Brainchild of an ENGIE Group employee, Please is a startup formed with the ambition of providing neighborhood concierge services by offering city dwellers all the daily services they need. The concept is now up and running, and is one of the first five businesses to be launched by the Group startup incubator. Its creator David Denis tells us more...
Personal services are on a roll. David Denis, who worked at ENGIE Ineo on smart networks and SmartCity projects, had the idea of developing these services for defined urban neighborhoods, and in a completely innovative way! His startup 'Please, mon Home Service' offers concierge-style personal services (home cleaning, dry cleaning, deliveries, etc.) to private individuals by connecting them with local retailers and service providers, companies and independent entrepreneurs. The Please service is managed by a 'Please Captain' responsible for coordinating the package at local level. Residents can book services at their neighborhood concierge service or by using a dedicated mobile app.
The Please concept has been appointed to manage the concierge service for the future My Eureka neighborhood in Montpellier, and the Edison Lite apartment building in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Please has also signed its first partnership agreement with the Les 3 Clefs concierge service in the Fort d’Issy-les-Moulineaux eco-community, and will launch its first app for residents this summer.
How was your startup idea born?
As part of my work at ENGIE Ineo, I did a lot of thinking about the collaborative smart city of tomorrow, and about new ways of doing things that would make daily life simpler for residents. The idea of a platform that would enable the creation of neighborhood concierge services emerged gradually through discussion with my manager.
Was it a dream of yours to become an entrepreneur?
I clearly have an entrepreneurial streak, because I've always sought to innovate and develop new products and services as an employee of the Group. But embarking alone on the adventure of creating my own business never seemed a possibility.
Do you think your idea would have seen the light of day without the Open Innovation initiative and the ENGIE startup incubator?
The launch of the startup incubator came at just the right time, and I seized this unique opportunity. Without its financial, technical and human support, Please would never have seen the light of day. Especially given the fact that the one-year business incubation period provides a breathing space in which to make mistakes: even when the pressure is on, you can make a mistake, put it right, and improve things. The ENGIE incubation team is on hand to challenge us, alert us to things and bring us back to earth.
Are you still supported by ENGIE today? If so, is that still essential?
We have put together a viable offer, and we know that the market is ready for it. But it's still too early for us to be independent. There's plenty of work left to do on our offer in terms of software, and we still need the financial and technical support of the Group. We were successful in gaining the approval of the Group Investment Committee, and have just entered the 18-month acceleration phase during which we will continue to enjoy the benefits of incubation as we continue the rollout of our concept.