What’s your company story? Tell us a bit about Storefront?
In 2014, Mohamed Houache and Adrien Kerbrat created the French platform dedicated to short-term retail spaces rental in Paris: PopUpImmo. It rapidly became the French leader and opened new offices in Europe and Hong Kong under the name OuiOpen with the reinforcement of the founding team Benoît Clément-Bollée and Matthew Greenwell. In the meantime, Storefront, created by Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock in 2012, had imposed itself as the American leader of temporary retail space rental. Both companies were seeking international expansion, so, in 2016 Storefront and OuiOpen decided to join forces to become the world’s largest short-term retail space rental marketplace.
How long have you been in industry for?
I’ve been in the retail industry for 5 years. Before Storefront, I was part of a company doing shopfitting mainly for French affordable luxury brands across Asia, opening more than 120 shops in the region.
What did bring you to HK?
My wife got a great job opportunity, so I decided to leave my previous job to follow her in Hong Kong with our daughter.
Why having a pop-up store is such a trend?
Pop-up stores have so many potential uses that they answer a lot of retailers and e-tailers problems. Whether they want to launch a product, test several locations before committing to a long-term lease, sell exclusive products, or enhance brand recognition, pop-up stores can be the solution. It also brings the opportunity to add the temporality: for example, for fashion designers, open a pop-up store during Fashion Week will be a tremendous growth lever.
What is the main strength of your HK team?
I was looking for people that are helpful, honest, and can think outside of the box. People who are constantly striving for curiosity, to get to the next level, to be better all the time (to be good is not enough). Also, more than half of my team is composed of Hong Kongers that have a very good local knowledge. Resilience was also a key factor. I think that the quote of Charles de Foucault “Always choose the hardest path” suits Storefront team very well. I feel lucky to work with all of them.
What is the main challenge for your company so far?
We thought that the merger of OuiOpen with Storefront would have been challenging, but it turned out to be quite easy because we had the same company culture. The real challenge is to catch up with our growth. Storefront’s service meets a real need in the market, which results in a very high demand. So we need to find the right way to grow our business in terms of processes, resources, and management of these resources. But we are actively working on it.
What are your main goals for the next years?
Ambition is in the DNA of the company. Naturally, we have ambitious objectives: we want to settle in at least 3 new cities per continent and to double in size every 6 months.
What was the biggest project you have worked on so far?
For us, no project is more important than the other. We want to help the companies that contact us to strive, whatever size they are. So, we have the same engagement for every company, whether it is a famous international brand or the smallest local designer.
Why did you choose a coworking environment and what do you love most about it?
Coworking spaces offer flexibility and agility, which was ideal for our growing company. Plus, we found a lot of synergies and cultural fit with the Campfire team.
What I love about Campfire is that we can meet a lot of other entrepreneurs, full of dreams and new ideas. You never know, maybe you had coffee with the next Elon Musk. I also enjoy that, even if people definitely come here to work, the atmosphere is more relaxed than in a regular office.
Any last word?
Working in a start-up is hard; your mindset is a key success factor. So, to succeed, put yourself in a fun spirit.
– Benoît Clément-Bollée
Read more about Storefront in Asia: