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Altarea and Cityzia: building a lasting relationship of trust between a large group and a startup

#Open Innovation

As an alumnus of Paris&Co, Cityzia develops digital solutions that help clients find their ideal place to live, based on personal criteria - a daycare center, a gym, proximity to their workplace, etc. Meeting the developer Cogedim (Altarea group), known for its innovative approach, was a given. It was the beginning of a lasting collaboration now used by many of the group's businesses. Let’s take a look back at a great success story.


It all started in the spring of 2018. Cogedim was looking to offer its customers a service with a needs-focused approach and optimal personalization of customer relations. It found the perfect partner in Paris&Co startup Cityzia. "I immediately thought we should test the solution to check the appetite for this type of service, and what type of data could be collected, and going forward how to make the most of it," recalls Damien Carepel, Cogedim Digital Marketing Manager at Altarea. An initial 6-month POC was quickly set up that confirmed the group's expectations. The turnkey solution with rapid integration into Cogedim’s property marketing website was entirely satisfactory. This proposal, which isn’t necessarily promoted as a tool for Cogedim's prospects, nevertheless ensures a good conversion rate once customers have used it. The latest results confirm the quality of Cityzia's solution for Altarea, which is now being adopted and used more widely in the group's promotion businesses. In the meantime, Cityzia's offering has been refined: it now enriches advertisements with new and predictive data on the future of a new neighborhood, for example, thus reassuring buyers and helping investors to make informed choices. Future buyers can even fully customize their search and calculate their degree of affinity with each offer. A reinforced concrete “reassurance tool”.


A proof of concept quickly set up

For Cityzia, attracting a leading group in real estate development was a major asset for its continued growth: "It took us 5 months to sign the POC, which was divided into 2 key stages: 1) the BUILD phase, in which we designed and co-built the solution, customized for the Cogedim site, and 2) the RUN phase, that let us open the solution to users of the site. This second phase made it possible to launch the product and collect user feedback, with the aim of improving the solution. The positive results drove continued collaboration, and the tool is now fully integrated into a unified path for Internet users. The biggest challenge for Cityzia was to offer an innovative tool that did not yet exist, requiring a lot of evangelization work. The positive point was Altarea’s focus on innovation. This was very important for a successful collaboration," explains Premraj Nithianantham, co-founder and president of Cityzia. The entrepreneur sees sharing as a key value in collaborating with Altarea: "As a startup, our ready-to-use solution lets major corporates experiment quickly and at a lower cost... this collaboration in turn fosters our notoriety, and leverages the large group’s marketing force to deploy the solution. We benefit from user feedback and at the same time develop our credibility for customer prospecting... it's a virtuous circle".


 "We didn't have any major challenges, Cityzia's teams are dynamic, involved, and available - they made it easy to collaborate with us and our development teams. The key factors of success are mainly the flexibility and the quality of their team! They stay tuned to improve their tool and better adapt it to our needs. It's useful for them, they benefit from our experience for other customers, that’s the game and it’s perfectly normal" (Damien Carepel, Digital Marketing Manager at Cogedim at Altarea).


Paris&Co, accélérating contacts


Paris&Co accelerated this introduction and the mutual trust between the two partners. "We hadn't worked with many startups before joining Paris&Co as a partner, and the agency contributed enormously to feeding this ecosystem.  Paris&Co puts us in touch with emerging players on a regular and recurring basis, startups that come with a vision and fresh ideas to enrich us and help us transform our business. It's a new vision, new services and new ways of capturing customers with the aim of "transforming" them. All this helps us in our digital transformation, it changes our approach to prospects and future customers. There are more traditional approaches, but today new ideas are pushing us to try new angles, it's a new awareness" (Damien Carepel). Since its first collaboration with Cogedim, Cityzia has spread its wings and is currently working with other developers such as Immobel France, Edouard Denis, Ogic and has formed partnerships with marketing agencies, real estate hunters and wealth management consultants offering more innovative services.


"Paris&Co offers support services that meet the needs of each stage of a company's development, on all themes: legal, financial, fundraising, etc. We attended the Raise Academy, which enabled us to establish contacts with Business Angels and investors that can be activated when the time is right. Being in an incubator of this scale, recognized by the City of Paris, with real estate partners that correspond to our BToB target, is also great for our brand image."(Premraj Nithianantham).


Some advice on how to convince a large group? To have a ready to use solution, to be attentive to the needs and timing of the group, to be quick in execution and to define the keys to a successful project upstream, by putting in place the indicators needed to prove, in the POC's assessment, that the solution is indispensable. Result: "Today, on average 12% of Internet users on the Cogedim site use our solution" (Premraj Nithianantham).


"My advice to large groups wishing to work with startups? Trust them! They have a flexibility that large structures often don't have. This gives them an enormous adaptability to succeed in understanding our challenges and to adapt to processes that are sometimes very anchored. But you also need to have a human eye and an open mind to work with a startup. Give it a chance! Sometimes it may not work, but it is our duty to support these young entrepreneurs. If you don’t try, you’ll never know! "(Damien Carepel, head of digital marketing at Altarea).


Why join Paris&Co? "To take advantage of an ecosystem of support where entrepreneurs are accompanied by professionals on all the issues in the life of a startup" (Premraj Nithianantham).


Crédits photo : Cityzia

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