June 23, 2020 (San Francisco)
This past Monday, on June 22nd, Harmony Plus continued our Future Entrepreneur Challenge (FEC) talkshow. For our second episode, we interviewed David Fattal, an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley and a Ph.D in Physics from Stanford University, who was named “French Innovator of the Year” and included in the “35 Innovators under 35” by MIT Technology Review in 2013.
Now he’s the CEO of LEIA Inc., a company that specializes in the fabrication of lightfield technology to redefine how people interact with media. As David explains, lightfields, which focuses on the interaction between light and nano-structures, enables media to be viewed and interacted with on holographic displays. It is a technology that has multiple applications across numerous industries.
“If you’ve all seen the Star Wars movies, like Princess Leia coming out of the screen, it’s essentially a technology that lets you experience holographic-type content… from a regular device. Might it be a phone, a tablet, even the display in your car.”
David stated that his lightfield technology was the result of about 10 years of research at Hewlett-Packard (HP) Labs and his time as a Ph.D student at Stanford University. He worked at the HP Labs to not only better understand how to manipulate light at the nano-scale on a theoretical level, but also to be very hands-on about learning how to manufacture these nano-structures and to create something tangible.
However, it was a serendipitous accident that led to David’s eventual founding of his company. In 2010, while working with nano-particle samples at HP Labs, David and his fellow researchers were forced to immediately evacuate the building due to a fire alarm. Not wanting to potentially leave months of work and effort behind, he took his sample to the courtyard, where everyone was gathered. Outside of the building, David discovered that the sunlight going through his nano-particle sample was projecting a three-dimensional image. Realizing that this technology was something that many people would enjoy, along with support from his wife and his more entrepreneurial friends, David proceeded to create LEIA Inc.
David explained that one of the most important factors to consider when creating a company is the strength of support that someone can receive from their connections. For David, that came from his family and friends, especially one of his best friends from college who he collaborated with to create LEIA Inc. Through this, he was able to face many of the early challenges that many entrepreneurs and start-up companies face, with the most common one being adequate access to funding.
“Early on you may not realize that, if you look around you, the friends that you have at school or have at college may very likely be the best connections in your network as your future business partners.”
He also offered advice for students who aspired to be entrepreneurs. The key takeaway was to focus heavily on a single subject at a young age, which would allow for a much deeper dive into the technicalities of the subject, to the point where someone could do something that no one else could. This would also allow someone to better develop their intuition and worth ethic, which could be applied to both their personal and professional lives.
If you are interested in learning more about David and his story, you can watch the full video here.
Tune in next Monday, June 23, for Episode 003, with Afshin Shafie, CEO of Byga. You can sign up on our Eventbrite here.