By Christine Lacaze
Rodolphe Barrère and Louis Delaoustre built Potloc together. Potloc is a platform where citizens can express their communities' business needs - a way of reinventing the city through the eyes of its inhabitants.
Local collective intelligence
Potloc was born in 2013. Rodolphe Barrère and Louis Delaoustre were students at HEC Montréal and lived together in the Plateau. Businesses in the borough opened and closed often, sometimes in the space of months. "We realized that we were good at predicting the lifespan of the businesses that opened up... and that's logical: when you live in a place, you know what works and what doesn't," said Barrère.
If the two had such strong success, they posited that 10, 100 or even 1000 people could have a powerful ability to do the same thing. They began by testing their idea with pen and paper, scouring the streets for the insight of locals into the businesses they believed would work well in their areas. As the meetings progressed, the team found that they were getting great results - a goldmine of data and ideas. People liked to share their views about the city and their neighbourhood, and Potloc could ask very precise questions.
Their success pushed them to see bigger. They continued their project online, and potloc.ca was born.
Photo: Myriam Baril-Tessier for PME MTL
A new way to conduct market studies
"Accosting people on the street or calling to survey them about a product or service are methods that have been used for years, but they're time-consuming, expensive and sometimes unreliable," said Barrère.
Potloc can undertake precise, localized surveys without being intrusive, since its banners appear on social media. It's a new way of conducting market studies that is particularly attractive to the retail market, real estate developers, and cities and neighbourhoods, as it allows them to collect qualitative data on a large scale.
Millennials consume differently than their parents did, and tend to buy into stories more than products. With Potloc, they can even follow the businesses they encouraged to grow.
This new way of conducting market studies is positive for businesses as well as citizens. "People feel included in the development of their neighbourhoods and business districts, and businesses are guaranteed that they're providing a service that is well-suited to their clientele. Everyone wins!" said Barrèrent, cofounder and Potloc president.
Reinventing the city
Thanks to Potloc and the data it collects, it's easy to locate a neighbourhood in need of a cafe or library, and the style of offering that would be suitable for the area. Gen Y doesn't think in terms of services, but sees businesses as an experience. Precise algorithms determine the ideal commercial offering for a borough or business district and promises its success. The businesses that have gone through Potloc have exhibited a 95% success rate.
Millenials are on the lookout for experiences and are happy to be consulted. Even with the advent of online shopping, people will always have the desire to visit local businesses. Potloc facilitates success by showing those businesses where they should open up and what they should be like.
Potloc has experienced dizzying growth in the four years since its inception. After conquering Montreal and Toronto, the startup has launched in France and currently employs more than 20 people. It's a unique social startup that enlightens people's lives.