My friend Stan & his Book a Flat venture
The creator, the versatile, the talented entrepreneur. My friend Stan.
Stan and I both went to school together at the French Lycée in London, a while back now. I remember him as being a calm, quietly confident, always very respectful person.
Then years later, for the purpose of this blog venture I contacted Stanislas out of the blue. Stanislas Coûteaux has created a beautiful and inspiring concept and service that is now taking off in big ways! We met up after years over some chocolate and coffee on rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré and it seemed to flow naturally and immediately.
Stan created his company Book a Flat in 2004. I asked him some questions as I really wanted to know why and how he set up this really successful company that Paris Hues is now partnering up with!
Fiona: So how did you get the idea for Book a Flat?
Stan: I am a lover of Paris and it’s architecture but also it’s many interiors. I have been lucky to move about and live in many different apartments and areas of Paris in my life and felt that I had to represent all the many apartments in Paris for people who need to rent for a while. I am also a real fan of the web and all the possibilities it gives us for business and cultural purposes. I had bought a studio flat and rented it out via Craig’s List and that gave me the idea to broaden my horizons to other people’s apartments.
Fiona: Once you had the idea and concept for your company, how did you go about setting it up?
Stan: I used the web to all my advantages. I first built up a list of apartments that I could rent out (by contacting owners in Paris and offering them my services) and then decided to publish them on Craig’s List. The first customers were mostly American of course. One day, on the professional network Small World I met Geraldine, my now business partner and we decided to go for coffee at Le 2 Magots. Our collaboration all started with that one drink! We started helping each other out with each others businesses (she sold flats and I rented them) and then decided to concentrate on short and long term rentals in Paris. The concept was great and the need for that kind of service was big.
Fiona: so how did you develop after that, what was your next stage up?
Stan: In 2006 I decided to create a website to carry all of the apartments to rent but also so that people could actually go online and rent directly themselves. We were 2 with Geraldine at the time! So we created the website www.book-a-flat.com and also invested in our offices on Place Vendome in central Paris. The best views in town seemed apt for a company selling the Parisian dream!
Fiona: so how is Book a Flat doing today?
Stan: we have worked hard to grow the number of apartments on offer, to increase the diversity of flats and try and make sure that at any one point, we have about 1500 apartments available (which represent a third of our total portfolio). Today I have a team of 18 people working with me instead of the team of 2 that we were in 2006 and in six years we have multiplied by 10 our turnover.
Fiona: who rents from Book a Flat?
Stan: it can go from a company wanting to rent for one of their employees coming to France for a while, tourists looking for a beautiful let or even people who, for personal reasons, need to move out of their homes and rent in Paris. The average let is for about 6 months.
Fiona: so, where do you go from here?
Stan: well, we are currently moving into our new bigger offices on 18 rue Volnay, round the corner from Place Vendome. It will give us space to continue to develop. Also, my new projects are also creating the same concept in London and New York and we are well on our way to launching these services beginning of next year. It’s so exiting for us all!
Fiona: and why, how did you decide to do all this Stan? What do you get out of this?
Stan: I need to be free from hierarchy, free to roam as I please. I also need to create, to meet people of all ages and casts, this job and project enables me to do all of that. From the owners to the people who rent, to the people who help us look after the flats and even the web designers, I have tailored my business so that I am free to navigate around it as I wish. To do things my way, the independent way.
That’s just the way I have always seen Stan, ever since we were 14 and going to class together. Some people are born creators and you can see that star in their eyes from really early on. Stan, despite his success, still remains the free spirited, super creative and kind person that I met all those years ago.
It’s good to know that some people never really change.