papernest has just successfully closed its €10 M Series A. A chance for Philippe Collombel and Marie-Hortense Varin of Partech Ventures to discuss their new adventure with the papernest co-founders, Philippe de la Chevasnerie and Benoît Fabre.
papernest is a digital platform that manages all your paperwork when you move homes: how did it all begin?
Philippe de la Chevasnerie: We got the idea in 2015 when we were moving, with our previous experience of 23 stressful moves between us! Electricity, gas, internet… We dreamed of having a single platform to get it all done fast and smoothly, but it didn’t exist. So, we built it ourselves under the name Souscritoo, which has since been re-baptized papernest.
Benoît Fabre: In just a few clicks and in less than 10 minutes, we help home movers to deal with all the paperwork for their move: electricity bills, internet subscription, home insurance, mail transfer…It’s entirely free for our clients. We are paid by our partner suppliers whenever the platform brings them a new customer. We have just reached the 100,000-customers mark and the potential is huge.
Philippe de la Chevasnerie: That’s true. Every year in France, 3.6 million households move home. In Europe, the market is over 15 million households per annum and 25 million in the US. Today 90% of households do their own paperwork and we are the only platform that enables users to easily manage all their paperwork online, free of charge.
Why did you decide to support Papernest’s development?
Marie-Hortense Varin: Several aspects weighed on our investment decision. First of all, we were amazed by their ability to deliver a compelling product very quickly and with very little resources. Their product vision was very clear from day one and thanks to Benoit’s excellent technical expertise, the team managed to quickly deploy and execute on this plan. We also appreciated papernest’s unique positioning as a strategic acquisition channel for their partners, and not as just another price comparison website. Finally, they started by addressing the needs of people moving home – who need to cope with the stress of multiple administrative tasks at the same time – which gave them a very specific angle to enter the market.
Philippe Collombel: papernest offers a brand new service that helps consumers find the best service at the best price, differing from comparators who focus solely on the best price. Their platform can deliver long-term support and assistance, freeing their customers from administrative constraints and creating a lasting relationship. What differentiates them from existing offers is that they seek to engage their customers on the long-term rather than for a one-off transaction. Thanks to papernest, suppliers can acquire new customers that are not motivated by price only. And papernest doesn’t put pressure on supplier’s margins. On the contrary, it ensures better long-term retention of the consumers unlikely to leave for the first promotional offer that comes their way.
In addition, we looked at several companies, especially in Germany and in the UK, that focused on organizing the moving itself. We were not convinced, especially because it is a one-shot approach. And this market has proven to be a difficult one. papernest on the contrary, grasps the opportunity to acquire the customer when he moves, but has the potential to establish a long-standing relationship with him.
How did you manage to generate sales and revenues in such a short time?
Benoît Fabre: I believe that if we succeeded so fast, it is because we worked a lot upstream and adopted a very lean approach: it enabled us to move quickly from day one, be agile and remain reasonable in our strategic choices. In addition, we put a lot of emphasis on testing our product and once tested, we were very rigorous in deploying effective processes to capitalize on value. Lastly, we are really focused on recruiting top profiles because we know they’ll stay with us for a long time and can take over in many areas. But our true strength lies in our product. It demanded a lot of development and we enhance it regularly to continue to offer a great user experience.
Philippe de la Chevasnerie: Once we managed to convince suppliers to partner with us, and after we started marketing our brand to acquire households during their move, we quickly faced a major operational challenge to deliver on the fast traction. But we managed to rapidly scale up our structure and process automation to successfully handle the volume and to offer our customers the most seamless and intuitive experience possible.
Philippe Collombel: With very little resources, papernest managed to attract stressed-out home movers. This is impressive, especially given the size of the market! Their remarkable track record played a lot in our investment decision.
How would you describe your working relationship?
Philippe de la Chevasnerie: Well, we are very complementary and our roles are clearly defined: I am in charge of acquisitions, product and strategy while Benoit focuses on all aspects of operations, web application and development processes. I really enjoy the commercial aspect of the business, such as convincing suppliers to follow us!
Benoit Fabre: I prefer the operational side and processes. I started with operations and at the beginning, this aspect was the most time-consuming, as our first challenge was to deliver the best contracts and the most seamless user experience possible to our customers. I like getting to the bottom of things in detail and improving on any complex situations our users may encounter. I also manage the development team on the product side.
Philippe Collombel: Besides their complementarity, we appreciate their analytical approach and their strong ambition. They want to build a large company and have given themselves the means to achieve this goal. In a sense, Benoit and Philippe are typical of a new breed of young French entrepreneurs. They are very discrete (you don’t see them hanging around at many start-ups events), very humble but have a huge ambition. We love this attitude at Partech.
What are your development plans for the €10 million you just raised?
Benoit Favre: We’ll use the funds to continue to invest heavily in our product, as this is key to our success. Today, we are the only platform on the market that provides this type of offering. The funds will also help launch our activity in Europe and accelerate our domestic growth.
What do you expect from Partech Ventures?
Philippe de la Chevasnerie: We are thrilled to have Partech Ventures as our investor, because they provide us with extremely structured and relevant strategic and executive advice. We expect to benefit from their guidance and insight gained from their extensive experience in supporting startups, their strong business network and connections, their advice on best hires and lastly, their external perspective on our strategy so that we can move faster.
Philippe Collombel: papernest can effectively rely on our support on many different levels: recruitment, strategic positioning, networking, international expansion….
Benoit Fabre: Our relationship with Marie-Hortense and Philippe from Partech is very fruitful: we get along really well and they never hesitate to challenge us and push us to take things one step further.
Marie-Hortense Varin: We try to help as much as we can, by bringing past experience from adjacent businesses – for instance Fintech. It should help papernest for their future developments.
Philippe Collombel: Yes, we are convinced that in the long run, papernest has the potential to extend their value proposition far beyond the home moving market. The story is only starting and if you think twice, papernest could emerge as a fintech company…