Less than a year ago, Signifia was still a student project in the making as part of the entrepreneurship course offered in the 3rd year of the ENSTA Paris engineering program. Today, it is a startup in full acceleration.
The first step was to change its name. The student project, which was called "Salut Translate", has become the startup Signifia: "Salut Translate corresponded well to the idea of the project, but in practice was too long, and mixed English and French. Signifia offers a much better synthesis, with the added bonus of an AI ending, a nod to the company's strong technological dimension," says Pierre Haro, project leader.
From May to October 2022, Signifia was incubated in the "SchoolLab" program at Station F, a startup campus located in the Freyssinet hall in Paris. "These 6 months were very profitable and allowed us to be accompanied and coached on many subjects such as marketing, pitching, law or accounting, all things that we know are necessary for the life of a company but which take a very concrete dimension when we embark on the adventure of creation" admits the young entrepreneur.
In October, Signifia won the 9th edition of the national Pépite prize as the most promising student entrepreneurship project in the Paris region. Initiated by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the Pépite Prize is a support system for innovative and creative business creation projects led by students. "This award was a wonderful conclusion to the student part of our project," says Pierre Haro.
At the same time, the startup hired its first employees, Victor Perset and Inès Gervais. "Victor joined us as an artificial intelligence engineer to refine our algorithm for personalizing the signer's appearance. As for Inès, she works as a web developer on the online integrations of our automatic sign language translation solution," explains Pierre Haro.
As for the product itself, the goal is to release a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, in its first marketable version, during 2023.
"The 30,000 euros from the FrenchTech grant will allow us to accelerate our development," continues Pierre. "We are currently looking for funds and in the middle of a roadshow: we are making calls to investment funds and business angels to convince them to invest in our first round of financing, which we hope to complete before the end of the year."
While waiting to reach this goal, Signifia took part in its first press conference alongside Orange on October 11.
"Orange wanted to showcase three innovations that will be deployed during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, knowing that we were the only startup they were supporting. This followed the EvenTech challenge we had won. We presented the solution in front of about thirty journalists, and explained the great promise it holds for the millions of people suffering from hearing loss. This press conference earned us our first press coverage in Paris Match!"
Far from being overwhelmed by the success and the progress made over the past year, Pierre Haro remains aware of all that remains to be done, and also remembers where Signifia comes from: "I really want to thank ENSTA Paris and the alumni for the support they gave us at the start of the project, especially during the participatory funding campaign last June. On this subject, we don't forget the contributors, nor the beta-testers, and we will come back to them very soon. It's just taking longer than we thought!"