Interview with Ghislain Foucque, co-creator of Le Pot Commun
Le Pot Commun is France’s second-largest online crowdfunding group and joined Natixis’ Payments business line in 2017.
What about Pot Commun?
What’s the story behind Le Pot Commun?
We began the start-up with three partners: we are three first cousins. We have complementary skills and expertise and we were all fired up by the same entrepreneurial spirit. Now there are four partners. We have shared the amazing Le Pot Commun adventure for the past six years. Our family has grown to around 30 employees and it’s getting bigger by the day!
How did you get the idea for the business?
The Le Pot Commun story started back in 2011. We were organizing a New Year’s Eve party and we asked each of our guests to make a financial contribution for the expenses we incurred. It was hard to get back the money we had spent up-front. The party triggered everything off. Two days later we had all quit our jobs to find a way of organizing a “piggy bank” to collect money paid in by groups. Collecting money is relevant to all ages, all socio-professional categories and involves a host of events: gifts for the birth of a baby, retirement presents, house-warming parties, organizing a weekend away.... the list is long. After several months in the developmental stage, Le Pot Commun was up and running!
How did the company grow?
We have always been very careful about our costs and our growth has been continuous and regular. The first year we collected a million euros. In 2014, approached business angels to raise our first €200,000 in capital and took advantage of some excellent investment opportunities. We bought out two of our competitors as a result and invested in advertising. In October 2015, four years after founding Le Pot Commun, we joined Groupe BPCE. We’ve broadened our perspectives with Natixis Payment Solutions. We’ve got fresh financial support and more synergies.
Le Pot Commun has all the ingredients of a success story. What’s your secret?
We only develop new functionalities after getting client feedback through the website, Facebook or Twitter. The idea is all about understanding how the user perceives the Le Pot Commun experience. Co-building is therefore part of our approach: clients contribute to service development. And as we have exclusive control over our internal tools, we can respond in a matter of hours. Another one of our strengths is that the Le Pot Commun is a viral concept. Each time a client creates a Pot Commun (“shared piggy bank”), she or he becomes a “trusted partner” and invites 12 other people on average to contribute to the piggy bank. Three of them will go on to do the same thing themselves. We also rely on the recurring nature of our business. Not many people are prepared to go back to collecting money in an envelope once they’ve tried an online crowdfunding service. Last of all, this is a low-volatility business. Once users have keyed in their personal and banking details, they are unlikely to change operator.
What exactly have your ties to Natixis and, more specifically the Natixis Payment Solutions ecosystem, brought you?
We have the best of both worlds now: the responsiveness and agility of a start-up with full managerial autonomy, plus the backing and financial clout of a large company like Natixis, which is crucial to our development.
We are building on synergies with other Natixis Payment Solutions teams and we have just launched a new service in partnership with CADOCarte.
One other thing
Natixis Payment Solutions houses the full range of payment and pre-paid businesses and solutions for stores, via internet and mobile phones. It serves the banking networks of Groupe BPCE and of direct clients – retailers, companies, municipalities, associations, banks and Payment Service Providers (PSP).