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‘As our lead investor, imec.istart was the first domino’

Moving homes can be quite a hassle. The online platform Smooved is a free online one-stop shop to optimize all your moving administration in one go. It takes care of everything from insurances and internet connections to contracts with electricity and water suppliers. Co-founder Nathan Coox has been on a rollercoaster that accelerated strongly over the past year. “One of the biggest challenges for a startup founder is keeping your mental state of mind in check.”

One-stop shop to optimize your move

After a trip to Australia and New Zealand, Nathan started juggling around entrepreneurial ideas. “One of the ideas my co-founder Ignace and I stumbled upon was a platform to help people moving homes. We had both already moved a few times and we knew that it was a heavy burden. You need to get insurance, you need to sign contracts for water and electricity, you need an internet connection, you need to make sure your mail arrives at your new address in time, etc. We stumbled upon a survey that said a move is the third most stressful period in people’s lives, right after getting divorced and losing your job.”


Smooved liberates people from the entire administrative hassle of moving, Nathan explains. “It’s an online one-stop shop to optimize your move. You don’t need to log in to 35 different websites and you don’t need to fill out your personal details 35 times. The platform takes care of everything, from getting insured to renting a truck. You only need to worry about packing those boxes.”

Smooved found product-market fit by tweaking its go-to-market towards real estate brokers. They use the platform to unburden their clients by means of an extra service. “When we came up with the idea for Smooved, we still had to turn that idea into a viable business”, Nathan says. “Helping people move is great, but you need to find a way to make it scalable and ideally also recurring. That’s why we decided to focus on the real estate offices and put much of the servicing in their hands. Every time they convert a client, they share in the revenues generated from the utility suppliers.”

Looking for traction early on

The first few months of Smooved were very tough, Nathan admits. “Our technical co-founder was only available for one day a week in the beginning. (laughs) The first version of our platform was super crappy. But there was also an upside to those technical struggles. They forced us to take a head start on other domains. Most startups only start looking for traction when their product is ready. We put a lot of time in commercial validation right from the start. We started talking to stakeholders very early on. We knew what real estate agents and utility suppliers expected and we quickly managed to tailor the platform to their needs.”

“One day we were struggling really hard, the next day the rocket accelerated at a pace we never expected. Today, our platform takes care of about 1,500 moves – every month. In just one year, we managed to grow by a factor of 20 and conquer 10 percent of the Belgian market.”

The right drumbeat

One of Nathan’s biggest challenges as a startup founder is keeping his mental state of mind in check. “Smooved has been a real rollercoaster so far. As a founder, you have to stay focused on the goals you set. Don’t get upset when clients churn, when new competitors enter your market, when you don’t immediately see user adoption of new features. But it works both ways. Don’t get dragged away when you sign your first deals or when you achieve double digit growth. Keep a cool head.”

Team Smooved

“Growing your team is also a big challenge for a startup. When your team no longer fits in one meeting room or in one call, you need to find processes that scale. You need to install the right drumbeat and find a way to make sure everyone is working towards the same targets. We are finding out that’s easier said than done. It’s particularly challenging to strike the right balance between installing processes that drive value, and minimizing the overhead they create.”

Imec.istart as a seal of approval

Smooved completed a seed round of almost 1 million euros and is ready for the next chapter. With a little help from imec.istart, Nathan emphasizes. “Imec.istart acted as lead investor. It was the first domino that made all the others fall. Imec.istart is a seal of approval, it gives your startup credibility and convinces other investors to jump on board. Imec.istart also helped us to draw up a watertight shareholders’ agreement.”

“We’re investigating other markets such as the Netherlands, Germany and others. It’s likely we’ll start experimenting in one of those before the end of the year. Our product not only optimizes moving, it also allows real estate brokers to monitor customer satisfaction and even boost it. Brokers can use Smooved to provide offers and discounts, to exchange gifts, to turn customers into true ambassadors. We are convinced that part of the platform can become a stand-alone product we can export to other markets.”

Interested to know more? In their 'Hero Cases' you'll find out what real estate brokers have to say about Smooved.