Alexandre Prot

Alexandre Prot studied at lycée Henri IV and HEC Paris, and then went into business alongside Steve Anavi to found Smokio, a smart e-cigarette company. After the company was acquired, Prot and Anavi went on to found Qonto, a neobank designed to serve the SME and freelancer market, after they experienced frustrations with traditional banking in their previous venture.

Training:

Alexandre Prot studied at Lycee Henri IV in 2002 for his bachelors, then completed a masters in Finance at HEC Paris in 2006. In 2010 he decided to make a change and completed an MBA at INSEAD, in preparation for going into entrepreneurship.

Career:

Alexandre Prot went into business alongside Steve Anavi, whom he met on the benches of the Alsatian School, fell out of contact with, and then found again at a party by chance. The two of them created Smokio, a company that specialized in creating Bluetooth-connected electronic cigarettes.

Although the e-cigarette is fairly standard at first glance, the Smokio product uses Bluetooth to connect to an Android or iOS device. Through the free application, the user can monitor key data and manage functions of the electronic cigarette like altering the amount of vapor given off with each puff or checking the charge status of the battery. It also allowed the user more in-depth information however, such as where they used the e-cigarette, how often they were smoking and how many puffs they had taken over a time frame.

Alexandre Prot was in charge of finances at Smokio, and it was during this period that he experienced the frustrations that would lead him to create Qonto. He found that the banking solutions available for businesses were time-consuming and difficult to use, while often lacking modern tools that he needed. Alexandre and Steve would go on to interview hundreds of other entrepreneurs and freelancers, and they quickly found that their frustrations were shared.

Shortly after Smokio was acquired by a Fortune 500 company in 2015, Alexandre and Steve founded Qonto with the idea of providing a simple, transparent finance solution for SMEs and freelancers that would simplify everything from everyday banking to bookkeeping and spending management.

 

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Anecdotes

Alexandre is the son of Baudouin Prot, an influential banker who headed the BNP Paribas group during the financial crisis of 2008. While his father went with the traditional banking route, Prot went for something more disruptive, focusing on the start-ups and SME ecosystem, ultimately competing with his father’s ‘old world’ of traditional banking.

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