Poplar's CEO David Ripert on how to build a strong startup

Article cover

David Ripert has previously worked for Google, YouTube, DailyMotion and Netflix. Now he is the Co-founder and CEO of Poplar.Studio — Poplar.Studio is the leading AR creative platform that helps brands, agencies and companies to produce augmented reality (AR) content for advertising in an affordable, simple and quick way.

You come from a corporate background, what did you take away from the company cultures in these types of environments? What values had a lasting impact on you?

All of them have outstanding cultures, one of the main values that had a lasting impact on me is focusing on the workforce, giving them the skills to excel, and also making them feel like the “owners” of the company.

Poplar.Studio is based on that “owner” value. Our workforce is the core of our startup, we have a community of AR creators and provide training and community tools for them so that they can learn from us and we can also learn from them.

How did you go about creating the culture at Poplar? Did you take anything from the corporate cultures you had been immersed in before?

I definitely wanted Poplar.Studio to be a company that looks at the future — companies like Netflix are doing this brilliantly and it’s definitely a discipline to make decisions based not on what the world will be like in 6 months but in 5 years. Poplar was actually created by what I understood was going to be the future trend for video making and content creation — we believe we are moving from the complex video setup to only one simple tool: smartphones — and AR is the way audiences will consume this new content.

Did you use any tools or frameworks to create and implement your culture? If so, what were they?

Culture is now at the core of organizations of any size, it’s really good to see that there are tools available out there for us to use. As my culture focuses on our people, one of the tools I really like and that I’m involved with is BODYSWAPS — a virtual reality learning platform to develop and improve workers’ soft skills.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting to create your company culture?

There are many challenges when it comes to creating your own culture of course, but maybe one of the biggest was actually “now that I set my values, how do I transmit them to employees joining Poplar.Studio?”. In the end, it realized that it’s the other way around — your decisions, what you make time for, what you celebrate, what you communicate on: these are the signals you are giving your team and these are the values that they’ll take away.

What advice would you give on creating a company culture to entrepreneurs that are just starting their own company? What were the big mistakes you would avoid if you had to do it again?

Going back, I think mistakes are actually sometimes what really helps you understand the direction you want to go. The advice I would give entrepreneurs is to look at what they stand for and what they want their company to be and work from there. Also, if we’re not talking about Millennials but about someone who started his company in their 40s like me, I would say that looking at their past experiences is key!

Thank you very much for your time and these insights, David! Is there any other thing you would like to add that we did not go over?

Thank you for having me and yes, maybe one more thing: it’s ok to make mistakes and not get everything right at the beginning but once you have a culture that is positive and that works, do everything you can to protect it. Once you reach a certain size, it’s too hard to go back and mistakes cost you much more!