Florian Petit , 39
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
Blickfeld was founded with the automotive industry in mind. What inspired the company’s creation was my time at Stanford University in 2008. That was when I got to work with lidar sensors as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge. The lidar system, which was developed for the first autonomous cars, used huge sensors to detect the surrounding environment. That is what sparked my fascination. Blickfeld was started to develop a lidar technology that allows for smaller, more robust, production-scalable sensors. A microchip-type sensor was our dream. In a way, that is what our product is now. That was my first contact with the automotive industry.
Your greatest achievement?
When it comes to numbers, Blickfeld is my biggest achievement to date. We have raised more than $40 million in funding. We built a 140-person team and have customers in the triple digits. This is something we as a company are immensely proud of. On a personal note, I hope that one day I can say my greatest achievement was to raise a son who is open-minded, a nature lover, who is aware of his surroundings, confident, nice but also someone who knows what he wants.
Family: Wife; son, 1
Born: Munich, Germany
Nationality: German and Luxembourgish
Languages: German, English, basic French
Education: Doctorate in electrical engineering, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; bachelor’s degree in engineering, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I have experienced many failures in my career and my life. However, I recognized early on that failures are important. Each failure teaches us something. My life motto is: If you don’t make any mistakes, you’re going too slow.
What is your current challenge at work?
We are working diligently on Blickfeld’s internationalization. While it’s a great opportunity, it’s also a challenge for our team. We are working on ways to keep everyone in the loop despite working in several time zones. We are quite optimistic that we will find a solution. Overall, our growth is both a blessing and a challenge. While rapid expansion is super exciting it also means our communication and processes need to adapt.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
2016-present: Founder, Blickfeld, Munich, Germany
2012-2015: Earning a doctorate in electrical engineering from ETH Zurich
2009-2014: Research scientist, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
2008: Visiting researcher, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
While robust, well-developed technology is hugely important in the automotive industry, that in itself isn’t enough. The industry is challenging. To succeed, you need to meet high process standards and quality requirements.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I want to be working in a job that I enjoy and that fascinates me. Currently, that has to be something innovative and deeply technical. I also enjoy working with customers and am really intrigued by software and data. However, I’m primarily an entrepreneur. That’s why the job I will love doing in the future may not exist yet, let alone have a name!
What do you do to relax?
I spend time with my family, go bouldering and enjoy time spent in nature.
What is your dream location to live?
I would really like to be somewhere close to the sea.I would really like to be somewhere close to the sea.
What is your favorite driving song?
The motor’s sound. Even my son already knows how to sing along!
What was your favorite road trip and why?
It was actually a boat trip. After I finished my doctorate, I bought a boat. I spent 20 months sailing across the Atlantic and through the Caribbean. It was an amazing time during which I learned so much. What I learned actually helped me as we founded Blickfeld. I learned to trust in my own capabilities, how to make decisions as well as how to react to the unforeseen and unexpected.
What was your first car?
A Renault Scenic. It was probably 15 years old when I got it.
A Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be a next-gen Tesla. The one which will include a Blickfeld lidar, of course! I love Tesla’s innovative spirit. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before Elon Musk realizes he needs a lidar for safe autonomous functions.