Posted on Jan 26, 2023, 7:08 am
They are start-ups and yet they get their hands dirty. Plaster, plaster, carpentry, plumbing… For a few years now, young renovation companies have wanted to digitize a sector as old as the world: construction. Targeting individuals, mostly urban, with comfortable income and ready to buy a form of peace of mind.
“One in two French people is not satisfied with their work. We offer support from A to Z: administrative reflection, selection of materials, design phase, production, follow-up…” says Matthieu Burin, co-founder of Hemea, a start-up born in 2015, which announces a funding round of 10 million of euros (2 million in debt) with the proptech fund of LBO France and Daphni, its historic investor.
This architecture and renovation studio captures 10 to 15% of the total budget for the work. With an average basket of 50,000 euros and monitoring of 450 websites per month. This new money will allow the start-up to accelerate the energy renovation part of its projects, driven by new regulations and, in particular, the ban on renting energy filters in the coming years. This activity represents 30% of the start-up’s work, which subcontracts part of the financing to fintech Heero, specialized in this vertical.
Hemea also wants to strengthen its regional presence and increase to nine physical branches in the territory. A lever to reassure future customers, who sometimes hesitate to invest large sums through a platform. Even more so when it is word of mouth that traditionally predominates in this sector.
A well-known challenge from Amandine Merle, co-founder of Plum. “Going through the process of spending several thousand euros on an online site without having seen the product is always complex”, estimates the boss. His start-up allows individuals and interior designers (30%) to customize kitchens, bathrooms or dressing rooms using furniture from Ikea.
The challenge is to make the customer project themselves “like in a store”, believes the founder. And just to name a few: “To make the website experience as easy as possible, create lots of beautiful visuals, develop content…” By investing in marketing and expanding its offerings, Plum reached a turnover of 11 million euros in 2022, compared to 8 million in the previous year. Already present in Germany, it should be installed in the United Kingdom next April.
invest in marketing
The young burst, who does mostly carpentry, produces her orders in Portugal, Germany and France. The year 2022 was marked by high inflation in raw materials, with price increases between “5 and 20%”, says Amandine Merle. If in the first six months the company reduced its margins, they ended up synchronized with inflation.
Other start-ups also have to deal with mortgage denials from individuals. The now monthly increase in the usury rate (the maximum interest rate at which banks can lend) brings them a breath of fresh air. “70% of the work is related to loans. The current situation shows us that they don’t fall into the water, but that they stagger”, comments the boss of Hemea, who is also developing a BtoB brick, through software aimed at entrepreneurs present on the platform.
In turn, the start-up Little Worker from Bordeaux opted to be a general works contractor, unlike Hemea, which does mediation. Specifically, the start-up offers its customers a package to renovate their homes, then chooses and pays the artisans. “We carry out the entire design of the project with in-house architects. We also order all the materials and thus control the domestication times”, develops Aurélien Bros, the co-founder, present in seven French cities.
Additionally, there is a vertical real estate search to help its clients find properties and renovate them by start-up. According to the latest available figures, Little Worker generated €21 million in revenue in 2021. The start-up greatly extended its losses that year, namely by investing in marketing to attract customers. The sinews of war for many BtoC start-ups.
> Fundraising, decryptions, key figures… In order not to miss any news from French Tech and start-ups, subscribe to our newsletter > register