Research - 07.02.2024 - 10:00 

From student job to the top of the market

Keeping the addresses of customers and business partners up to date is a tedious task for many companies. The founders of the start-up Cohaga have taken on this task and turned an underpaid student job into a lucrative start-up that can keep up with the big players in the market.

HSG graduate Isabel Bischof sits in her new office at Fürstensstrasse 41 in St.Gallen. At the end of last year, she moved here with her start-up Cohaga to create more space for the now more than 20 employees, many of whom are HSG graduates. A huge leap in development, considering that the company began five years ago with an underpaid student job for Bischof's co-founder and business partner Fabio Mätzler. Mätzler, who was studying at the University of Basel at the time, had been given the task of collating the current addresses of retirement homes on the university's job exchange. Compensation for this was paid on a flat-rate basis. However, Mätzler quickly realised that the hourly rate was too low. So, with the client's consent, he asked other organisations potentially interested in the addresses and was eventually able to sell the list to over 20 other customers at a profit. The idea for the start-up was born.

Taking on the competition with a lot of manual labour

In 2020, he and Isabel Bischof officially founded Cohaga. Due to their low capital requirements for providing their services, they never had to rely on business angels or other outside capital. "Back then, we really had to find all the addresses by hand," says Bischof. "But it was already profitable and we were able to grow organically with the first few orders. "The fact that they succeeded is astonishing, especially as they also had to compete against large established competitors in the address market. "I think because we were so small, we were able to be more agile than the big players. We simply approached customers very directly and responded to their individual needs."

It's no longer possible without IT

However, Cohaga is already feeling the pressure from the big competition. Technological advances in recent years, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence, are also presenting the young company with challenges. The company is therefore currently investing heavily in digital development and has expanded its IT team. Of course, the company cannot keep up with large international address agencies that operate throughout the DACH region and their hundreds of programmers. The company is therefore simply focussing on the Swiss market, as it has the advantage over these competitors that we are closer to our customers: "We have the goal of becoming the market leader in Switzerland." The DACH region is a prospect, but a secondary one. Nevertheless, Cohaga has recently developed a product with which they also want to gain market share beyond Switzerland's borders: With the "Adress Care"  tool, companies can analyse their address systems to ensure they are up-to-date and consistent.

Image: Isabel Bischof

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