Florian Hoven, KeyNest: Welcome to Paris!
Portrait of Florian Hoven, Founder of KeyNest, and the reasons why he chose Paris to expand his service.
“We were very impressed by the openness with which the Paris start-up scene welcomes foreign innovators”
After growing up in Germany and studying in France, I founded KeyNest with Marc Figueras in London in 2016. KeyNest was founded with the idea of helping Airbnb hosts and property managers cut out the hassle of providing property access to guests and cleaners. We now operate a network of 2800 partner locations (mostly cafes and grocery stores) where our customers can securely store keys for their guests to collect when it’s most convenient. In 2017, Airbnb recognised our contribution to the sector by making us their official partner.
Many of our largest clients operate around the world, so it wasn’t long before they were asking to use us abroad. With Paris being the largest market for short-term rentals in the world and the number of our clients already operating there, it was a natural choice for our second office. But these weren’t the only reasons – Paris has a wide pool of talent and a fast-developing start-up culture. Emmanuel Macron declared in 2018 that he wanted France to become a “start-up nation”, and incubator programmes such as Paris & Co have been forefront in making the city more start-up friendly. From a human capital standpoint, Paris has a young and educated population, who are approaching business with new and innovative ideas. We hired an experienced manager in Gabriella Lia-Aragnouet who quickly brought our service to market in Paris and signed up new customers within just a few weeks. As well as Gabriella and the French team’s talent, Paris’s density and excellent metro system make it really easy for the operations team to get around the city and open new locations and support our customers.
My co-founder Marc and I both speak French which helped our launch in Paris, but we were very impressed by the openness with which the Paris start-up scene welcomes foreign innovators. We have formed great partnerships with other businesses based in Paris, some of which operate in the hospitality sector as well, leading to major synergies.
Programmes available to entrepreneurs such as Paris & Co are extremely helpful in developing businesses and getting them ready to grow. Fast forward a year, and we’re not only present in Paris, but across the whole of France. Paris’s transport links with the rest of France and the rest of Europe have given us much better connections to other cities. Paris has been a base for us to expand to Nantes, Lyon, Marseille and many more cities. Our Paris office has become a launchpad for expanding across the rest of Europe, and we’ve expanded our service throughout Europe to ten new countries including Germany, Italy and Spain.
The success we had in Paris also gave us the confidence to expand to North America and open our third international office in New York in late 2019. Our Parisian team has grown to five members, and Paris has already become our second largest market behind London. Across the entire KeyNest team French has already become the most commonly-spoken first language. In the future we know that our presence in Paris will only continue to grow. In a few years we expect Paris to match London in terms of revenues, and our Paris office to become as big as our London office.
Expanding to Paris has been huge for KeyNest, and it’s fundamentally changed the way we work. It hasn’t just been a case of replicating our template from London – there are differences in the market and culture. As we’ve grown to understand them better, problem-solving in Paris has given us new ways of thinking and approaching problems in other markets too, including London.
Thanks Paris & Co for introducing us to Florian and Keynest!