Big companies need to change to survive. But how? Young entrepreneurs from BlaBlaCar and ParkAtMyHouse share their vision during OuiShare Fest. Businesses like a French DIY-shop, telecom company and postal service tell about their current ways to innovate.
By: Claartje Vogel
Crowd Expedition visits the annual festival in Paris to meet entrepreneurs, visionaries and experts on the Collaborative Economy. On day two, there were a lot of choices between session. While I was interested in the story of entrepreneurs for MKB Servicedesk and De Zaak, my experience of this day is a little bit different from that of expedition leader Martijn Arets. He talks about his findings in the following video.
Innovation lessons from BlaBlaCar
While Arets followed the session about hyper local sharing, I visited the presentation of BlaBlaCar. BlaBlaCar is the biggest car sharing platform in Europe, that connects drivers and passengers who share the same destination. The passenger pays the driver a small amount of money to share the ride. BlaBlaCar collects a percentage of this fee. The founders of the platform present how they continuously innovate. “There are three steps”, says Nicolas Brusson. “Think it. Build it. Us it. That’s it in a nutshell. Of course there’re a lot of challenges. The first one I’ll discuss is growth, the second one is trust.”
According to Brusson the most important thing is not being afraid to fail. “We at BlaBlaCar learn by trial and error”, he says. “Fail, learn, succeed. If you never make mistakes, you never learn anything new. It’s important to share this message in your company, so your employees know it’s ok to try out new stuff.”
You don’t have to repeat someone else’s mistakes. “Almost anything is done before”, Brusson says. “Never assume you have to reinvent the wheel. When you share knowledge inside and outside of your company, you find more answers. Share more, learn more.” Trust in your employees, partners and customers is very important. Learn more on BlaBlaCar’s speciale website Be a Trustman.
The importance of trust and learning is also pointed out to be in the presentation of Véronique Laurie, CEO of the French DIY-shop Castorama. “The first thing companies need to understand, is that the collaborative economy does not equal the economic crisis. It’s a movement and it’ll go on, because young people don’t believe in the old system anymore. They don’t trust old companies and governments. That’s why you have to change”, she explains. “It’s important big companies like Castorama exist, because they make sure millions of people in France have a job.”
“The problem is that the collaborative economy is in your DNA, but not in ours,” she addresses the OuiShare-public. “Retail is our core business.” How to survive in an economy based on sharing? For Castorama, this continues to be a challenge. At this moment Castorama tries to become thé DIY-sharing-platform. Do-it-your-selvers can share projects on the website and ask questions about home improvement. Retail will continu to be the most important way to make money at Castorama.
Samen met start-ups
“We’re still learning”, Laurie says. “Our first project was also a sharing platform and that was a total fail. Our biggest mistake was to do it all by ourselves. Our employees and partners didn’t participate. Now, we do things differently. We work together with start-ups and try to use all of the talents of our employees.”
Later, Laurie joins a debate about the question how big companies can strengthen the sharing economy. CEO’s from telecom company Orange, La Poste (French postal service) and sharing platform ParkAtMyHouse are among her. It’s an interesting discussion that shows that big businesses like to outsource this kind of innovation. Alex Stephany from ParkAtMyHouse (share your parking place) compares them to oil tankers: they move very slow. To make sure they don’t crash, they have to become a plane or a submarine. But that’s more easily said than done.
That’s why La Poste, Orange and Castorama try to outsource innovation. They invest in flexible airplanes: start-ups. If they’ll find a long-term solution this way, remains to be seen.