Meet Philippe, Shape’s Head of Software


The Swiss robot whisperer with a weak spot for smelly cheese who transforms into a Jazz pianist by night. 

life before shape

Born and raised in Switzerland, the academics section on Philippe's resume shines even brighter than a real diamond. Going from Bachelor's to Master's to working in a lab and finally to a PhD, Philippe had spent almost a decade at one of the best universities in the world, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, or as the Swiss call it 'EPFL'.

“EPFL was the #1 university on my list. I knew I wanted to go there because it's an amazing school, one of the bests really.... You get to learn from very knowledgable and inspiring professors and become friends with super smart nerdy kids who have a good shot of ending up in a Forbes magazine at one point in their lives. I met Alex, Shape's Co-Founder, there as well.”

Following his early passions, Philippe studied Micro-engineering & Robotics for his Bachelor's with a specialization in software and electronics.

“I was 100% sure that I wanted to do something technical after high school and the word 'robotics' for a teenage boy is the absolute dream. So I went for Micro-engineering & Robotics. Then straight after my Bachelor's, I did a Master's degree at the same university, during which I spent 6 months in Québec, Canada. This was the only timeI lived abroad before San Francisco.”

Once done with his Master's, Philippe accepted an offer from a professor to work in one of EPFL's labs. And after 2 years, he decided to put the cherry on top of his education and mark his leave from EPFL with a PhD. Besides building an outstanding theoretical foundation in Software engineering that he could transfer to the real world, he got involved in the most exciting projects during his PhD.

“One of our coolest projects was when we had to build 40 robots each with a different, unique capability. Once they were all ready to rock, we put them in a room that had a shelf at the end with a book on it. The goal was to get the robots to work together and pick up the book from the shelf.”

Finally after his PhD, Philippe said a tearful goodbye to EPFL and jumped right in the middle of the real world's action, quite literally. “I started working as an Embedded Software Engineer at Geosatis, a company that was producing electronic monitoring bracelets for the “bad guys”. Home-arrest type of cases. Initially I was responsible for embedded software programming, customer education and user testings. After 2 years I got promoted to Head of Software.”

In his new position Philippe was put fully in charge of the embedded software and its development, the server, quality assurance and security, analytics and behavior predictions.

“You know how it is at a small company. This was my official daily routine, but if you asked me about the unofficial one, I'd say it looked a lot more like extinguishing one fire after another. That's the beauty about being Head of Software at a startup. Your life is full of excitement, and you have to face and solve unexpected situations, but this is how you get the real experience.”

Besides the technical areas, Philippe also had to manage the transition of the team as they grew from 10 employees to 60. Finally, after 4 years at Geosatis, he felt that it was time to move on and start his “fire extinguishing projects” around the bushes of tech capital, Silicon Valley.

why Shape

Philippe first heard about ShapeScale form Alex about 1.5 years ago. Alex already wanted to convince him to get aboard with Team Shape, but “I had to say no for both personal and professional reasons. But when he explained me what the product was, I immediately changed my answer and told him to ask again in a year!”

A year later, when Alex got back to Philippe, he finally gave in to the temptation and accepted the offer. He thought that it was an interesting opportunity where he could learn a lot. But this was not the only reason Philippe decided to move...

“It was an opportunity that you don't get twice. I saw a lot of potential for professional growth in the role. But besides this, there were also personal factors. I've always thought that the concept of ShapeScale was brilliant. But I only started working out a couple months ago, which is when I began to feel a real personal connection to the device. Now I don't just objectively recognize the value of ShapeScale, but am truly passionate about the product that we are building and cannot wait to have one in my own home. ” 

A Day In Philippe's Life

Philippe is Shape's Head of Software aka the 'lead fire extinguisher' of the Software Team. Philippe and his talented engineers do everything software related, including architecting, development and testing.

“We are basically ensuring the proper development of the software and taking care of everything that revolves around this. The Software Team is also responsible for running and managing our servers and the ShapeScale app. Meaning that it's on us that the scans get uploaded to the server and then transferred to the mobile app.”

While developing the software and setting up the servers have been Philippe's highest priorities since he landed in California, his team is also involved in new feature development. Coming up with new features is one thing, but the main task for the Software Team is the validation of new feature ideas and the accurate development of them. “In one sentence, me and my team, the Software magicians, are making sure that the product has all the features and a seamless user experience.”

Looking at the future, this new feature development goes way beyond fitness. There are new doors opening for ShapeScale with exciting opportunities in different industries day-by-day. These include everything from gaming to VR and fashion, but for Philippe the most appealing of all is healthcare.

“The medical industry definitely holds the greatest potentials for ShapeScale and this is where we could have the biggest impact as well. Let me give you an example. Let's say a ShapeScale is placed in a nursing home in a remote area. Patients could be scanned directly in the homes without traveling to a hospital God knows how many miles away. This will not only result in cost reductions, but more importantly allow for the local treatment of patients in critical conditions. It is going to be groundbreaking

highlights of working at shape

User Experience is a key area for Philippe and the fact that he's directly involved in the first steps of designing ShapeScale's User Experience is one of the most rewarding factors of his job.

“I am very excited about ShapeScale's future as well, but what really matters is the now. Now is the time when you can make a real difference. Everything we do across Software, Hardware and Computer Vision now has a direct impact on the product and the User Experience. And the fact that this product I am building right now will be used by tens of thousands of people is just an amazing feeling.”

But as we know, it's the people who make a company, which is another reason why Philippe likes to work at Shape. He loves the atmosphere, the diversity, that he gets to work with talented people all over the world and sees a real inspiration in the two Co-Founders.

“I have not been with the company for that long, but let me tell you that from day 1 I have been feeling this sense of belongingness. Team Shape is a real family. And of course, Alex and Martin are both great leaders of this Shape family.”