Emile Karam and Thomas Reynaud, two friends and former students of HEC Paris, have created Garantme , a rental deposit service, housed within the HEC start-up incubator at Station F. The start-up, which is based in the field of Insurtech, relies on its proprietary technology and its partnerships with sponsors to increase its activity. Meeting with Thomas Raynaud, co-founder of the company.
What do you remember from your education at HEC?
The majority of memories from HEC are linked to the people that we met there. The 3 years on campus upon leaving the preparatory class were a great opportunity to make important acquaintances and to share pivotal moments for the future.
Overall, the Grande École curriculum is very well structured in a way that allows us to learn by ourselves by working on concrete projects as well as the courses given. The gap year comes at a good time, when you start getting eager to enter into the professional world. The final year is a good opportunity to outline what you want to become.
In what way have Specialization in Entrepreneurship and the Startup Launchpad (the Digital Entrepreneurship track of the Digital Business specialization) been formative and important in launching your company?
Specializing in Entrepreneurship and the Start-up Launchpad have one important thing in common: they are both programs which make us ask ourselves a lot of questions about the direction of our early careers.
They are also two programs which allow for numerous meetings with contributors from all sectors: entrepreneurs, business executives, investors…
These meetings are very informative and allow us to find examples that inspire us to take the plunge.
In your opinion, what are the advantages of being based within the HEC incubator at Station F?
At Garantme, we see distinct contributions between Station F and the HEC incubator.
Station F brings an important credibility and notoriety, thanks to the image of Xavier Niel and the media hype generated by its opening. In practical terms, Station F allows us to receive our guests, who travel to see the place, rather than jump from meeting to meeting throughout Paris. It’s a gain in efficiency.
But it’s the HEC business incubator that brings us the most value. As two first-time entrepreneurs, we need support on non-mastered issues and the network of experts that the HEC provides for developing businesses is crucial.
It is also within the business incubator that the synergies are strongest: with Garantme, we collaborate on issues common to the other Insurtech of the incubator. This creates competition and allows for the generation of synergies.
Could you describe the service that Garantme offers and its strong points?
Garantme is the rental guarantor for students who don’t have one, whether that’s because they come from abroad or because they don’t meet the classic criteria for solvency imposed by the lessors.
The success factors of the company are linked to user experience and distribution:
- With regards to user experience, Garantme digitalizes the entire life of the contract, everything from subscription, management and the damage declaration and its management is done online.
- With regards to distribution, Garantme forms partnerships with the prescribers on both the tenant side and the lessor side; for example, universities and student residences for international students.
Our principal competitive advantage is the tenant scoring method which allows us to increase the volume of tenants accepted, all while relaxing the type and level of income required, reducing the risk of failure and protecting the private information of users. It’s technology that allows us to do that.
We launched the solution in January 2018 and achieved €10,000 in sales in our first month of activity.
Before that, we had won several prizes in France: the Prix Habitation d’Insurection issued by Insurance April in November, and the Prix Coup de Cœur du Public awarded by Finance Innovation in December.
What are the next steps for Garantme?
The objective for us today is to help 1000 people to get lodging in 2018 thanks to our guarantee. All our efforts are aimed in that direction.
In the not so distant future, the aim is to expand access to our rental guarantee to young graduates, expatriates, the self-employed and why not to those with fixed-term contracts and interims. 6 million people in all in France, before going to the UK, the US and to Canada where the same issue with a lack of guarantors exists.