Kairos Fire, one of the 6 startups accelerated by UR Link, the startup accelerator of Unibail-Rodamco, is currently being trialled in 6 centres of the group. The solution analyses customer’s journey in shopping centres with beacons, provides strategic insights to shopping centres and to retailers, and gives them the opportunity to engage with guests via their smartphone. Guillaume Tassetto, the founder, explains what the UR Link programme helped his company achieve.
Kairos Fire provides the power of advanced location technology to retailers.
Tell us how everything started.
It all started in 2007, when we reckoned that smartphones are the most powerful tools to gather data in the real world. I won a price for innovation in 2008, while I was still a first-year student in a business school. It was quite early, so we reentered the race in 2010. We had to iterate and to bring the idea face-to-face with a very volatile market. Technology was changing at pace: there were flash codes first, then QR codes, Microsoft tags, ultrasounds, etc. It was difficult to sort everything out. We had a B2B business model, so we had to understand the requirements of brands before developing the platform. All this took a lot of time: we had to self-finance, to bring a team together, and to learn. The first tests of the Kairos Fire product, based on beacon technology, were in June 2015.
How does it work?
Kairos Fire brings cookies in the real world : we place cookies in relevant locations to determine customer’ journeys in shopping centres, with 100% reliable data. Smartphones boast location technology – but it actually has a 5-meter precision in only 5% of cases! Our solution is reliable with a 5-meter accuracy in 100% of cases, which lets us segment customers according to the stores they visit via their smartphone. Today, our network counts thousands of beacons gathering data everywhere in France. In parallel, we integrated our technology in numerous third-party mobile applications with a large audience, enabling us to gather that data.
What’s the value added of the service for shopping centres and retailers? More practically speaking, what are the useful insights it provides them with?
Firstly, Kairos Fire provides shopping centre with customer knowledge, which they do not necessarily have contrary to the brands they host. For example, Unibail-Rodamco can use our solution to know the flow of visitors in their centres. It’s a strategic insight for the group, which can therefore determine hot areas and cold areas in its malls. The beacons also give information on the catchment area of the centre, but also of each brand: the customers of a supermarket might come from very different residential areas than a fashion brand. Obviously, the data we collect is anonymised, to comply with guests’ data privacy. For retailers, our solution lets them monitor their performance in a more reliable way: our beacon tracks the evolution of their customer traffic with a 100% accuracy, but provides also a broader vision of what’s happening around the store. Retailers will know if they under-performed or over-performed versus the part of the shopping centre they are established in.
Secondly, beyond statistical insights, Kairos Fire segments clients, determining regular ones or those who no longer visit the centre, as well as offering ways to engage directly with customers via mobile campaigns.
Finally, with Kairos Fire Score, we inform shopping centres and retailers on how much incremental traffic our solution brought them, with a 100% accuracy. We are a trustworthy third-party between the advertiser, the mobile application broadcasting the campaign, and the retailer.
Why did you apply to the UR Link acceleration programme?
Unibail-Rodamco is an obvious business partner for us. We had developed our platform, but we needed to understand how to use the data we gathered with our beacons. UR Link was the perfect opportunity.
What did the collaboration with the UR Link team bring you? And with your dedicated Unibail-Rodamco mentors?
UR Link was an unexpected accelerator to understand our business better. Today, it’s our closest partner, and it’s the one who taught us the most. The truth is, we had no idea what to do with our 100%-accurate advanced location data. Unibail-Rodamco helped us accelerated our business model, letting us work close to operational teams who were on the field. Our mentors had clear issues and saw opportunities to address them in our technology. They helped us understand the requirement of our customers and became agents of our success – today, they are almost our friends. What was the most precious thing in the programme is that we were guided by people from the inside.
How is the experimentation in Unibail-Rodamco centres going?
We are currently experimenting in 6 Unibail-Rodamco shopping centres, since mid-January: So West, Vélizy 2, Forum des Halles, Euralille, V2 Lille, Lyon Part-Dieu. Placing the beacons was very easy, and Unibail-Rodamco was very flexible. We offered retailers to be part of the test, and most of them accepted: our technology equips stores such as Gap, Darty, Fnac, Yellow Corner or Leclerc. Feedback is great, and those who were not part of the test initially told us they want to join, which is great!
The one-thing you wouldn’t have been able to do without UR Link?
UR Link helped us save two years. That’s a lot from a startup perspective!
The second season of UR Link ends on March 3rd. What’s next?
First, we want to convince the Board of Unibail-Rodamco to scale our solution in all their shopping centres in France. We also want to meet more brands and win more business opportunities. In the longer term, we reckoned that our advanced location technology is relevant in many different large-sized areas. We hope to disseminate our beacons in other sectors and other locations, maybe in smart cities. For instance, we could use our solution to improve the mobility of visually impaired city-dwellers in urban zones.
Kairos Fire is part of the second promotion of UR Link. Applications for the third season will be open on April 3rd. If you are interested, brace yourselves!