Elias Orphelin was born in the summer of 1998, under the sign of the football world cup that took place in France that year, which was not without effect on his destiny. His middle name is Zinedine and since his childhood, he has been dribbling with projects.
“I like to discover new things and I am driven by curiosity, whatever the subject,” explains Elias. “It’s something that came to me as a child and I like to diversify my activities and move quickly from one project to another. Sometimes it’s a problem, but for example, I’m currently on a long report about energy in Africa and the work is progressing well.”
If you’re familiar with the French press, you may have recently come across Elias’ name. He is one of the co-founders of CovidTracker, a data visualization tool permitting to follow the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic in France and around the world, as well as Easynomics, a multi-media platform that seeks to make economics “accessible to all”. At only 22 years old, Elias is committed to decrypting some of society’s most daunting questions.
For The Choice, Elias allowed us to ask him a few questions about his various projects and go behind the scenes on these successful platforms.
Straight to the point …
Besides his passion for the sport, Elias admits that he is not a particularly gifted football player. However that did not stop him from designing a database on the European soccer championship, before starting university, and then, in the wake of this, the blog “Footonomics“, which popularizes the major economic theories through football.
“This project was built up gradually,” adds Elias. “First with a few articles, then by wishing to follow the school’s economics course with the help of the prep class teachers, we have structured it and a book is in preparation.” The book will likely see the light of day in spring 2021, concretizing this work.
Up next, Elias created the blog Easynomics which bridges the gap between economics and many other fields. Today, Easynomics is a “think tank”, a journal and a training institute where you can find articles as well as conferences. The ultimate goal is to establish it as the reference for easy economics. This year, their work so far was recognized with an award for Best Online Student Journal in the Kaleido’scoop competition.
“On Easynomics, we are about ten students and PhD students, all committed volunteers, who are currently involved, each one bringing his or her expertise and knowledge,” says Elias.
Since the first lockdown, Elias has been working in parallel on the “CovidTracker” application, developed with Guillaume Rozier, an engineering student he met on the internet. The application synthesizes and clearly presents information from the French Public Health Government in graphical form using statistical and computer tools.
Elias is currently doing an apprenticeship in a major European industrial group. He now has to manage this new constraint and meet the different requirements, whether they come from the company or the school. For him, the situation is very formative. “One must do things and do them well, being a student is not an excuse for not meeting the expectations of colleagues.”
“It’s funny to see that my activities on Footonomics and Easynomics (creating a website, using Google Analytics …) helped me to perform some of the tasks required in my apprenticeship,” adds Elias. “But the reverse is also true and my work experience enriches the blogs.”
This desire for diverse, simultaneous experiences overflows from Elias’ professional path to both his studies and personal experiences. At ESCP, it led Elias to join a variety of school activities. When he moved to the capital, he successfully integrated by first joining the student association “The Noise”, which focuses on issues related to sustainable development, and then he joined the CoMu (musical comedy), of which he became president last year.
Keys to success
Elias’ work on Easynomics differs from what was previously done in this field, both in content and form. In terms of content, what he does is very specific in the choice of subjects. For the form, he is more concerned with understanding the habits and preferences of the internet user than the pleasure of sharing his knowledge. This focus led his team to a less obvious communication platform for content on economics, “TikTok“.
Within just a month on the application, the whole team was surprised by the number of people who follow “Economics” on this medium intended for a teenage audience. In just over a month, they reached 15K followers and one of their videos on taxes in France earned over 500K views, a level of reach they’d never seen before.
“CovidTraker, on the other hand, fills a void and meets a need,” says Elias. “My work is done thanks to my prep courses. I know how to work on databases, to present them, and thanks to the way I think, I know how to make information accessible.”
Whatever the project, Elias was able to find partners. For “Footonomics”, it was Nathan Granier, also an ESCP student, with whom he co-built it. For “CovidTracker”, it was with Guillaume Rozier. “Easynomics” is running thanks to a team of committed student volunteers.
After the right strategy and the right partners, one of Elias’ keys to success is a healthy lifestyle, with sports activities and rest periods. “I’m a big sleeper,” admits Elias. “I have to sleep at least 8 to 9 hours per night.”
Where will these experiences lead him
Only a few months ago, Elias thought that his passion should become his job. Now, he would prefer to find a job where he could devote himself fully to his work, while keeping parallel passion projects in the evenings or on weekends. As a disseminator of knowledge, a teaching career might also be seen in his future.
In any case, Elias feels that he was born “at the right time”.
“Nowadays, anything is possible. You can very quickly become interested in something and get information. You can organize yourself as you want and do several tasks at the same time. But this has to be chosen and not imposed.”
Currently confined to Paris, he will finally be able to join the London campus soon. Will he be interested in the results of the Champion League or will he start a new activity? Only the future will tell…
Feature photo by Vienna Reyes on Unsplash.