After co-founding the startup Smart Impulse, this young engineer and serial entrepreneur embarked on a climate awareness-raising adventure by creating the escape game Gaïactica –combining entertainment, technology, and ecology.
Entrepreneur, consultant, teacher, lecturer, coach… At the age of 31, Dorian Tourin-Lebret has already reinvented himself several times over. “I’m a passionate multipreneur,” he states right off the bat. His proudest achievement, however, is being “captain of the Gaïactica ship”. For this versatile engineer, the world of childhood and science fiction is never far away. But it’s a world in which there is no place for amateurism or approximation.
In September 2019, a 50 square-metre spaceship named Gaïactica was installed at Cap Sciences Bordeaux, a centre for scientific, technical and industrial culture located on the banks of the Garonne River. This escape game, which has already attracted more than 3,000 people, gives visitors the opportunity to make the right decisions in order to “save the Earth and humankind from climate change” by playing an immersive game. It’s a fun way to measure the overall impact of our daily activities.
“Training yourself in emotional and relational intelligence makes it easier to get perspective on your emotions, particularly in a professional context”
“This project, which I initiated in the summer of 2018 and which took six months of scientific research and scenario development then a further six months of production, brings together three of my passions: technology, environmental issues, and a game-based approach,” explains Tourin-Lebret.
It is at École Centrale Paris (a prestigious science and engineering school), from which he graduates in 2011, that he quickly develops a taste for entrepreneurship. A month into his course, he initiates an extra-curricular project with two other students.
“A meeting with an engineer from Areva convinces us that energy is a promising sector. After looking into several options, we decide to work on a system that measures a building’s overall electricity consumption based on information collected by a single meter,” he says.
This process gives rise in 2011 to Smart Impulse and its smart electricity meter, which detects each consumption point and flags up anomalies (lighting left on at night, ventilation of empty rooms, etc.) – an ideal tool for performing an assessment in real time and finding ways to save energy.
Teaching multiple audiences
After a few years of this exciting and promising adventure, Tourin-Lebret starts getting itchy feet… “We were approaching a key moment in the development of the company. We had around 30 employees and international ambitions, but the organisation and management side of it didn’t interest me as much.” So, he branches out on his own again in 2018 to focus on teaching. “In fact, I’ve always been involved in teaching: I taught secondary school students during my preparatory course for the ‘grandes écoles’ entrance exams, then preparatory course students when I was at Centrale Paris and finally engineering school students when I was with Smart Impulse. It’s a way for me to share knowledge and experience. And it has helped me train myself in emotional and relational intelligence, which makes it easier to get perspective on your emotions, particularly in a professional context,” he says.
This fan of mindfulness meditation adds: “You go from being an apprentice boss to a more responsive, agile boss. From being scared to knowing what you want. Ultimately, it’s an engineer’s approach: how you function as a person.”
But teaching alone is not enough to satisfy this active young man. His friends introduce him to permaculture, and he fully immerses himself in the subject, as is his way, by reading up about it, doing work placements, and meeting people. He creates a board game called “Supermaculture”, which he self-publishes in 2018 and which sells some 2,000 copies. “Next, I tried to develop a new project based on agroecology, but I gave up after a year. I couldn’t find an idea that delivered enough value.” He then turns his attention to the Gaïactica adventure.
The project, which is part-financed by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, is now in the deployment phase. In addition to the Gaïactica experience in Bordeaux where he moved three years ago (“I made a lifestyle choice to split my time between Paris and Bordeaux,” says Tourin-Lebret who comes from Antony in the Paris region), he plans to set up the escape room in three or four other cities in France by the end of 2020.
The concept is also being implemented in businesses as part of CSR training programmes and policies.