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Collaborating with startups when you’re a major company: My Coffreo/La Poste the winning combination

Jan 19, 2017 by Alice Benchimol

Final demo of the solution in front of La Poste representatives (Demo Day)

The startup Pack’n Drive is the brain behind My Coffreo – a mobile app that allows one to access a vehicle’s trunk without the owner being present. This success story started back in March last year during the “Code avec La Poste hackathon” organized by BeMyApp. At the event, 14 hacker and startupper teams took part in this dedicated weekend tasked with developing digital solutions using APIs provided by La Poste.

After the hackathon, Pack’n Drive joined the incubation program offered by the postal service operator. The startuppers already had the idea for a service that lets you access a vehicle’s trunk via mobile app for a while, but first they wished to work on a prototype and participating in an incubator would allow them to launch the product sooner. Badri Ahmed, Pack’n Drive’s co-founder, tells us more about My Coffreo’s big adventure with La Poste.

 

Where did the concept come from?

“Today, French couriers consider more than 16% of parcels never reach their destination because the recipient is not there to receive it. He/She finds themself forced to retrieve the parcel from the post office, which implies limited hours and a lot of stress. On the transportation companies side, parcel returns generate substantial costs...”

 

What’s the solution offered by Pack’n Drive?

Create a new pickup spot outside your home, i.e, car trunks. The service My Coffreo is based on a technology which consists of opening a car trunk without the owner’s presence, thanks to an app. This solution is dedicated to transportation companies, which will help them digitise by facilitating freight transport with their different counterparts (contractors, clients…). With an optimized platform and precise geo-tracking, this startup ensures a more efficient parcel tracking. “We’re facilitating the delivery process,” explains Badri Ahmed. Indeed, this solution offers a new logistic scheme for the courier.

 

How did your startup benefit from incubation?

“Thanks to La Poste’s incubation program, the whole idea of this solution evolved efficiently and conclusively. The incubation phase was truly interesting because the different levels included in the launch of a new service were covered, from technical aspects, to legal and selling ones, but also for design etc. From there, we needed to foresee the matters of security and responsibility.”

Maud and Alexandre, BeMyApp startup experts, were in charge of follow-up for the incubation and were able to bring their methodology and tools to the Pack’n Drive team.

This program allowed the startup, among others, to conduct an audit within a post office. The results were on par with expectations.  With questions like “Is it useful? Would they pay for this kind of solution? Would they be ready to install this technology on their own vehicles?”, the service was judged “useful” by 80% of participants. These numbers comforted the startup and was proof of the viability of their new solution.  

It was a satisfying support program that could be improved in one particular aspect: the post-incubation follow-up. If companies are looking to develop a long-term ecosystem with startups, I believe they should continue working with these kinds of projects post-incubation with an accelerator. This would bring a more steady path to market.

 

What are the next steps?

“This technology should be commercialized from the first quarter of 2017. Today, we’re going through the approval and certification phase; our hope is to start a collaboration program with La Poste in order to launch an operational and functional experimental phase, then start recruiting and spreading the activity.

The point of collaborating with a courier is to identify their expectations, to answer their needs and issues, but also to save time on the spreading of the solution, thanks to their existing regional and national networks.

If a short-term collaboration with La Poste is not conceivable, Pack’n Drive is ready to proceed without it and create an independent delivery logic. Today, they have the tools and skills needed for a market breakthrough of their own: “We have at our disposal a platform and the My Coffreo technology: useful and precise tools that we can count on.”

 

Alice Benchimol

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