“Lausanne is a vital technological hub for EVRYTHNG”

Supported by Innovaud, the EVRYTHNG group has set up its labs team in Lausanne in the canton of Vaud, working on cutting edge innovation in the field of standards, machine learning and blockchain. We interviewed Dominique Guinard, innovator and EVRYTHNG CTO in the canton of Vaud.

Please tell us about yourself & your professional experience from Switzerland to the world, and now in Lausanne with EVRYTHNG

I have dedicated my entire career to the Internet of Things and in particular - how to connect everyday things to the Web. I began my career as a researcher at ETH Zurich before going on to do my postdoc at MIT AutoID labs. After MIT I took a position with SAP Research in Zurich where I focused on IoT. I then went on to co-found EVRYTHNG in 2011.

Since starting EVRYTHNG, I have divided my time between Zurich, London and now Lausanne where I’m focused on bootstrapping our Swiss team. In my role as CTO, I lead our amazing engineering and innovation team.

What is EVRYTHNG about, and how is it structured worldwide? You seem to have multiple teams across Europe

EVRYTHNG employs about 70 people across the globe, in particular in London, New York, Lausanne and Minsk. We also have a small operation in China.

With more than 4 trillion consumer goods and apparel items in circulation and an ever increasing demand for end to end traceability through the supply chain, the Internet of Things has taken on a whole new dimension and is growing at an unprecedented rate. EVRYTHNG plays a critical role in this growth by giving every single consumer product a Digital Twin in the EVRYTHNG Product Cloud™ . This digital twin raises the bar in helping consumer goods brands fight the war against counterfeiting by providing needed visibility into every product’s journey through the supply chain. Item-level traceability helps brands monitor and reduce the production of backdoor goods while lifting the veil on parallel imports. Moreover, by digitizing every product and giving it a digital twin in the cloud, brands have a direct-to-consumer channel for personalized experiences through the product item.

Today, EVRYTHNG manages more than 1 billion product identities and our platform handles more than 100 mio calls to Digital Twins per day. Our customers include brand leaders in the apparel, CPG, beauty, and wine & spirits industries including Ralph Lauren, Coca Cola, MOWI and Carrefour.

How do you think Switzerland and the canton of Vaud form a favorable environment to develop your business and Lab?

The company has roots in Switzerland since we started it at ETH Zurich and in London with three co-founders in Switzerland and one in the UK. In the early years of the company we felt that we needed to all be co-located and chose London as our HQ. More recently we felt the time was right to grow the team in Switzerland for two primary reasons:

Switzerland gives us close access to several target customers in central Europe. Switzerland, and the region of Vaud in particular, provides access to an incredible pool of talent (e.g., via the EPFL) specialized in cutting edge technologies such as machine learning and blockchain. Hence, we decided to establish our Labs team in Lausanne.

What unique assets do you find here, for you personally?

Personally, I have had the chance to live in several places, the north of England, London and Boston in the US. While I did enjoy every bit of these places, I simply never found the quality of life we have in Switzerland anywhere else. Politics is primarily focused on getting things done, the economy is stable. Moreover, being slightly addicted to climbing high mountains, the breathtaking and accessible nature of Switzerland is also a massive plus!

How did Innovaud help you in the process of moving to Switzerland, and Lausanne?

I was advised by a friend to contact Innovaud to assist with EVRYTHNG’s setup in Lausanne. The assistance provided was exceptional. Innovaud helped us understand the local business requirements, helped us find amazing talent, and most importantly, helped connect us with its vibrant ecosystem. Lausanne is a vital hub for EVRYTHNG and the ability to get connected within the right communities was imperative to our success. Innovaud played an instrumental role in making those connections.

In your opinion, what are the main differentiating aspects between Switzerland and our region, and other parts of the world in your domain (ICT & Digital)?

There are several important differentiators worth highlighting:

  • Access to a large pool of top talent in particular through ETH and EPFL but also beyond: I was always impressed by the quality of Swiss engineering schools (e.g., HEIG-VD or HEIG-FR with whom we already collaborate) and other universities. I received my bachelor’s in computer science from the University of Fribourg which offered “humanely-sized” classess.
  • Switzerland is the birthplace of several technology domains important to EVRYTHNG. For instance, the AutoID labs in Zurich and St-Gallen were at the forefront of the Internet of Things. Similarly, in the blockchain space a lot of technologies emerged from Switzerland.

What is your capacity to access talents in our region?

There is real talent in ICT and beyond in Switzerland. One of the advantages of Switzerland is that direct connections are possible whereas in other countries where we operate, the talent market is completely held by mighty recruitment agencies who do not always play fair. On the flipside, talent in Switzerland can also be pricey and people generally need a bit of convincing to onboard with a startup. There is a bit more risk adversity in Switzerland than in London and other parts of the world.

Did you face obstacles while moving here, and how did you overcome them?

From an administrative standpoint not really and Innovaud was very helpful. Perhaps, what is a little more challenging in Switzerland is getting connected with the right networks. Switzerland is very Swiss-centric and sometimes it can be hard for a company coming from abroad to get into the Swiss scene. Here again partners like Innovaud help open doors.

EVRYTHNG recently raised 10 million: how will this benefit the development of the company’s activities in Lausanne and world?)

Raising this money in COVID times was not easy but it validates the importance of what EVRYTHNG is doing in the industry. The funding will be used to further develop our business model and our technology with an emphasis on our supply chain traceability solution. In particular it will fuel the development of solutions employing artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve brand protection and integrity issues within the supply chain. The results of our work with academic partners in Switzerland were impressive. We are now shifting these development efforts to our product to make them accessible to our customers.

More about Dominique Guinard

Dr. Dominique Guinard is CTO and co-founder of EVRYTHNG, the Product Cloud providing digital identities for the world’s consumer products. EVRYTHNG quite literally helps the world’s largest brands create products ‘born digital.’

EVRYTHNG is a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s prestigious Global Innovators community. An originator of the technology adopted by GS1 to upgrade the global barcode standard to connect every consumer product to the web, EVRYTHNG recently won Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas award for bringing transparency, authenticity, and personalized experiences to the consumer products industry.

An IoT expert, Dom is currently a co-chair of the GS1 Digital Link working group, an advisor and contributor to the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Blockchain for Supply Chain project, a faculty member at the Blockchain Research Institute, and a faculty representative at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Listed as a top 10 IoT Thinker by Postscapes, Dom is recognized as a Web of Things (WoT) pioneer by ETH Zurich and MIT, and his Ph.D. on the WoT was granted the ETH Medal.