We Met at King's: Innovators, rain or shine

Antoine Gros (Mathematics, 2013) and Aurélien Rinaldi (Mathematics with Management and Finance, 2013) founders of innovative accessories brand Beau Nuage.  

Antoine: Our business, Beau Nuage, focuses on creating accessories that solve common problems. The idea for our first product – an umbrella that we hope will revolutionise the accessories industry – actually came to us when Aurélien and I were eating burgers in Covent Garden.  

Aurélien: It was raining, as it so often does in London, and we remarked to each other how surprising it was that no one had come up with a more practical umbrella design. Nothing much has changed with umbrella design; people face the same frustrations that they did years ago.

Antoine: We decided that we’d create something that addressed people’s most common complaints, and produced a revolutionary cover that absorbs water so that your umbrella stays dry. We’ve also developed an affordable, state-of-the-art umbrella that’s flexible and robust, and whose handle adapts to the user.

Aurélien: There’s so much focus on digital innovation these days, but we want to improve people’s lives with simple, practical inventions. The umbrella is just the start!

Antoine: We’ve always shared a desire to find the most straight forward solutions. Aurélien was the first person I sat next to, and our friendship grew from there. I’d come to King’s to meet people from all over the world, so I was surprised to find out he was also French!

Aurélien: Once we graduated, I went back to France to do a Master’s and Antoine stayed in London to continue his studies. I returned again in my placement year and we resumed plans for Beau Nuage. We love London, and our time together at King’s was really transformative.

Antoine: We particularly loved spending time in the Maughan Library. While revising, we’d stay until 2 or 3am; it was a magical environment in which to discover we actually liked the idea of working hard! I also have to thank Professor Simon Scott for encouraging me to study Pure maths – it taught me how to be analytical and rigorous, but most of all it made me like solving problems, which is very important whenever you want to create something!

Aurélien: We’re both problem solvers, but the hardest thing we’ve learnt since starting Beau Nuage is how important finance is. Between us, we had the engineering knowledge and design contacts to make our prototype, but raising the capital to go into production – even when stores already want to stock our products – has been the biggest challenge. Our next goal is to expand our sales to the UK market.

Antoine:  Luckily, we support each other; I would never advise someone to start a business on their own. It’s really important to have someone else for those difficult decisions, but, more importantly, motivation spreads like fire when you share a dream!

Aurélien: You’re never the smartest by yourself, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice from the people and networks around you. Don’t be afraid to let people challenge your ideas; it’s always beneficial.

Antoine: And don’t be afraid to start – you learn quickly, so just do it!