Posted on Nov 16, 2022 at 8:15 am
Every year since its inception in 2019, the new curator public crier has chained fundraising: 2, 4, then 11 million euros. Antonio Pinto, its co-founder, planned to iterate in late 2022, with a target of 15 million.
But that was before French Tech’s funding floodgates tightened. Last May, the businessman felt the storm coming and realized that it would be impossible to get financing.
To ensure the sustainability of his startup and save some of his employees, he undertook a radical change in model: leaving BtoC and neo-union activity, incompatible, according to him, with the financial efficiency now sought by investors.
Over the summer, the 120-employee company launched a job protection plan and 55 people, mostly tenants, left. “A very difficult moment, with the full spectrum of reactions that this type of announcement can generate. We created a psychological unit, accompanied the conversions or creations of companies and wrote letters of recommendation”, says António Pinto.
Targeting “little curators”
Since then, 22 people have found jobs (with competitors or traditional curators), 8 have been requalified and 13 managers have moved to the franchise model, specifies the entrepreneur.
This model, started in 2021, consists of the sale of the Bellman brand and tool, as well as part of the condominium portfolio, to administrators, who will now act as independent. The latter also benefit from co-ownership assistants and accountants who are still employed by the start-up. This offer is similar to the one offered by unicorn IAD with their real estate agents.
And Bellman recently marketed software aimed at traditional co-owned curators. In essence, after wanting to replace them, the young scion chose to go with them. “Originally, we wanted to fix a market problem: managers who say they don’t have the resources to do everything and co-owners who are actually unhappy. Their business is very complex, and our obsession remains the same”, specifies the businessman, who has just closed his first two contracts with liquidators of one hundred condominiums each.
The start-up targets “small admins” or “half the market” with its homegrown software. It must be said that relations do not go well with the giants of the sector, curators and professional associations. Earlier this year, Bellman stood out with a provocative ad that assimilated co-owners to followers of sadomasochism if they stayed with their traditional curator.
A “bridge” worth 3 million euros
“Some laughed, others were offended. What that announcement showed us was that the market was really divided. You have four big players and thousands of small companies that want to do well”, insists the director.
To put a foot in the stirrup and orchestrate his pivot, Bellman benefits from an internal round table (a “bridge” in the jargon) of 3 million euros with Breega, the family of Eric Setton (Iserda) and the Swiss fund Lakestar. The young filmmaker assigned 500 condominiums to its 20 franchised managers, who pay fees for using its software, allowing the start-up to claim an annual recurring income of 1 million euros. About 20% could not be taken on due to lack of managers.
The entrepreneur also adds the function of rent management, a strategy that has also just been implemented by Matera, a start-up that provides advice to curators of co-ownership cooperatives. With the software, the company can sell at any time of the year, when a liquidator only manages to conquer the market about twice a year, during general meetings of co-ownership.
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