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Philip Franta and Fabien Rastouil first met each other during the Antler startup programme in 2019.
The two immediately clicked as they realised that they shared an ambition to found a fast-growing sustainable company.
They initially worked on an idea that revolved around corporate wellbeing, but soon realised that they could make a bigger impact by building the circular economy for tech devices.
They felt that this particular space has “flourished in many other regions” but observed that the Southeast Asia (SEA) region is lacking a company in this space, so they wanted to fill the gap.
Both Philip and Fabien have had working experiences in this industry, so they are confident in their idea from the get-go.
“Fabien was one of the first team members of Recommerce, a pioneer in Europe empowering telco trade-ins. I myself had the experience in the rental space for consumer electronics,” said Philip, co-founder and CEO of Reebelo.
“Together, we decided to build Reebelo and tackle the immense problem of e-waste growth and high prices for tech devices.”
According to Philip, e-waste is the fastest growing waste category in the world. Collectively, the world produced 50 million tons of e-waste in the last year alone.
More than 70 per cent of e-waste is not properly recycled and ends up polluting landfills in underdeveloped countries.
Regionally, Singapore is Southeast Asia’s (SEA) biggest e-waste producer so they felt that Singapore was the “right place” to begin Reebelo.
The online marketplace for refurbished electronics lets you buy, trade or sell; and was founded with the vision to refresh the way people consume electronics.
We believe that there is a more sustainable way to consume tech devices than what is currently practiced.
With tech devices becoming increasingly more expensive despite being replaced more often, Reebelo promises to offer electronics that are fully functional and quality certified at affordable prices.
According to Philips, Reebelo customers can get electronics at up to 70 per cent off its retail value — depending on categories, brands and models.
He added that the average savings would probably fall between 30 and 40 per cent for devices which are as good as new.
Aside from affordability, buying refurbished electronics is also a sustainable option.
“We also offer buyback solutions where customers can sell their devices to our refurbishing partners. That way, we are able to avoid old and spare tech devices collecting dust in our drawers and provide them with a longer life(span).”
Reebelo was launched in October 2019 and Philips feel that the timing was “perfect”.
Commenting on the business traction so far, he said that Reebelo has “picked up momentum rather quickly in Singapore.”
Regardless of their strong growth, they are still fraught with business challenges.
For one, the team struggles with educating consumers on the pertinent e-waste problem though they have observed that consumers are getting increasingly involved and concerned with sustainable consumption.
Secondly, they find it difficult to establish themselves as a quality and trustworthy marketplace.
“We tackle that by showing our Reebelo vision, one customer at a time. … We really care about the satisfaction of our users.”
Reebelo is touted as a registered second-hand goods dealer and is monitored by the Singapore Police Force.
To guarantee the quality, their pre-owned devices come with up to 10 months warranty, and they also offer free returns for seven days as well as free delivery. These help to build trust among consumers.
Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic posed as another business challenge to the startup.
“During lockdown, we hired and onboarded a number of new team members, many of which we had not seen in person.”
Its team has grown to around 15 members now and are still hiring amid the pandemic to support its growth.
“(We) focus on hiring the right team members who not only can bring along skills, but also fit into (our) company culture. We believe in flat hierarchies and that everybody in our team can make an impact with his or her work,” said Philips.
On the upside, the pandemic has accelerated the rise of e-commerce.
“Fortunately for us, the working from home phenomenon presented an opportunity as it increased the demand for affordable tech devices, which Reebelo was able to offer.”
Philips acknowledged that Singapore is a competitive market with strong established brands.
“We believe that Reebelo’s focus on our sustainable vision and customers sets us apart from many other players.”
Reebelo has raised a seed funding round of US$1.25 million led by June Fund, with participation from Antler and several additional angel investors and entrepreneurs.
Our mission is ambitious — we’d like to be the pioneer of the circular economy for electronics across Asia Pacific and contribute to a healthier planet heart.
While we are profitable on a per unit level, our goal for the future is to continue raising funds to have to continuously scale our social impact.
Following the funding, Reebelo has recently expanded to Australia in October 2020.
Explaining this move, Philips said scaling up in a small market like Singapore is challenging and there are many interesting markets in the region with high growth potential.
“We selected Australia because we had good industry insights into the Australian market and a strong local team helping to build a solid foundation for Reebelo Australia,” he added.
The startup plans to expand to other markets in the region, but Philips would not disclose yet which markets they are eyeing for now.
However, he shared that they are on track to reach their goal of acquiring 10,000 customers this year.
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