Winning the Lépine competition is not necessary to create a viable business. Without revolutionizing their universe from A to Z, a designer can also be inventive, pragmatic and flexible in the way they run their business. “An innovative business model has as much potential as a technological innovation. For example, it may prove profitable to adapt a sector’s management method to its own domain, ”assures Matthieu Somekh, director of Marseille’s incubator ZeBox.
To accommodate a model is precisely the strategy that Jean-Baptiste Massif follows. Three years ago, this 41-year-old former wealth manager, with a hipster look, Quasiaqui, created a real estate platform based on the principle of rent with option to buy (LOA), very common in the real estate sector. At the end of the contract, the apartment tenant can either acquire the property or return it to the owner. “We allow people who are solvent but who do not fit into the networks of traditional banks, such as freelancers, to access property.” The start-up of 10 people is paid for by agencies (499 euros to access the service and 12% commission of the fees received) and is aimed at 500 referenced agencies and around 400 transactions by 2020.
think out of the box
Another example with IconoClass. Marie Taquet, 25, has translated the famous “Satisfied or your money back” guarantee into her sales school, which was founded in 2018. With its slogan “Rent or your money back”, IconoClass undertakes to donate tuition fees to students who cannot find some work. in the six months following the completion of their education. And if they want, students can pay for their tuition after signing their CDI. A valid principle for the 20 new students who started teaching at the beginning of the year. With confidence in the ability of good salespeople to get a job, Marie Taquet, a former headhunter, counts on “the reservoir of talent just waiting to be hatched and on the SMEs or start-ups that demand them”.
Iconoclast, Antoine Huvé is also one in his own way. This 37-year-old real estate specialist set up recherchemonid.com in 2015. A company that is reversing the traditional pattern of real estate on the internet. Instead of placing ads online, the site asks individuals for specific information about the property they are looking for. Customer files are then sent to agents established in that geographic area. If one of them has an offer that “matches”, he suggests it. The start-up (10 people) is paid by taking a commission. According to the founder, who has raised 3 million euros since its launch, this inverted model responds well to market developments. “Today, each ad triggers dozens of responses, not always very serious. Thanks to our system, the real estate agent has the security to trade with clients who have a real buying project.” It claims that 6,000 professionals are registered on its platform.
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Ignoring everything about the sector you are embarking on is also sometimes the best way to be inventive. “Not being immersed in the restaurant business made me think out of the box and innovate in a niche where not much had happened for years,” says Maxim Simon, 38, co-founder of the creperies. Mardi (two restaurants in Paris) and former financial specialist.
Together with his partner, they developed a machine for making pancakes. “We had to save time. We did not know that among crepes it is forbidden to make crepes on anything other than a cheap one. That is why we did it,” he explains. Patented, works perfectly, simply and automatically, their device increases productivity They plan to sell it to other professionals in catering, leisure parks, hotels and events.
Flexibility and curiosity
Thinking out of the box also means agreeing to sell to professionals. Especially when these come to go on your flower beds. Laurence Le Clerc, the founder of the Grimel hat shop in Clisson, near Nantes, caters primarily to the general public. At the same time, she works as a subcontractor for large hat brands, which in theory can overshadow her.
In fact, it interests competitors who are much larger than themselves and who do not have their internal know-how, as well as generalist fashion brands seeking diversification in the world of hats. Its two activities live off of each other. “B to B gives me a regular cash flow, which allows me to create calmly. B to C gives me feedback from individuals, which is helpful in encouraging my professional clients to think about their own collections.”
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Finally, being flexible also means questioning yourself. And to change certain parameters in the model to revive a business in decline. On the ashes of his former company, Gilles Gallo relaunched his solar-powered grill business in 2016. Solar Brother, the name of the new device, abandons bulky models to focus on small formats: lighters or mini-grills, which are much cheaper to sell.
Production has been outsourced to one of its former competitors, and thanks to a design based on the principles of frugal innovation, costs have fallen, making it possible to charge much more affordable public prices (from 9 to 69 euros). The result of these adjustments: Sales are rising again. Distributed in supermarkets (at Nature & Découvertes for example) and at independent retailers, the products generated 310,000 euros in sales last year. Like what, flexibility pays off.
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