Sorewards in "La France bouge", on Europe 1

February 24, 2022

In her programme " La France Bouge", Elisabeth Assayag invites entrepreneurs to present their innovative project to a jury composed of Nathalie Carré(CCI France) and a "boss of the day". Entrepreneurship experts and experienced business leaders will evaluate a project and challenge the person who is behind it. On 22 February, Sorewards took part in the exercise, represented by its co-founder, Tancrède du Réau. He was welcomed by Carole Ferry, Nathalie Carré, and Philippe Brassac (General Manager of the Crédit Agricole Group).

Carole Ferry: Every day, they try to convince you. To do so, they defend their case in front of Nathalie Carré, who will again today judge the qualities and shortcomings of this project under the watchful eye of our witness for the day, Crédit Agricole General Manager Philippe Brassac. Today on the podium, Tancrède du Réau! You're 45 years old, you live in Nantes, you've lived in the countryside for a long time, your mother worked for UNICEF: milestones that have made you aware of sustainable development and solidarity. And then in 2018 you and your brother launched Sorewards, it's a universal and solidarity gift card. So what's it all about? You've got 1 minute to tell us!

Tancrède du Réau: It's a universal gift card for companies and works councils. It's a 100% dematerialized gift card, with zero plastic and zero paper, and it's universal because it's backed by the Visa network. It is accepted by 70 million retailers, both local and large, in France and abroad.

What's more, it's based on solidarity, which is at the heart of the project. So why is it socially responsible? Because, in fact, it enables companies and employees to support great causes through donations, and this is part of the CSR approach, giving it greater meaning. How does it work in practice? The company offers a gift card to its employees or customers, who can then donate all or part of the value of the gift card to associations of general or public interest. Our aim is to redirect the billion euros lost each year on gift cards - which is quite a colossal sum - to charities.

Carole Ferry: Thank you for your pitch, so like every day, it's Nathalie Carré who looks at your file and tells us what its strengths and weaknesses are!

Nathalie Carré: It's true that traditional gift vouchers take up a lot of space in your wallet, so you put them in a cupboard and then forget about them! And indeed, over 20% of gift vouchers are never used, so with an application in your phone, you always have it with you. Bravo for this dematerialized aspect, which also limits manufacturing costs and therefore ecological impact. So, a few suggestions: more and more restaurant voucher cards are also offering gift cards for their employees. What advantages do you offer? Can you explain what happens when gift vouchers are not used? We know that recipients lose their gifts - but who loses out? Give some explanations to convince people of the benefits of your solution.

How do you select the associations? Do you have a charter, for example? We know that the French prefer to give to associations they know. Could a company donate to associations run by its employees? There are plenty of association managers in companies, and it strengthens the bonds between colleagues. Make use cases too, to show how easy it is to initialize, how much it costs for 100 cards for example, how easy it is to manage the cards - in fact, they're not cards but accounts: do you have a lifetime account that the company tops up? Or through donations to associations, how does that work?

And finally, you insist on the solidarity aspect and explain that unspent sums are paid back to associations. But one of the arguments of your solution is that there should be fewer unspent amounts. So on average, how much do you pay back to these associations? In short, more explanations to save time for any companies that might be interested!

Tancrède du Réau: In fact, today we're trying to reconcile the best of fintech, the best of user experience in gift cards and solidarity. As you said, today there are more and more cards in the form of luncheon vouchers, for example dematerialized. What we offer is the same experience, but in the form of a gift card that can be adapted both internally, since it meets employees' reward needs, and externally. Sorewards can also be offered as part of customer loyalty programs and sales challenges. Today, we're working with a number of customers on outsourced rewards. In other words, rewards are offered to people who are not employees. To answer your question, we've completely overhauled our business model. We've completely overhauled it, so we're not remunerated on non-consumption - which represents 20%, as you mentioned - nor on the commission we earn as a business introducer for a network of brands.

Carole Ferry: So how do you finance yourselves?

Tancrède du Réau: That's a good question, because we believe that it's up to companies and works councils to bear the cost, rather than passing it on to gift card recipients or the acceptance network.

Carole Ferry: And are customers actually going to make donations or to local shops? Have you seen any evidence of this?

Tancrède du Réau: Absolutely, because - I don't know if you can see this - but donations are at the forefront, and we have set up a partnership with some twenty associations. They range from international solidarity to local associations. Our aim is to develop these partnerships. One thing I'd like to make clear is that we propose associations, but we also have corporate customers who are already defending causes - I think that Crédit Agricole defends causes - and they are proactive. For example, one company, a major player in the agri-food sector, told us "I'd like to support the Restos du cœur and I'd even like to match the donations made by gift card beneficiaries to this association". I just wanted to finish by saying that the associations clearly see their interest in this. In fact, we're becoming a scheme a bit like microDON, l'arrondi, and what's interesting is that they're playing the game in terms of communication. The more they communicate with gift card beneficiaries who have money in their hands, the more the donation will be transformed. Let me remind you that there are 2 ways of giving: either it's the gift card recipient who gives, or it's the company through the unused portion, which is paid back to the association.

Carole Ferry: Philippe Brassac, CEO of Crédit Agricole, what do you think? Tancrède du Réau is proposing a new means of payment?

Philippe Brassac: It's a delight to listen to that. It's sometimes said that the purpose of a company is to undertake, and therefore to participate in the material progress of society through innovation. People often think this is theoretical. In fact, it's very concrete! And start-up managers like that always start with a new use for society. The only advice I can give is that when you're going to succeed, there are centrifugal forces that will pull you away from operationality. You really have to stick to the customer's use, to your utility, because utility is the most beautiful and hardest law of the markets.

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