Belgian startup HelloHouston raises half a million euros

TThree years after its launch, the HelloHouston start-up continues to attract new customers and investors. A solution that has proven itself in the field and is constantly innovating, offering great prospects for the future today.

We are not called HelloHouston for nothing: the young Belgian company dreams big and sees far! It has just taken a new step in its development by managing to raise half a million euros from several investors, with Sambrinvest and Be Angels in the lead. The challenge was great, because HelloHouston operates in a sector little known to investors, although of strategic importance and decidedly towards the future: the computerized management of technical maintenance, mainly in factories and centers.

It all started in 2019. During a conversation, Stéphane Colle and Bertrand Morel, in their thirties, made the same observation: the existing solutions for the technical management of equipment are extremely complex, not very intuitive and not very mobile. The two friends know what they are talking about. The first, with an MBA from Insead, worked at Microsoft and AB Inbev. The second is a civil engineer and has eight years of experience in the nuclear sector. “So we said to ourselves, why not combine our skills to create a simple, mobile and efficient product? “recalls Stéphane Colle. The countdown has started.

One new customer per month, mainly in the food industry

This product is the HelloHouston platform, a digital tool for managing technical maintenance (“CMMS” in industry jargon) that stands out in particular for its mobile aspect, its quick and very intuitive handling, its high level of customization, and the its all-in-one dimension that allows you to centralize a large amount of data.

Benefits that quickly caught on. “Since the commercial launch of the platform two years ago, we’ve had a new major customer every month,” says Stéphane Colle. “We quickly realized that the most pressing need was in companies with internal technical teams and for which technical management is strategic. In an industrial site, if one production line breaks down, everything stops. Our current main customers come from the agri-food sector: whether they are production sites or logistics centres, they must avoid breakdowns at all costs”.

From the vicious circle of repairs to the virtuous circle of prevention

Concretely, how does HelloHouston work? The digital platform, accessible via tablet, mobile phone or computer, has three interfaces: one for operators, another for technicians and another for maintenance managers. Thanks to a QR code system, frontline operators can report a technical problem, be informed about planned or ongoing interventions, and even solve some problems themselves – which represents a significant source of savings. Technicians, in turn, receive intervention requests and can plan them in a simple and coordinated way. Through the platform they have access to a lot of information such as the technical specificities of a machine, the history of interventions, etc. The connectors placed directly on the equipment also make it possible to plan some interventions, such as the preventive technical inspection of a production machine or even a truck. All this data, accessible at a click, is also very useful for maintenance or quality managers, in the case of a FASFC inspection, for example.

Satisfied Technicians: A Good Indicator of Success

“Maintenance work in the food industry is difficult and there is a high turnover of staff. We seek to make life easier for all these people and reduce their stress, simplifying communication between them and allowing them to regain control over equipment management”. Technicians in particular spend less time chasing down faults and doing administrative work and can spend more time on preventive equipment management… “We get a lot of positive feedback from technicians who appreciate HelloHouston”, explains Stéphane Glue. “We are also seeing a network effect. Satisfied with our services, several companies recommended us. This is our greatest achievement”.

A digital tool designed to put people back in the heart of the factory, that’s what HelloHouston offers. A proximity and flexibility that the young company is keen to cultivate also in its contacts with its customers: “First we listen to their needs, their problems. This listening and our flexibility make all the difference”.

Energy savings, job creation… bright prospects for 2023

In 2023, HelloHouston intends to take on an ambitious challenge: to fine-tune its predictive offer. Thanks to the sensors that directly connect the equipment to the platform and thanks to the analysis of the data centralized there, HelloHouston will be able to offer its customers concrete actions, mainly in terms of energy savings. “We want to offer our customers a real view of the energy consumption of each of their machines”, specifies Bertrand Morel. “This monitoring will allow them to reduce their costs as much as possible, both economically and environmentally, and optimize their fleet of equipment in the medium and long term”. Knowing that the HelloHouston platform already has the advantage, in terms of ecology, of avoiding waste: “in the food industry, a variation of a few degrees in a refrigerator or a production line, and everything has to be thrown away. Fewer breakdowns means less food waste.”

Next year, a mobile application will also be developed, as well as the HelloHouston Academy, a set of interactive media that will allow greater autonomy to its customers. So many projects that combine technology and simplicity and reflect the identity of HelloHouston, a dynamic start-up whose name is a playful allusion to a highly technical universe.

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