Damien Morin isn’t your average first-time founder. In less than two years, he managed to turn a non-scalable smartphone repair shop into an exponentially growing startup with hundreds of employees and more than $1.5 million in monthly revenue.
Part of TheFamily, his startup Save (née Save My Smartphone) raised $16.7 million in equity and debt from IdInvest, 360 Capital Partners and business angels, such as Xavier Niel.
$16.7 million for a smartphone repair service seems unusual. But Save isn’t your average smartphone repair shop. The company’s website lists 78 different shops, most of them in French malls. With Save, you can leave your phone with a cracked display, shop and come back 20 minutes later to pick up your phone.
What if you don’t live near a Save shop? You can have a courier pick it up making Save a sort of Uber for smartphone reparations. You can also mail in your phone in a prepaid box. It will cost you the exact same price for all these channels — for example, replacing your iPhone 6 display costs €129. Another example, a Galaxy S5 battery replacement costs €39. Save supports hundreds of models and dozens of different reparations. Chances are Save can fix your broken camera, button or worn-down battery.
Smartphones are just the first step as the company now wants to repair your laptop, smartwatch and any other electronics device. The company now has 250 repairmen and repairwomen. But Save’s growth strategy is even more impressive.
“We overplan everything because we need to create processes to foster growth,” Damien Morin told me. “We try to open a point of sale every day. An HR team comes one day and one day only in a city a month and a half before launching in this city. Then, candidates get a month of in-house training. In the meantime, we manufacture the stand.”
“We do road shows with containers filled with Save stands. Then we need to scale the supply side and bring enough repair parts to our points of sales.”
Save’s operations seem like a complex Chinese puzzle. It seems like everything could fall apart because the company is trying to grow so quickly, but apparently the company can sustain this growth rate. According to Les Échos, the company grows by 5 percent every week. It has been hiring dozens of people every month for the past year in order to keep up with the demand.
When asked about competition, Morin said that the most important player in this space is probably iCracked. But this American company is a bit different as it only provides leads to partners. By having a marketplace approach, Morin believes that iCracked can’t control the experience and is leaving money on the table.
Another competitor called Eden seems to work more like Save, but it looks like it’s a smaller company compared to the French startup as the company launched in May 2015. I asked Morin how he tries out these competing services. And sure enough, he just throws a smartphone on the ground and then asks for a reparation.
For now, Save is only available in France, Switzerland and Sweden. Save is expanding to the U.K., Spain, Portugal and Belgium in the coming months. In 2016, the company is going to continue its European expansion with Poland, Hungary, other Eastern Europe countries as well as the U.S. and Canada. “In France, you have around ten malls with a traffic of more than a dozen million annual visitors. In the U.S., there are 500 malls like that,” Morin said. That’s why the U.S. is Save’s most promising country, and the company is well on its way.