When I started parkour, around 2017, I had a very hard time finding training spots in my little town with crumbling walls. My first thought was to search on the web if I could find a map or a community near me which could help me in that task. Unfortunately, in this remote part of France, I couldn’t find anything. Then I tried searching the App Store for an app, but after trying a few ones, I was surprised I couldn’t find anything good enough.
That’s why I decided to get on with it. At the time I was finishing High School, but I was already passionate about iOS development. I started learning the skills I would need to develop such an app. After High School, I wanted to study Computer Science, and moved to a really better place: La Rochelle. A new city meant new spots, and La Rochelle was a great place for that. There are some incredible spots, but it’s also really long to find them if you don’t meet someone to show you around. My problem was very different from the one I had in my previous small town: now I needed a map to remember the places everywhere across this big city. I needed my own app more and more, and I knew I wasn’t the only one.
When I arrived, in September 2018, I heard about the National Student-Entrepreneur Status, a special status for students developing a project. I decided to apply, and I prepared for the selection interview. I was really convinced by the purpose of Monki Map, and its great potential, so I had no trouble making them like the idea. However, it was my first time explaining my project in front of a jury, and it wasn’t that easy to make them understand what parkour is about in such a small time.
The good news is that they really liked it, and gave me the National Student-Entrepreneur Status. Thanks to it, I was able to take the Student-Entrepreneur Diploma, a one-year training course about entrepreneurship. It was the beginning of a long journey for Monki Map.
While building my project, I went through different important steps. If you want to create a project too, you should read them carefully, it’ll hopefully help you.
Step 1: Realize you lack a ton of knowledge, and that’s okay
The first thing I learned was that I lacked a ton of knowledge to develop an app by myself. Every developer reading this will understand; after spending a lot of time thinking and working on something, I always discover something a lot better, and need to rewrite everything. In fact, I could undoubtedly say that almost all of the work I’ve done does not exist anymore… but it was very useful in the process of getting to a better place. I spent hundreds of hours, litteraly, building this app, but for a long time I never had anything to show. Every 6 months, I was starting again from scratch, and was faced with the obvious: I had to think more and do a ton of research before acting, otherwise I would never go forward.
Step 2: Be confident
For about a year and a half, a strange feeling was regularly slowing me down. I was always telling myself “Why me?”. The more I was working on Monki Map, the less I was training parkour, and this lead to me not being as close to the community as I would have liked to. I know it’s bad, but I had to get past this feeling. I had to change my mind, and realize I have so many skills a lot of people in the parkour community don’t have, that’s why I was doing it.
Don’t say “Why me?”, say “Why not me?”
I was always 100% confident and passionate about Monki Projects, and I always knew redoubling my efforts was the only solution, so I did it.
Step 3: Work hard
During my studies, I worked really hard, both for my main degree, my double degree in entrepreneurship, and my project. I didn’t sleep much, trained less and less, and never went out… I was focused on Monki Map. My teachers were aware of it, and while a lot of them didn’t care, some of them were really supportive, and I really enjoyed it.
Work as much as you can, listen to supportive people, and ignore haters.
Fast-forward about two years at school, a graduation from the “Student-Entrepreneur Diploma”, three rewrites of the entire app from scratch and not many good nights sleep, we get to… a worldwide pandemic 😷 While a lot of people were really disappointed not to be able to travel for their graduation internship, I was the happiest man in the world 🤩 Well, I was supposed to go to Ireland, and I was really looking forward to it… but deep inside me, there is one thing I wanted: being able to work full-time developing my app. Do you remember the special status I had (and still have)? Yeah, I was officially a “student entrepreneur”, and it allowed me to replace my graduation internship by… working full-time on my project!
I immediately made an appointment with my tutor, and explained the situation. She told me about a 3-months launching program called “Pépite Starter”, for student entrepreneurs about to launch their project. As always, with no hesitation, I applied.
If you can learn something, practice, broaden your network… always do it! It can only be worth it.
I started the following week, in a hurry, and we went on courses and workshops almost every day. We were about 20 passionates. Every homework we had was always related to our own projects. We had two big things to prepare: the “Mid Term Review” – a 10-minutes pitch in front of a jury experienced in entrepreneurship – and the “demo day” – a big event where every student entrepreneur would pitch their project in front of a crowd. Due to the pandemic, the demo day was transformed in a video we had to record. In addition, I had to prepare my graduation oral exam. I took this opportunity to work 40-50 hours a week. I made a lot of progress on my app, and wrote pitches I’m really proud of.
Step 4: Get the word out
Once you know what you want to do and how to explain it, it’s time to talk about it. Reach out to people, use your network, and stay confident. I don’t want to talk about Monki Projects too much until I’m ready to ship Monki Map, that’s why I didn’t post everywhere across the web. But you should do it if you want to be known.
My most visible apprearance is in the Pépite Starter demo day video. Due to a comprehension problem, the more dynamic half of my pitch is not in the final edit. I know it sounds a bit boring, but things like that always happen, it can never be perfect.
The video is in French, but you can try to use YouTube’s automatic subtitles if you don’t understand.
I also recorded a French-speaking podcast episode with a girl from the Pépite Starter program, you can find it here: