Is an engineer born or made?
I have an anecdote that may answer your question. When I was 7 years old they gave me my first bicycle, the first thing any child would have done would have been to ride it and try it out. I disassembled it piece by piece to understand how it worked.
Oysters! This is vocational!
Our parents had a car repair shop, I was happy there, working in the shop. But they, I think with good judgment, conditioned my continuing in the workshop on my going to university after graduating from high school.
“When I was 7 years old they gave me my first bicycle, the first thing any child would have done would have been to ride it and test it. I took it apart piece by piece to understand how it worked”
And how could it not be any other way….
I chose mechanical engineering which was what seemed most coherent to me. There were other engineerings but the one that had all the ingredients to like me was clearly that one.
Were expectations met?
After a very hard first year of mathematics and physics, yes. From second grade onwards we begin to put into practice everything we have learned and create, and then put it into practice and build.
A complicated race…
The first year, out of 200 students, less than 20% remained.
Out of curiosity, what happened to the workshop where you liked to work in high school?
During my studies I realized that beyond understanding and repairing I liked to imagine and create, and the mechanical workshop did not give me that. There I saw that my journey would not go through the workshop.
When does inflatable architecture appear in your life?
In my time, when you were about to finish your degree, the same university referred you to companies that were looking for recent graduates or students who were about to finish. They offered me an interview with a company that was dedicated to producing inflatables and a few days later I joined as director of the technical office. That’s where it all started. I was hooked by the creativity and design required for each project. It was like starting from 0 every time. You learned each time that the technical basis was the same, but starting a project somehow meant starting from scratch again.
When does one decide to take the step and start their own company?
Well, it is a combination of factors, first you start thinking that things can be done better than in the company you work for and you do not have or are not given the possibility of implementing the changes you see. Around that time, the crisis of the 90s hit us, which hit the industrial sector especially hard. The company I worked for was not going very well and among those of us who connected best in the company, we decided to strike out on our own without looking back. The freedom of creating a company and running it yourself passes through the minds of many workers, the difference is that we not only thought about it, we did it.
There, Area Cúbica was born, the parent company of Sky Bubbles, a company dedicated to the development and manufacturing of inflatable architecture products.
How were the beginnings?
All beginnings are usually difficult and in our case it was no exception. We started in a small apartment in Vidreres (Girona), there were 3 of us, we divided the tasks between sales, engineering and technical drafting and we looked for sewing companies to make the pieces for us before delivery. If the day had 24 hours, at that time we worked 23, the excitement of seeing a project like ours grow was worth everything.
You have to work a lot and I understand that you earn little at first. Didn’t your parents tell you, “Xavier, please, look for a job that pays well and work 8 hours with weekends off and stop talking about stories”?
No, my situation then was easy to do what I did, I was single, I spent little because I spent the day working and I lived at my parents’ house. I guess they thought that if it went wrong, it would be a good learning experience.
In fact, of the three partners, the one who was embarking on an advanced family project lasted a year and a half and I understand it. Between what we worked and what we earned, there was no reason to think about quality of life or time and money.
Was there any “We left it” moment?
We never liked it, we trusted and knew that what we were doing was good!
“Skybubbles do not understand cultures or customs, they are a concept that works in any country as long as there is a well-defined project behind it”
What do you think has distinguished Area Cúbica and subsequently Sky Bubbles in the market?
Innovation and excellence, without a doubt. We are always thinking about how to do it better and in my case, I am not exaggerating, I still review and do some of the finishing of our pieces to ensure our quality standard. It’s not that the people we have don’t do it well, but I have always liked to be involved not only in design and processes, but also in manufacturing, and it shows.
It’s also an added headache, isn’t it?
Yes, I’m not going to lie to you, paying attention to the details takes time. But it’s a way of being, it’s not something I can choose, sometimes it’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a headache.
Let’s go to the Skybubbles, what’s different about them?
Everything, we launched with my brother in 2016 because we were clear that it was a groundbreaking concept, that we would be able to make it unique and that it was a replicable and global idea. Skybubbles do not understand cultures or customs, they are a concept that works in any country as long as there is a well-defined project behind it.
And at the production level?
It allows us to get closer to perfection, assuming that perfection does not exist. With the Cubic Area inflatables we start, in the technical part, from scratch each time. With Skybubbles we build and improve on the same concept continuously and that allows us to have total control over the product and perfect it more and more.
If I ask you how you see the future of Skybubbles, what would you answer?
It can only bring us good news, the market for luxury resorts and hotel chains is more receptive than ever to ideas to differentiate themselves, and due to their quality and cost, Skybubbles can be the definitive alternative to a stay model that breaks with standards traditional. The future will be exciting for sure.
Thank you Xavier and good luck on your journey!
Thanks to you!