"Smart Monkeys" lights up the show [fr]
e-Toile: Hello Stéphane Villet. You are the co-founder of “Smart Monkeys”, a company that offers innovative solutions in the audiovisual field. Before discussing the services you offer, can you tell us a bit about what drew you to the entertainment and events industry?
- Stéphane Villet: During my teenage years, I divided my time between science (in High school) and music (with a group of friends). Therefore, I chose to become a sound engineer to bring together my two passions. After a few years of wandering the halls of several recording studios in Paris, I joined Disneyland Paris and discovered the theme park’s little-known technology.
Today, Smart Monkeys specializes in the design and deployment of automation systems and the synchronization of audiovisual and recreational equipment. Our team is globally recognized in this niche market often known as “Show Control.”
Our key markets are divided into three categories: “Entertainment” (theme parks, Broadway shows, Casinos…), “Edutainment” (Museums, Exhibitions, Showrooms...), and “Architainment” (Transportation, Hotels, Stadiums…).
e-Toile: When speaking of innovative companies, rightly or wrongly, Miami is not the first American city mentioned. What motivated you to move to the “Magic City”; and do you know of other entrepreneurs, also in innovative fields, who have made this choice in recent years?
- Stéphane Villet: Honestly, I found myself in Miami a bit by chance. After Disney, I accepted an offer from a French SME that wanted to open an office in the United States. A logistics partnership with another company that already had offices in Florida led me here.
I soon realized that Miami has more to offer than it appears, especially for a company with international ambitions. The time zone is ideal to cover the European market in the morning and the West Coast market in the afternoon, and you can travel almost anywhere in the Americas with a non-stop flight from North to South America.
The reasonable taxation and easiness of creating a business are also huge assets. Finally, even if Miami remains largely focused on tourism and real estate, many business incubators and emerging local investors point to a dynamic and entrepreneurial diversity in perfect harmony with the current economic boom in the region.
e-Toile: Your company is thriving. Last year in Beijing, you were awarded a trophy for innovation in the field of technology at a summit dedicated to theme parks. What is your recipe for success? As a nod to the name of your company, do you have to be “clever” and “smart as monkeys” to win?
- Stéphane Villet: Whatever the context and opportunities, success can only be achieved through hard work and a quality job. For an expatriate, the United States is often synonymous with the American dream.
However, it is important to weigh the risks associated with such reductive reasoning. Florida has many advantages and it is very easy to become an entrepreneur. However, these advantages are the same for all competitors. Innovation is essential to survive and succeed in such a prolific and dynamic market.
In addition, innovation also requires an original name that will pique the interest of potential customers and partners.
e-Toile: Without betraying your current business partnerships, could you give us some insight into some of the projects that you are currently working on and could you give us an idea of what would be your dream contract?
- Stéphane Villet: We are currently hard at work with the production teams of the upcoming show “Spring Spectacular” at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. It is such a great honor to partner with such a famous theatre.
Our recent work at the airport in Los Angeles has garnered extensive media coverage and has opened many doors for us. We have several other projects in the works. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal too much about them.
However, I can reveal that the cities associated with the projects are Baltimore, Washington D.C., and L.A. in the U.S., and Macau, Berlin, and Dubai.
As far as our dream project goes, it would be to be entrusted with the design and implementation of a major theme park’s complete control system from A to Z. We are currently in the midst of talks with several major industry players on the subject. Who knows maybe 2015 will be a dream year?