‘Giving it all up to start a robotics company’

When he was 5 years old, Romaric Gomart dreamt of becoming an astronaut or a fighter pilot. Today, this ECAM engineer is not walking in the footsteps of Thomas Pesquet, however, as he has decided to embark on an adventure of another kind: giving up his career as an executive in an international group in order to start his own company, PaintUp.

Being an entrepreneur is also an expedition into the unknown!

What is PaintUp?

Fascinated by 3D printing, I gave myself the challenge of bringing digital technology to the construction industry.

My first idea was to 3D-print houses. After studying the ins and outs of it, this project turned out to be difficult to complete due to physical and legislative hurdles.

I then turned towards an autonomous robotic solution capable of cleaning, sanding or painting façades. This unique concept came from a simple observation: today, falls from heights are the leading cause of death in the construction sector.

Workers must walk on scaffolding, moving slowly and with great difficulty in uncomfortable conditions. PaintUP is a solution that provides workers with greater safety, improved working conditions and the ability to work faster.

From a major group to a start-up adventure

After earning my ECAM Arts et Métiers engineering degree in 2005, I started my career at Alstom as a Costing Manager for the Citadis range, then as Manager of the Strategic Supplier Relations program. Responsible for the design-to-cost of tramways for two years, I also liaised between the design office and calls for tender. As I missed working out in the field, I took advantage of an opportunity to shift towards a position as Range Purchasing Coordinator for PRASA, a South African public transport operator.

After two and a half years, still seeking more autonomy and freedom, I left Alstom in order to found my start-up, PaintUP.

In the beginning, I was working alone in my apartment, and after 3 months I decided to join an incubator. I started at Beelys, then went to the INSA Lyon incubator, ECAM Lyon Tech 360 and EM Lyon.

I was very quickly eliminated from my first start-up competition, but I see failure as something that can always be useful. I learned from my competitors and my mistakes and six months later I won First Prize in Lyon’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year (JEA) competition.

Thanks to the incubators, PaintUP has been able to move forward with cutting edge equipment. One of our greatest successes has been relocating a robotic arm with a level of precision within one centimeter. Today, my company has three permanent employees, our own equipment and initial contracts with Lafarge-Holcim, Eiffage and Vinci.

Entrepreneur or adventurer?

To take on this type of project, you have to be something of an adventurer. Being an entrepreneur with disruptive technology is like voyaging off into the unknown: the road is not laid out and you have very limited resources. You need to persevere and be creative in order to move forward despite all of the obstacles.

Finally, as my experience in the corporate world taught me, you need to get people behind you and communicate about your project in order to make it grow, evolve and enrichen.

Romaric’s advice

Do what you like, find a project that makes you feel alive and go for it. It is not necessarily a good idea to start your career as an entrepreneur, as you learn a lot working at a company and any type of experience is good to get!