At Boostalab

14 March 2023

8 min.

Interview with Mélanie and Solime, Cofounders of Boostalab

Solime always knows how to make us laugh, and he always finds the right word to summarize our ideas. As for Mélanie, she constantly amazes us with her talent for finding the positive aspect in any challenge that we may face. She’s an expert at helping us take a step back, regardless of the situation. Learn more about Solime and Mélanie, Boostalab’s two cofounders.

How did you know that you wanted to work together?

Solime: Mélanie and I worked together at Cirque du Soleil. At that time, we never thought that the two of us would ever start a company.

A few years later, we took a training session together at HEC Montreal called Reinventing Organizations.

We had such a strong desire to reinvent organizations! I remember that we missed part of the training because we were having coffee and talking about making it happen together.

We shook hands on it over a cafeteria table at HEC. We didn’t know the form it would take, and we didn’t know everything we know today, but that’s when we decided that we would work together.

How did the Boostalab adventure being?

Solime: It started really progressively.

Mélanie: Yes, because we had made a firm commitment to make something happen. After that, we started talking about how we saw the world of work, and also how we envisioned the future of our practices. We then shared our dreams, and it was through sharing these ideas and dreams that we came up with an initial company concept. Over the discussions that we had together, something a bit more concrete started to emerge. We asked each other, “should we jump in?” We shook hands for a second time, and that’s when we jumped into action with our first business plan!

Solime: We started very small with a prototype, with very little money, on a shoestring. We knew that we wanted to build practical guides because we had five of them!
Then, we needed a technology platform, but Mélanie and I aren’t experts, so we asked around our networks. Mathieu helped us put together a platform and post the five guides that we were offering for free at that time. We wanted to know whether there was an interest and whether we would get downloads. We started on a very small scale. Boostalab didn’t exist yet, but everything went quickly after that.

Mélanie: There was really an interest in democratizing access to sources of professional development content. This topic spoke to a lot of people.
We realized that our intention to reinvent the world of work, by giving people concrete tools and inspiring them, inspired a lot of people to take action! We started receiving requests for other guides and proposals to develop guides. We said, “OK, we have something interesting here. It’s pretty solid.”

That’s when we officially founded Boostalab.

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How would you describe Boostalab?

Solime: The willingness to transform organizations is the basis of our work; we do this by transforming relationships between team members and by focusing on soft skills. Developing soft skills isn’t easy. We learn a lot of things in school, especially technical things, but we don’t necessarily learn people skills.

So, what we do at Boostalab is finding the best way to help people work better together as teams.

Mélanie: And the common thread that we’ve had from the start was giving work teams the tools they need to take action on their own. It’s about making them as independent as possible, democratizing access to all sorts of tools, so that teams can develop and progress on their own, and organizations can evolve on their own. We do this by developing everything that falls under the umbrella of soft skills.

What does Boostalab provide?

Mélanie: Our signature product is our learning experience platform that helps teams work better together on a daily basis.

Solime: We offer three things to make this possible: the content, the learning methodology, and the supporting technology.

The microcontent is as hands-on as possible about the skill that we want to develop.

Second, in terms of the method, we facilitate learning trajectories that bring people together and allow them to help one another in their learning, question each other, and go further than they would have individually. We also provide them with the opportunity to take on challenges in order to change their behaviours.

Third, the technology that supports this makes the content easily accessible and facilitates team discussions in-between learning workshops.

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Who can benefit from Boostalab’s solutions?

Mélanie: The beauty of it is that it’s for everyone, for small or large teams. Small or large organizations, public, parapublic, private, everyone needs to find a way to work better together, to develop their skills, so at Boostalab, the learning solutions we develop are aimed at and reach everyone.

How do you see the future of training and learning?

Solime: That’s a good question! Probably because no one really knows the best recipe for developing soft skills yet. Our mission, our challenge is figuring out how to make learning as simple, as fun and as motivating as possible within a team.

Our vision is to constantly refine this methodology and the supporting technology.

We don’t want to take up too much time in the daily lives of learners because everyone is swamped. So, how can we pace all of this to give them the best possible learning experience? That’s our vision of learning; it’s about constantly learning about the best methodology to implement.

What do you think about hybrid work models?

Mélanie: The generalized implementation of hybrid work arrangements within organizations triggered something that was probably already brewing. There is dissatisfaction among many workers with the level of connection, collaboration and communication.

It made it clear that there was a need to find ways of doing things differently. It’s a perfect opportunity for redefining our ways of working together, collaborating and communicating. We clearly see that organizations are more concerned about benevolence, empathy, well-being and stress management. These are recurring themes.

For us, the concern that organizations have for hearing their people is reassuring. It means that we’re on the right track to finding a way to balance well-being and performance. Thank goodness for hybrid work, with all its challenges, of course, but especially for all the world of opportunities it gives us.

What is your greatest source of pride at Boostalab?

Mélanie: The team! It’s wonderful to see. We started with two people. Seeing our team dynamic positively evolve each time that a new person arrives; seeing the sparkle in someone’s eyes when we realize the impact that we have on organizations and how we’re achieving our mission; this super passionate and excited team is my greatest source of pride.

Solime: My greatest source of pride is seeing the positive impact that we have on our clients. The discussions they’re able to have as a result of the opportunity that they’ve created. Seeing that team members are allowed to discuss certain things. Hearing managers say, “Hey, we never allowed ourselves to talk about ourselves this way!” Bringing some authenticity and bringing conversations to the next level. We want to change organizations, and that’s the key: a bit more authenticity and allowing people to talk to each other about what’s important.

What would you do the same way or differently?

Solime: We’re cautious by nature. I think we could have hired people faster. It took time before we paid ourselves a salary. We actually had to recruit someone to pay ourselves a salary! Looking back now, we realize that as soon as we started hiring, we were able to achieve a faster growth rate. As soon as we added other players, we noticed that we could pick up speed. So, we should have done that earlier.

What continues to surprise you at Boostalab?

Mélanie: What never stops to surprise me is the feedback that we get from the market, from our clients. What amazes me is their willingness to do things differently, and that’s exciting for us. It pushes us to evolve and improve our learning solutions.

Solime: What surprises me at Boostalab is the organizational culture that’s forming within the team. It’s a culture with a lot of benevolence, client focus and humanity.

What is your vision of the learning organization in the next few years?

Solime: I feel that in the next few years, people will realize that being a learning organization is what it takes to have a good performance, from an organizational standpoint.

Right now, it’s a way of thinking that people can adhere to or not, it’s in the literature. Yet, it’s probably the ONLY way to go.

Many organizations are thinking about the type of culture they should implement. A culture of learning is what helps an organization remain relevant. An organization needs to be focused on learning to ensure its sustainability.