“Neither a graphic designer nor a geek, I became a virtual engineer (almost) in spite of myself!”

Posted on Apr 19, 2022, 7:00 AM

“I had more than a hundred events to my credit when, after ten years of my career, the pandemic halted my activity. In 2020, there have been those who have taken the digital turn and others convinced that nothing can replace face-to-face confrontation, especially in my sector.

Personally, I’ve never advocated the all-digital system, but I’m curious about what can be done with it. Therefore, I observe, follow on the Internet, register for webinars on this topic, as soon as possible. I really firmly believe that non-physical tools can bring people together at a distance, and deliver messages to as many people as possible. But I miss the emotion, the element of surprise, the warmth of human connection IRL.

It’s no wonder that giving people a different experience from their daily lives is my core business of events. I design, manage and manage events (excursions, seminars, parties, team building, street marketing, etc.) for companies in the environment, media, insurance and agri-food sectors.

But, one day, he asked for something that would change the course of my career.

Once upon a time there was a cafeteria…

The founder of Brains with Benefits, a community of entrepreneurs I belong to, is asking me to find a way to unify the network remotely. The other day, I just watched a video of an SVT teacher creating his virtual classroom to give his students a taste of taking his lessons.

Suddenly, at two in the morning, alone in the living room, I connected the two pieces of information.

If there is one place to bond in the professional world, it is the cafeteria. In order to create a common space for us, I started creating a virtual cafeteria on Photoshop, in the middle of the night. I think the coffee machine is the cornerstone of this virtual room. By clicking on it, it is possible to meet online and chat via chat at any time of the day. So that everyone feels right at home, I added in this decor that was created from the ground up, a press corner and an information panel. I also offer toys, music, fruit basket, branded mugs, etc.

Hours of research, retribution and development later, “La Cavite” was born.

The rest of the story exceeded my expectations because a year after it opened, this venue (accessed via a simple URL) has become an unmissable meeting place for the fifty or so entrepreneurs in the community. In addition to meeting there on a frequent basis every Monday morning for discussion, this virtual room is gradually being transformed into a reception area where workshops are organized regularly.

flash drills

To continue this momentum, I decided to coach myself. Graduated with a degree in Psychology from Paris City University and a Masters in Business Communication from ISCPA (School of Journalism and Communication), I started a four-day course to become an interior designer. Funded by Agefice (Association for Business Leaders Training Funding Management). At the same time, a technical director trains me for two full days.

Gradually, I diversify my worlds. A month after creating La Cafette, entrepreneurs and creatives started knocking on my door. Like this chef who dreamed of setting up his own neat little restaurant when the pandemic arrived. So I imagine his virtual restaurant. Or like this female entrepreneur who wanted to share her work and vision of the textile industry on a website that looked like her.

Restaurant experience.Maggie

A restaurant, a showroom, a fashion kiosk… Although they may look real, these places don’t exist other than the internet. I think of every square meter as a 2D digital decor. Since I want my clients to feel right at home, I love to get into the “picture” I paint of them, of their favorite drink or favorite number. For them, it’s a way to stand out in communication on their project.

Two professional activities at the same time

On average, it takes one to three weeks to design a virtual room. Therefore, today I mainly sell “my time” and only do custom business. Since I’m almost three years old, I’ve been trying to find the right balance between time spent and reward.

The price of the virtual currency is at least 2000 euros. When the virtual room is delivered, I give them the link, and then I let my clients have the opportunity to be completely independent on the tool, by offering them training or providing maintenance if they prefer turnkey. In 2021, it earned 30 thousand euros in sales value. Currently, my professional activity is still divided between creating events and virtual rooms. Depending on the periods, I adjust: one takes precedence over the other.

In total, I invested a lot more time than money in the end. For the graphic part, I subscribed to several, took some Photoshop lessons and watched hours of tutorial videos!

3D alternative

Now that I have mastered the technique, my main difficulty is lack of time. I have a lot of ideas, universes that I dream of creating, like a fun museum, a virtual wizard’s locker, a mobile school library… I didn’t even have time to create my own virtual office to welcome my next clients.

While the word “metaverse” is on everyone’s lips, I feel like I’m still an alternative to 3D. I suggest on my way (I’m still very literally) diving into a 100% digital living space, without headphones or avatars. »

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If you also have a nice (or less beautiful) story to tell, feel free to contact us: redaction-start@lesechos.fr

And to read other inspiring testimonials, you’ll find them here.

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