Business Info - issue 147

01732 759725 15 magazine INTERVIEW WeMaintain, one of President Macron’s favourite start-ups (see Tweet), has raised E 30 million in Series B funding to drive international expansion and extend its smart buildings technology from lift and escalator maintenance into other areas. The company, founded in 2017 by Benoît Dupont, Jade Francine and Tristan Foureur, had previously raised € 1.8m and € 7m over two rounds in 2018 and 2019. With offices in Paris, London and Singapore,WeMaintain is aiming to transform lift and escalator maintenance, using IoT to provide building owners and managers with real-time data, smart maintenance and a next-generation customer experience. The combination of its proprietary cloud-based technology, IoT devices and skilled maintenance engineers has had a big impact in the regulated maintenance market, helpingWeMaintain to win major contracts with Allianz Real Estate andWeWork, but the plan was always to bring the intelligence, visibility and control offered by its solutions to other critical building systems. To this end,WeMaintain recently acquired fire alarm solutions company Shokly. The new funding from Red River West, BPIFrance Digital Ventures and Swiss Immo Lab will giveWeMaintain a big boost as it extends its technology into new applications and into additional overseas markets, including Asia and North America. The company opened a London office in 2020, winning contracts with coworking provider Workspace and KeolisAmey Docklands (KAD), operators of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and earlier this year set up an office in Singapore to develop its operations in Asia-Pacific. With the onus on asset owners to make buildings smarter and greener, while also cutting costs and improving the service offered to tenants, the investment inWeMaintain could not be more timely. Business Info finds out more from co-founder and CTO Tristan Foureur. Q&A Business Info (BI) : So, tell me more about WeMaintain. You started out in lift maintenance, but are moving into other areas and using IoT to transform the service customers can expect. Tristan Foureur (TF): Yes, that’s right. Historically, we were heavily focused on lifts, but over time we have expanded into other regulated maintenance areas of the building. For instance, in France we are doing fire and safety, which we will soon be doing in the UK as well.We also maintain escalators and automated doors. The clue is in our name.We are calledWeMaintain because we want to become the one-stop-shop for regulated maintenance inside the building. We created the company in 2017 and became commercially active in 2018. In 2019, we started conducting R&D into IoT with two objectives in mind – to improve operations, for example by detecting anomalies before the user notices them and identifying when a breakdown is going to occur before it happens; and to help our customers understand the usage of their buildings. A lift is effectively the spine of a building. Knowing how it is used and how often it is used tells you a lot about the actual usage of the building, about the occupancy rate, the traffic between floors. This can be helpful in certain buildings, allowing you to take actions to optimise the flow of traffic inside the building, for example. And that is just for lifts. There are also great things to be done in other areas that we don’t cover yet, like HVAC systems. We see IoT as an enabler. It is not a product that works on its own. You still need skilled engineers to come on site and you still need people to interpret the data it produces, but it is an enabler for better service and a better understanding of a building. BI: Did you have IoT from the start? TF: No, we developed it over time and didn’t start rolling it out to all our customers until 2020. The idea from the get-go was to empower engineers through tech. IoT is a part of that, but it is not the whole thing. The idea is to have a platform on which customers can manage and oversee their whole operations at a portfolio level and for engineers, through their app, to have a good overview of their portfolio and when deadlines are coming up. Anomalies or issues can be noticed by IoT-equipped devices, but they can also come from other sources – from insurance reports, from lift consultants, from users themselves via call centres. IoT is another source of qualified data that we get in real time and from the ground, but we have other means of capturing and generating data. BI: Is it too early to have measured the benefits of IoT? TF: No, we already have some really cool stories and use cases where IoT has generated value for customers. Even before the pandemic, estate Tristan Foureur, CTO and co-founder of proptech companyWeMaintain ...continued Tristan Foureur