The DGCCRF, which takes a close interest in all the start-ups that are disrupting traditional models, from Uber to Airbnb, is calling it a “preventive investigation.”
An unusual visit to the offices of the young start-up Booxup: an inspector from the General Directorate for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control came to the two co-founders, David Mennesson and Robin Sappe, to ask them questions about their business. A “preventive investigation”, according to him, but which seemed very strange to Booxup’s lawyer at this stage of development.
The startup is indeed extremely young: Booxup was released in March 2015 on the App Store. The free app allows its users to reference their stock of books and then contact each other to lend them, exchange them… Booxup, which raised 310,000 euros in June from private investors, has 10,000 users and lists 30,000 books. Not enough, for the moment at least, to terrify traditional sellers.
The same inspector who investigated Uber
The inspector of the Repression of Fraud -who happens to be the same one who represented the public prosecutor in the trial against Uber- wanted to inquire about Booxup’s links with web giants like Google and Amazon, and also asked more general questions to the co-founders about their vision or their business model.
However, Booxup is not really in the same situation as the VTC service accused, among other things, of complicity in the illegal practice of the taxi profession (Read: “What penalty does Uber France face?“, 30/06/15). The start-up has not yet put in place any monetization lever. A new version of the app will be released in October and will include ads andaffiliate features. “When you’re looking for a book and it’s not available or too far away for you to pick it up, we’ll offer to buy it,” Robin Sappe explains. The start-up is currently discussing with potential partners: it could include Fnac, Amazon or even Placedeslibraires, which lists French bookshops.
“The market is dominated by a vertical distribution system. We are trying to introduce a new mode of consumption based on sharing,” says Robin Sappe. But all these projects around the collaborative economy are colliding with the traditional economy.” In any case, Booxup hopes that this “preventive investigation” will remain so…