A quick catch-up with Christian Raisson & Philippe de Chanville, Co-Founders of ManoMano, and Phillipe Collombel, Co-Managing Partner of Partech

Partech
Partech
Apr 3 · 8 min read
Philippe de Chanville & Christian Raisson, Co-Founders of ManoMano

ManoMano, the leading European platform for DIY and gardening, announced a €110 million raise on the 1st of April, 2019. With this latest round, the scale-up aims to develop its offering for professionals and its seller experience as well as recruit high profile tech talents and continue its European conquest, especially in the UK market.

We talked with the Co-Founders of ManoMano: Christian Raisson and Philippe de Chanville, and Philippe Collombel, Co-Managing Partner of Partech, who is in charge of the company as an investor. We previously interviewed them in 2017, but we wanted to catch up with them and find out what’s happened over the last two years and how the relationship between the Co-Founders of the funded company and the investor has evolved.

ManoMano created many new services over the last 12 months. Can you tell us more about them?

Philippe de Chanville and Christian Raisson:

Yes, we created three new services for our merchants in 2018. The first is an invoice service. It can be challenging for a merchant to issue 200 invoices per day, so we created an invoice service that solves this problem. The second one is a remote customer service: for instance, French merchants decide to sell in Spain, we then translate their product sheets and help them with their customer service. In November 2018, after a long tender process, we launched ManoMano Fulfillment which is our logistics platform in Gretz. It has three objectives. Firstly, to search for foreign merchants who want to sell in France (fostering cross-border sales). Secondly, to facilitate the marketing of products from industrials who do not have the tools to do it themselves. Lastly, to support the quality of our big merchants who cannot sustain high volumes when there are peaks in activity. In summary, we provide a tool that helps them deliver rapidly.

Philippe Collombel:

ManoMano has a full understanding of the market: the new fulfillment platform enables the delivery of bulky items, helping to increase the NPS by 15 points, and when ManoMano enters a new market, they understand very well their new customers’ expectations. Here they not only adapt to new customers, they create a fully new service designed for professionals.

Their execution capability is quite incredible. By launching Fulfillment by ManoMano, they have demonstrated their ability to keep up with the evolving market. They went from being a pure distributor to being a distributor and manufacturer. Additionally, their new B2B marketplace, ManoManoPro will bring a large number of projects and multi-specialists to the platform. And all this while complying with the allocated budget and meeting the deadlines!

Christian and Philippe, what is the new service that you’re most proud of?

Our most recent service: ManoMano Pro!

ManoMano Pro website

The B2C market is worth €200B but the B2B market is also worth €200B in the five markets where we are already present outside of France. We launched our B2B service less than a month ago, but we are already seeing a great start and that both markets are incredibly complimentary. Some parts of the catalogs are very similar: we don’t just sell our B2B catalog to our registered companies (30,000 products), we also sell them to the everyday customer in our B2C catalog in which there are 3 million products! Professionals keep on coming back to our website for this broad product range that we continue to grow.

Christian and Philippe, in 2017, you told us about Automation and business intelligence. Did you implement new functions in your algorithms?

We continue to invest in this sector because we are a tech company at heart. The first step was to recruit. We recruited a new CTO in 2018, who is experienced in and capable of managing large teams. We also recruited a team of data scientists and increased our usage of artificial intelligence in the management of merchants: with over 1,800 merchants now, this cannot be done manually. This process of restructuring the team lasted for over a year. This is the hidden part that you never see: to be a tech company requires a lot of work behind the scenes! We have transformed our databases into communities. We manage all sorts of people, but we manage them in a communal fashion: we have built an online customer service platform, complete with tutorials, ambassadors, clients, prime testers, building professionals, etc. Our community is managed with technology.

Philippe Collombel, what convinced you to re-invest?

It’s very simple: the quality of the founding team, the talent that the company attracted, their execution capability, their new initiatives to improve the existing market, and their ability to enter adjacent markets like B2B.

It’s clear that they have the potential to become an enormous European player.

