Scaling up

For the second Building Beyond Festival, Leonard, La Fabrique de la Cité and the Fondation VINCI pour la Cité brought together 70 city makers, researchers, architects, engineers and artists for two weeks to consider the size of cities and imagine the future of regions and infrastructure. Scaling up is always a key concern for entrepreneurs starting their business. In a special masterclass, Julien Honnart, chairman and founder of Klaxit, shared how he did it.

Klaxit is a specialist ride sharing solution for commuters. Its business model has three main pillars: business-specific technology, partnerships with major corporations and partnerships with local authorities.

Klaxit’s algorithm optimises journey time with a view to balancing supply and demand. Thanks to this technology, partnerships can be established with companies in order to achieve the critical mass of users more rapidly. This is the approach Klaxit adopted for Renault’s Guyancourt site, which was its first partner.

Partners, a marker of trust and a means of enhancing products and services

The startup now has almost 200 corporate clients, one-third of them in the CAC 40. More than mere markers of trust, partnerships are also an opportunity to enhance a startup’s products or services. The partnership with insurance company MAIF has, for instance, led to the introduction of a guaranteed return journey: if no rideshare is available for the journey home, Klaxit pays for a Uber trip. Elsewhere, the partnership with public transport operator RATP resulted in the service being included in its in-house application.

In parallel with such corporate partnerships, Klaxit is developing partnerships with local authorities which see ride sharing as a “potential public transport system” for sparsely populated areas. Less costly and more flexible, this transport option is turning out to be more suitable than a bus system for outlying areas. The partnerships established enable public authorities to pay for part of the fare, thereby reducing the cost for passengers. In some cases, the local authority may even include ride sharing in their transport service. In the Greater Paris area, for instance, journeys are free of charge for passengers who have a Navigo pass.

These partnerships enable strong growth without having to depend solely on direct communication with customers as conventional ride sharing services do.

Enhanced growth through contractual links

Julien Honnart emphasises the win-win dimension for partner companies. Klaxit enables them to outsource innovation and go faster while meeting a need that had not yet been satisfied. A startup’s capacity for fast reactions and its greater flexibility are also strengths for a major corporation wishing to achieve its goals rapidly.

The CEO also outlined some of the mistakes he made along his journey. For instance, he advises startups not to offer their product free of charge to potential customers in case they do not follow the right internal validation path of that company: “When no one is accountable internally, you can become invisible very quickly!” To his mind, it is essential to have a really good contact in the company, someone who has a group vision. Without this strategic entry point, it could be difficult to roll out the solution in the company and make the POC into a prosperous partnership.