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Olivier Plante
Thingthing Ltd.

Olivier Plante Thingthing Ltd. — Betahaus

Olivier Plante is a 34-year-old French Canadian from Montreal. He moved to Barcelona 9 years ago and is the cofounder of Thingthing Limited.

About Fleksy and Betahaus:

T

Hi Olivier! You’re working on an idea called “Fleksy”. Can you tell us more about it?

OP

Fleksy is a keyboard for your Smartphone that can replace the keyboard you’re using today. It gives you the ability to type faster, it’s available in many languages (48 of them to be exact) with and includes autocorrect. Additionally, Fleksy means you never have to switch between apps to access content. For example, if you’re using WhatsApp and you want to check your availability on your calendar, you’d normally have to exit WhatsApp to access it. With Fleksy, you can check your calendar without switching apps. You just tap a button on the keyboard.

T

Do you think privacy is Fleksy’s most valuable asset compared to other keyboards?

OP

I think it’s a major asset which makes sense for the future. As founders, we want to protect people without diminishing the product’s value. Privacy is a key element for us. Other keyboards rely on uploading your information and then offering you the best suggestion. Then they want to connect your email or your location with the keyboard to get your information. We don’t know what the other keyboards do with this information, and they cover it by improving your suggestions. Fleksy users can be sure that we aren’t looking at the content of what they’re typing, and that we’re also dealing with governments and other official agencies.

Olivier Plante Thingthing Ltd. — Betahaus
T

Speaking of differences, can you tell us more about what sets Fleksy apart from other keyboards?

OP

The other aspect we’ve been working on is artificial intelligence integrated into the keyboard. It’s the world’s first artificial intelligence that works on your phone. It uses the CPU, the GPU and your phone’s processing power instead of uploading data to The Cloud and then processing that data. With this AI, we are able to understand people, as if we were reading their minds as they type. For example, if you’re talking to a friend about going to a movie, the keyboard will understand that. What we decided to do is process this information using your phone. Instead of suggesting the next word, we are able to suggest the next “need”. For instance, what movies are on at the cinema right now? Or where can we go for a drink near the cinema? The keyboard will know what you like. It’s not invasive – it’s just like when your keyboard suggests your next word. You can choose to accept it by tapping on it (or not).

T

We’re curious. How did you achieve a Guinness World Record?

OP

We have a keyboard user to thank for that. It was a contest amongst all users, where the aim was to achieve a certain typing speed, and some users took it very seriously! At one point they attempted a Guinness World Record and they succeeded. It was two years ago now.

T

Why did you chose Barcelona? And why Betahaus?

OP

Basically, I was living here in Barcelona. When we first started our idea was still very simple. We got in touch with two great guys, we told them about our idea and that we needed a place to work, and at that time we didn’t have the cash to go anywhere. At the same time, there was a contest called Betapeech and we won it. We were given four free months at Betahaus. We started to work here for free and we liked it, and now we’ve got seven team members working here.

T

How did life at Betahaus influence your professional and personal growth? What did you learn here?

OP

I think when you try to create a company it’s built on people and talent. What’s good about Betahaus is that there are a lot of things happening in the community around us, which really boosts our culture. You have the chance to talk to others about your ideas and if they tell you they don’t understand, you know you have to clarify what you’re presenting. You can ask for feedback, and you can also see others doing great work and ask them for guidance. You have access to a lot of talented people in one place, which helps you to create a better product. Being at Betahaus is the added value we wanted for our company within a larger community.

T

And one final question. What is the future of Fleksy? How do you imagine it will be?

OP

I think our goal is to be on everyone’s phone by default. It’s a huge goal and right now we have signed deals to that end. We’re going to continue developing the product to make sure we can be on more people’s phones. The goal is to create a new typing experience and to never have to switch apps again. We want to be the fastest keyboard for sharing information.

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