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I created my company by quitting smoking

We wanted to share with you Kwit's story, an unusual story, these are the words of the founder.

tree colleagues smile

January 8, 2020

My name is Geoffrey, I am 42 years old, and I am the co-founder of Kwit, an application that was at the beginning only for me. Today, it is the first smoking cessation application in France and has been downloaded by more than one and a half million smokers and former smokers worldwide.

How I started out

In 2011, I was a computer engineer. My job was to develop web applications. On January 1, 2012, the day of resolutions, I decided to quit smoking. Amateur of new technologies, I looked for an application to help me on the AppStore. But the apps I found were either incomplete or not very ergonomic, often both! That's why I chose to develop my own solution to stop smoking, the application that would suit me. I started to develop it as a side project, a weekend in 2012 and I continued on my free time for a while.

I quickly realized that, in trying to solve my addiction to cigarettes, I was helping people around me, strangers, to quit smoking. The feedback from users pushed me to continue. I received emails from people I didn't know who thanked me for saving their lives… the rest became obvious! I had to continue to develop Kwit and make it something great, something that could benefit to many people!

The decision to devote myself entirely to the development of Kwit took me a long time, since I only resigned in 2016. I start another entrepreneurial adventure that was not really successful but that allowed me to learn a lot (by making a lot of mistakes). In 2017, I really focused on Kwit, bringing two friends, Christophe and Jean-François, to the adventure.

The challenges I have faced

Create your company when you have a family is not easy, the first challenge is to convince your wife that the adventure is worth it. That it will be necessary to live with less comfort. Take fewer holidays, have less leisure time with children (at any rate, you have to reinvent low-cost activities) and spend much more time working.

Getting started also means convincing partners, getting the support and trust of banks, investors and the ecosystem. Convince them that I wasn't crazy, and that a mobile application you can really help people live better, longer and happier.

Finally, getting started means being ready to learn every day and knowing how to reinvent yourself.

tree screens of kwit app

What I like and why

So yes, going for it implies scrapped on a lot of comfort, but it's worth it. What I like is not just the advantage of being free, of managing my time and projects, but above all the joy of working on a project that is close to my heart, that makes sense and that allows many people to live happier, to feel proud of themselves. We work closely with our users.

If you want a good or a service to work, you have to agree to leave your desktop, even if it takes time that could have been used to develop many of the roadmap's feature. But what is the point of these new features if we don't know for sure that users will see the benefits? I’m a non smoker for 3 years, so it’s essentially to meet smokers, to take their opinions into account, and to understand what they really need and it’s essential to adapt to their expectations. For people to like the app, you have to know them and listened to them.

For example, we received a lot of feedback that Kwit did not take into account the consumption of nicotine substitutes. Some information, such as data on nicotine levels in the blood, was therefore not accurate. For example, we are currently working on a new version of Kwit that will allow users to track their nicotine replacement intake and help them reduce it.

My 3 tips for entrepreneurs

To all those who want to get started, choose the right people to start your team! Your idea, your product, your business plan, all this can change as you go along, but the team of founders and first employees will not change.

When you are looking for funds, contact experienced investors or business angels right away, because they are used to start-up and thanks to them, you can benefit from a network and real expertise. Capital is not financial dimension, but the network and the intellectual are very important.

Listen to what your users have to say and trust them. Obviously, it is not easy every day to receive complaints, or emails from people angry because of a bug you are trying to fix. But be patient, answer them, and show them that their opinion matters to you. After all, your idea is for them that you develop it and constantly renew it.

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