional meditation. So people meditate because they want an outcome. They want to be this way. They want to feel this way. They want to be more productive or something, but actually the real goal of meditation is enlightenment. And in order to achieve that, you need to have a most patient’s mind. And you know that to do that, you need to also have this mindset or attitude of an open question. So when you sit in meditation and you have this goal of achieving your, it kind of defeats the purpose, but if you sit in meditation, I think, okay, what’s going to happen today. Oh, I see that there’s anger and resentment happening here. Well, let’s, let’s have a look into that. That’s interesting. And then you dive into that world of emotion and thought and story with these kinds of open question, and the podcast is all around that. And she has really great guests and and she’s a very good teacher too, so she’s no the thing too, but meditation. so it’s a very good, very good podcast that cuts the transactional meditation.a
Miko Santos: (28:53)
Thank you for that.so do you have any final advice? Anything else you want to share with our audience who is thinking of starting up?
Philippe Guichard: (29:07)
Yeah, I do. I do because I have meetings with entrepreneurs and sometimes I see the look on their face when they have an idea and we just Google that and it’s already out there because they’d been waiting for years and years. I had a meeting with them, let’s say a few months ago with an entrepreneur that shared the story about his idea and everything. And he had the idea for a while, almost seven years or something. You have done nothing about it. I thought all one day I will, one day I will. And suddenly you, we just Google something and its ideas out there. Someone’s been launching the product three months ago. And that was his idea. So my point is, if you have an idea of just starting, just start somewhere and you don’t have to, you know, have everything ready to all the ducks lined in a row and everything just starts, you know, sometimes, you know, just do a drawing, just do cardboard mock-up or prototype, or, but please start somewhere and just do the first step. And then the second, and then the third,
Miko Santos: (30:13)
Thank you so much. for our listener and Audience and wanted to have a chat with you, how they can contact you?
Philippe Guichard: (30:28)
Well, they can contact me on LinkedIn. If you type Philippe Guichard on LinkedIn, you will probably find me. I also have a website called https://www.d2melbourne.com.au/ And on that website, there’s a PDF that you can download. That’s going to give you all the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs do. And also you can schedule a session with me if you have an idea and you want to start executing.
Miko Santos: (30:52)
All right. Thank you so much for that. So all the links will be on the show notes. So then, if you have any questions, anything that you want to ask, Phillipe, it kind of, I’m going to put that on the show notes as well, so that you can click and have a chat with him. And of course, please subscribe and share this podcast with other entrepreneurs as well, so that they can learn more. And also thank you to my sponsors. Kangaroofern , a podcast management service. Book Now at www.kangaroofern.com and myayos.com for the WebHost Thank you so much and see you again for another episode of Bootrap Podcast under Auspod Syndicate.