Discussion between Phillipe Collombel, Managing Partner of Partech Ventures and Christian Raisson & Philippe de Chanville, founders of ManoMano
Today, ManoMano is announcing a €60 Million fundraising round led by General Atlantic. An opportunity for the two ManoMano co-founders Christian Raisson and Philippe de Chanville, and Philippe Collombel, Managing Partner of Partech Ventures, to look back on their partnership.
Tell us about your collaboration: how did it all begin?
Christian Raisson: In 2013, when we launched our business, we were driven by one ambition: to make Do-It-Yourself easy and affordable by bringing the largest DIY offering online. Traditionally, marketplaces are backed by an existing e-commerce site but we decided to set up a marketplace from scratch, which was a true challenge. We approached Partech Ventures because we knew that they would appreciate our tech and vertical positioning, our marketplace concept requiring low initial working capital needs, and the size of the DIY market. DIY and gardening is a huge market, worth €30 Billion in France and between €250 and €280 Billion in Europe. It is also a market with very few players and low internet penetration. Our time to market was excellent and Partech Ventures saw that too.
Philippe de Chanville: We really appreciated Partech Ventures’ interest in our company, as DIY is not a naturel market for investors, being quite under the radar. But if you take a closer look, you can see that this sector hasn’t changed much over the past 45 years, and therefore offers huge opportunities. Another point that we liked was Partech Ventures’ solid track record in retail and their recognized vision of its transformation.
Philippe Collombel: We were very interested by their business model, not just as a marketplace but also as a specialty retailer. We were also impressed by the pioneering vision and confidence of the management team. As a matter of fact, when we first met Christian and Philippe, we even thought that their growth objectives were too ambitious and we challenged them. But they delivered on their promises and came back to us. This marked the beginning of a solid relationship and I would like to thank them for their open-mindedness.
How does the ManoMano marketplace stand out from the others?
Philippe Collombel: Their marketplace combines all the key ingredients for success: an extensive catalogue with 1.2 Million references, attractive pricing, a community of mutual assistance between customers and a quality service offering. They are very demanding about the quality of service delivered by their merchants. This consistency quality is crucial to ensure the long-term success of a marketplace.
This service aspect truly distinguished ManoMano from competition with services such as Supermano, which connects consumers with professional and amateur handymen.
And their rapid growth — they now generate a 1 Million euro turnover per day! — combined with controlled costs is even more remarkable for a marketplace business model, as it requires simultaneous growth of sellers and buyers. I believe that ManoMano is one of the biggest Internet success stories in Europe and one of the most impressive in addressing the end-customer.
But if ManoMano has succeeded where many marketplaces have failed, it is also thanks to their technology.
Would you then say that technology is one of the keys to your success?
Christian Raisson: Absolutely. We continuously develop specific algorithms and this is what differentiates us from our competitors. Automatization and business intelligence are at the heart of our model, whether it concerns the services provided to our merchants or new functionalities to improve customer service. Every innovation we make is subjected to the automation process.
Philippe de Chanville: We have always recruited the best people to develop our vision which is driven by technology. Technology and automation processes enable us to achieve outstanding growth while diminishing our resources.
Any other key ingredients? What about the team?
Philippe de Chanville: I believe that our mutual understanding is also key to our success. We have built up a solid working relationship over the years, which is essential to ensure the smooth running of the company. Over time, this complementarity has grown and we continue to share the same vision and the same thirst for ambitious challenges.
Philippe Collombel: Your management team is excellent and we are always impressed by your strong ambition and your capacity to execute your strategy very efficiently. Ever since ManoMano started, Christian Raisson and Philippe de Chanville have set ambitious goals and they have always surpassed them. In fact, ManoMano is one of the best companies in our portfolio, but it is also maybe one of the least well-known. I am always pleasantly surprised when you speak in public as you are generally very discreet! Any comments Christian?
Christian Raisson: We work very hard and concentrate all our efforts and energy on developing our business. And we believe that happy customers are our best ambassadors!
What are your development plans with the €60 Million you just raised?
Christian Raisson: We will use the funds to reinforce our European presence by developing brand awareness in our six existing countries. It will also help us finance innovations for our end-customers and our merchants. Lastly, this round of financing should enable us to hire around 50 developers and data scientists over the next few months, in addition to Paris-based staff with the languages skills we need in the countries we operate in.
This deal marks the return of the US investor General Atlantic to the French stage after more than 10 years of absence: what does that tell us?
Phillippe Collombel: It is a strong sign reflecting both the quality of what ManoMano is building, and the momentum of the French tech ecosystem. Christian and Philippe are emblematic of the new generation of French entrepreneurs: they are proud of their ambition, they are transparent on their metrics and they always want to forge ahead! This is what attracted General Atlantic and convinced the historical investors to continue supporting ManoMano in their adventure.
Christian Raisson: General Atlantic and Partech Ventures share the same ambitious vision of the retail sector and the same desire to see us become a leader. While we are very interested in General Atlantic’s international experience, we are delighted to continue benefiting from Partech Ventures’ support. We have built a solid relationship with Partech Ventures and established mutual trust. We really appreciate Philippe Collombel’s strong commitment and personal support, which has proven to be a precious asset since the beginning. And Partech Ventures was instrumental in three of our last four top recruitments!