Kernel Investissement, the fund of PKM and Pierre Krings, is leading this round of financing for the community chat platform launched by Priceminister employees.
Howtank has completed a €1.7 million funding round led by Kernel Investissement, the fund of Priceminister co-founders Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet and Pierre Krings. The business angels who invested in the start-up in mid-2013, as well as a few other private investors, are also participating.
Founded at the end of 2012 by Sébastien Foret (CEO), Steven Harel (Chief Community Officer) and Emeric Teil (Product Director) – all three of whom came from Priceminister – Howtank launched a click-to-community solution in mid-2013. The first to integrate it into its pages was Priceminister, whose visitors can ask their questions via real-time chat to several hundred other users selected by the merchant to belong to the community that answers on its behalf.
Today, Howtank has about forty clients, including 30 acquired since the beginning of the year. Among its references, Voyages-Sncf, Auchan, Blablacar, Alloresto, Oxybul, Vinted, MonEchelle and Priceminister of course, but its widget can also be found on Sarenza or MyLittleParis. The functional scope of the solution has been expanded in response to customer requests to include click-to-chat functionalities with the retailer’s customer service. But its flagship product remains click-to-community and the community management tools that accompany it: these form a real private social network, where community members answer visitors’ questions, but also exchange with each other and with the merchant on various subjects: co-construction, surveys, tests, etc.
Enriching the platform and accelerating internationally
In three years, we have shown that the click-to-community mechanism works and makes sense, both for the merchant partner and the community,” Emeric Teil explained to JDN. We will continue to develop the platform technically to meet the demands gathered from both sides.” Particularly on the agenda are features that will enrich exchanges between the merchant and its community as well as within its members, for whom Howtank will design a mobile application.
International expansion is also part of the start-up’s roadmap. Already present in Italy, the UK, Germany and Poland, it also accompanied Vinted to the United States two weeks ago. Communities have no borders, like Blablacar’s, which extends from France to Italy and Poland,” adds Emeric Teil. We hire community managers – a strategic function at Howtank! – from all these countries in order to identify what the communities want and to encourage usage.”
Howtank expects to double its referrals by the end of the year. “Our goal is to replicate this in other European countries within a year,” concludes Emeric Teil.