Some young people can’t help but stand out from the crowd due to their sheer determination to make their dreams come true. Philippe Arvanitis-Vigneault, CEO of Ecocharge—a Quebec startup developing an eco-friendly charger for electronic devices—is one of them.
Philippe is currently studying natural science at the Cégep de l’Outaouais. Highly motivated, he plans not only to earn two bachelor’s degrees—one in electronic engineering or physics, and the other in computer engineering or law—but also a double master’s degree in engineering physics and administration.
His aim with these courses is to acquire the necessary knowledge and tools to succeed in the business sector, a subject for which he is intensely passionate.
More efforts for better results
This young student does not come from a family of entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, he’s always nurtured product ideas, even though he doesn’t think they were always linked to the creation of a company. It’s through an extracurricular class in high school, at the Collège Saint-Alexandre, that Philippe’s interest for entrepreneurship developed. As part of this class, he collaborated with his best friend to launch a shirt-printing business. Unfortunately, it did not succeed—due to a lack of passion and effort, he admits. “You can’t start a company if you’re not 100% committed to it.” That’s the lesson he learned from that first attempt.
As the class deadline was still approaching, Philippe teamed up with a different student to set up a new project. This student wanted, just like him, to launch a business but she had no innovative idea. Which worked out well, since Philippe definitely hadn’t run out of ideas! He got his list out and, after some discussion, the two of them settled on the design of an eco-friendly charger. Ecocharge was born!
After this experience, Philippe did not remain idle. He mulled over formulas to obtain even better results. Many solutions might exist for a given problem, he points out, but it’s important to know how to find the right one. Everything starts as an idea, but you also can’t overlook the approach. Philippe decided to strategically step out of his comfort zone and take part in discussion groups and social happenings centred on entrepreneurship. The conversations he had during those events were particularly fruitful. “It’s through meeting all these interesting people that I realized I didn’t have enough business knowledge,” he rejoices. As he says, it’s nice to have ideas but you have to be able to make them work.
Why an eco-friendly charger?
The longer a mobile phone stays on, the more the battery will be depleted. Because of their high daily usage, phones and other electronic devices consume a lot of energy. And it’s hard today for users to go without their tech tools. On top of this is the environmental aspect which is close to Philippe’s heart, i.e. defending ecological values and preserving the environment.
These are the reasons that led Ecocharge to develop an eco-friendly charger. This product is designed to harness the energy generated by the friction and rotation of a bicycle’s wheels. This makes it possible to recharge any electronic device with a USB port. Therefore, it has no negative impact on ecosystems, hence the slogan “a charger that is good for you and good for nature.”
This is what is offered by Ecocharge, recipient of one of the two pitch contest grants awarded as part of the Startupfest stopover in Gatineau in 2019.
“Ecocharge is a company that I want to keep and develop,” states the young entrepreneur. On top of the eco-friendly charger, he intends to develop other products in the future in collaboration with partners, since he is aware of his limits in the business sector.
His advice: talk about your idea
What Philippe sees as the biggest hurdle for a young person wanting to start a business is the wariness of other people. Young entrepreneurs might be judged based on their lack of business experience and knowledge, and funding can be difficult to acquire when under 18. However, these should not be seen as insurmountable obstacles. On the contrary, this should be taken as an opportunity to show your abilities and to seek advice from experienced entrepreneurs.
Philippe encourages young people who wish to open a company to break the ice. “Talk about your idea,” he recommends. “Streamline it. And then, launch your business.” He remains convinced that the best time to start is when you’re young.
If you want to learn more about Ecocharge, take a look at its Website or follow Philippe on social media: