Reebelo, based in Singapore with offices in Asia and Australia, wants to make buying second-hand technology as attractive as buying a brand new device. “What we’ve seen is that a lot of younger generations are very open to the idea of sustainable consumption,” co-founder Philip Franta told TechCrunch. “We’re seeing a lot of growth and momentum in space globally, but also here in this region, because I think we’re finally at the stage as a society where we realize that the way we’ve consumed in the past isn’t sustainable.”
Investors agree that Reebelo is today announcing a $20 million Series A led by Cathay Innovation and June Fund. Other participants include FJ Labs, Naver affiliate KREAM, Moore Strategic Ventures, French Partners and Gandel Invest. Returning backers also contributed, such as Antler, Maximilian Bittner (co-founder of Lazada and current CEO of Vestiaire Collective, an e-commerce site for curated second-hand fashion), and Michael Cassau, the founder and CEO of Grover, a tech rental platform.
Reebelo’s latest funding was a $1 million seed round announced in June 2020. The company was founded in 2019 by Franta and Fabien Rastouil. It says its revenue has grown 600% year-over-year in less than two years and it now has 10,000 monthly customers and is approaching nearly $100 million in annualized gross commercial value. It has offices in Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan.
In an interview, Franta and Rastouil said they wanted to create a startup that combined social and entrepreneurial impact. Both had similar work experience in Europe: Franta was involved in telecom subscription programs, while Rastouil worked at Recommerce Solutions, a French platform for second-hand devices.
But the two said there was no such thing as Recommerce yet in Singapore, where Rastouil grew up.
Unlike many e-commerce marketplaces, Reebelo selects its suppliers with an emphasis on standardizing the condition of devices and a specific rating system for shoppers, using criteria such as aesthetics (for example, if the device has a few scratches) and the battery life. Partner suppliers range from small stores to B2B players with much larger volumes of devices. Reebelo’s goal is to build the largest stock of used refurbished appliances and says it is already the market leader in Singapore and Australia.
Before adding suppliers to its platform, Reebelo screens them, verifies that they are legal businesses, assesses their ratings on various distribution channels, and ensures that they are willing to abide by Reebelo’s quality controls, returns, and terms and conditions. The latter includes 14 days of free returns and a one-year free warranty.
“This helps filter the suppliers quite well initially, as some don’t want to agree to a one-year warranty,” said Franta.
But Reebelo also sees its suppliers as customers.
“We want to be a platform for all players in this circular economy,” says Rastouil, including suppliers who are just starting to sell certified second-hand devices. “Sellers are also our customers, because we really want to create this entire circular economy with them in the region because it’s new for everyone.”
In terms of competition, Reebelo’s founders say it’s a first step in the APAC region, as opposed to Europe, where there are already several marketplaces for second-hand devices. Rather than other ecommerce platforms, the biggest challenge is convincing customers that second-hand devices can be just as good as brand new ones.
“There is quite a bit of stigma in some countries here in the region, so the first challenge we had to overcome in the beginning was building trust with our users,” says Franta. “That meant we really had to change our minds from buying new ones to buying refurbished ones, but I think we accomplished a lot.”
The new funding will be used to hire approximately 50 new employees in Reebelo’s existing markets, across divisions, and to expand into new markets, including South Korea, by 2022. It plans to offer new financial services such as a device subscription, extended warranties in some areas, damage coverage or protection against stolen phones. It also expands its verticals. Right now, Reebelo’s main category is smartphones, but it wants to sell more tablets, laptops and drones.
In a statement, Rajive Keshup, investment director of Cathay Innovation, said: “Reebelo provides a platform and marketplace for consumers that makes it easier for everyone to obtain electronic goods, while at the same time helping to solve the problem of e-waste. The company provides a crucial platform for the circular economy in Southeast Asia and Australia, and we look forward to helping drive their expansion and growth.”