Reinventing a once disruptive business model

Interview with Gilles Despas from Scout24 at the Smart Business Day 2019

As part of the Smart Business Day Tim Dührkoop from Namics will be conducting an interview with Gilles Despas, CEO of the Scout24 Group. Below are my notes on the interview.

Gilles Despas von Scout 24 beim Gespräch am Smart Business Day

The market position is not the primary concern for Despas, but the daily question of whether the company provides a good service to its partners and customers. The fact of being number one in a market is not a recipe for success in the future.

Facebook is also a relevant competitor in Switzerland, where the social network is showing good growth.

Scout24 is an "old" digital company at 25 years of age, and the question is always asked how it can create new models and not wait until it comes under pressure. One of the models under development is a pricing model in which the buyer only has to pay if the transaction is successful. Far away from today's advertisement model. Customers expect a performance model.

The "red line" of Scout24 is not to own any assets; in other words, to only enable transactions, but not to carry them out itself. Scout24 wants to support the market and remain a digital business.

What surprised Gilles Despas most when he started at Scout24? That the real estate and automotive sectors are still very far from digitalisation. The processes from the user's point of view are still far too complex. He was also surprised at how strongly they are internally linked to the "classified model". Scout24 must take a look abroad, because competitive models will also be successful in Switzerland after a few years' delay.

Scout24 invests heavily in staff, and Despas believes in the cooperation of experienced employees who are connected with the brand and new colleagues. Integration is already a challenge, but the existing employees are helping a great deal.

Asked about the two owners Ringier and Mobiliar, Despas says that he could not imagine better owners. The owners support the transformation and have very good market knowledge.

At present the Scout24 brand is particularly well known to people over 30. But there it is very strongly anchored and estimated to be worth 50 to 100 million. He sees the challenge and opportunity for the younger generation above all in new offers that address the needs of these generations.

One question from the audience is how Scout24 deals with the data collected in the ecosystem. He gives an honest answer to this - namely that they have a lot of data at their disposal, but still do too little with it. But the goals are high to provide the right services efficiently and to give the data back to the customers in order to optimise processes.