Average digitalisation in the DIY & Gardening industry versus all B2B industries in France

Christian and Philippe, new investors will join the Series D round. How are you going to manage historical and new investor expectations? Do you have a plan?

That’s an interesting question… We noticed a change in the role of our investors: at first, we worked with investors in a purely financial manner but later, we began to work with investors who brought with them specific business skills. For example, thanks to Partech and its expertise in tech, we were able to recruit senior profiles and it gave ManoMano an undeniable boost. We’ve worked with all investors; those who have a global vision, those with a more European vision, or even investors who see things with a long-term perspective. We try to align these differing viewpoints and have always endeavored to create a very honest dialog with all who invest in ManoMano. Today, they all work hand in hand with ManoMano, sharing our common goals and long-term strategy.

ManoMano will hire 100+ new tech talents in 2019. How do you manage your team’s growth? And how will you address the evolution of the culture of your company as you grow?

Christian and Philippe:

Among all the profiles we recruit, only a small part of them are tech talents. We also employ large teams to work on the customer service and operations side of ManoMano. They manage fulfillment and the new service for our merchants. During the last 18 months, as we grew and passed the 300 employee mark, we created an HR team which helped the company to structure its growth. We implemented internal levels, training sessions, management of internal mobility, etc. We went from a start-up, where we all knew each other, to a big company with internal processes. But now, our main objective is to keep our company’s DNA, our culture of having human vision as well as business vision and our core values of ingenuity, boldness and care. This implies working in a more structured way, to better integrate new team members, and succeed in showing them the uniqueness of ManoMano’s culture. We believe that we have a specific culture that differentiates us from others and our impressive and continuing growth is an opportunity to have a large and positive impact on those around us. People come to work at ManoMano for our company culture!

Philippe Collombel:

What’s really impressive about ManoMano, is the quality and structure of their team. They have the best people working on their marketing, product, finance, technology, operations and all aspects of the business. Christine de Wendel (the COO) is one example of how exceptional the team is.

Number of ManoMano employees

To Philippe de Chanville and Christian Raisson:

You opened new offices this year in Bordeaux and Barcelona. Are they going to grow ?

Firstly, you should know that we recruit on a know-how and soft skills basis, and that these skills are highly valued at ManoMano. With Bordeaux and Barcelona, we had a two-part strategy: to open to a large tech pool and even recruit people from Paris who will later move to Bordeaux. Bordeaux is rather a tech office while Barcelona is centered on customer services, since we can easily find people who speak several languages there.

How would you describe your working relationship as an investor/a startup?

Philippe de Chanville and Christian Raisson:

The story with Partech is quite funny because back in 2013, it did not fit and not until later when we met again, we decided to work together. When talking with Philippe Collombel the other day, we agreed that we had lost one year of collaboration! This is our great regret in the history of ManoMano, because with Philippe and other members of their team, Partech is the investor that has the best vision and ambition in Paris, and even Europe, and is on the same level as bigger global VCs. We are more than positive about Partech and the impact that it has had on recruitment and networking. We also enjoyed working with Marie-Hortense Varin while she was at Partech, she brought us her vision on tech, human responsibility, CSR and gender equality. To sum it up, it’s an A team and we love working with them!

Philippe Collombel:

I would say that at Partech we want to be a caring sparring partner and that there are three main aspects.

Firstly, being available for help and advice on business ideas and questions that they might have. Secondly, with staffing. We help find the right people that can help their business grow.
And lastly, providing them with valuable business contacts within their market.

It is important to add that the more ManoMano is developing, the more ambitious the founders become. We also have confirmation of the depth of the market and there is room for a multi-specialist. When people say that retail is Amazon, when it is a matter of specialty retailing, this is far from true! And in addition, in these multi-specialist markets, there is room for companies that sell more than just products. And this is where the concept of a marketplace really makes sense: ManoMano sells projects. Each time a customer has a new DIY project for home, he/she needs painting, electricity i.e. products from different ranges, as well as advice to conduct a project that is dear to his heart, ManoMano offers a complete solution.

Read more about ManoMano on their website!

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