Rare are the leaders to speak without language of wood of their biggest errors, their bad decisions or even their chess. Damien Morin is one of a handful of French Tech entrepreneurs to have shared his very eventful adventure at Save, his start-up repair smartphones placed in receivership at the end of 2016 then bought by the Remade group eight months later.
An experience that allowed him to learn many lessons for his second company, mobile.clubwhich has just completed a round table of eight million euros with 130 business angels. “I first approached the funds but I realized that there was a cultural divide between us and the companies in which they invest. We are not a ‘fund returner’ [un investissement qui permet de rembourser la totalité d’un fonds, NDLR] “, underlines Damien Morin, who had no trouble convincing individual investors to finance his smartphone rental start-up created in 2018.
Him, the business angel who has invested in around fifty nuggets since 2015. “He’s a real social animal, respected by many people, and he’s one of the most influential people on the Parisian tech scene”, observes Hugo Saias, his old associated at Save and best friend.
A musical encounter
Anthony Martin, co-founder of Zenly , was the first to pot. “When I found out that he was building a box with the aim of being quickly profitable, I invested and joined the board”, says the boss who met Damien Morin more than ten years ago… in a night club. At the time, Antoine Martin organized evenings in clubs to support himself since he could not yet pay himself a salary with Zenly.
“Damien was first a customer then became a DJ there while setting up Save”, recalls the manager who introduced him to key French Tech personalities such as Jean de la Rochebrochard (Kima Ventures), Xavier Niel or even the very controversial Osama Amarco-founder of The Family, accused by his former associates of breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery .
“I was in a few deals of The Family. Yes, there are opaque things in there but I am not unhappy with my investment. Above all, the founders of The Family helped me a lot with the launch of Save, when I was only 22 years old”, nuances the entrepreneur.
“Damien has not lost his energy and his desire to succeed between Save and mobile.club”, testifies Jean de la Rochebrochard, who returned to the pot via Kima Ventures. Damien Morin, on the other hand, has lost some (bad?) habits. No hypergrowth at all costs with spending in all directions, but controlled management.
“Save burned a lot of money very quickly. After that, I wanted to rebuild a healthy company from the start, limit capital losses as much as possible and put myself in an acceptable level of risk, ”says the 30-year-old. “A lot of people told him two or three years ago that he wasn’t aggressive enough, he finally got ahead of the tendency “, analyzes Antoine Martin, in reference to the profitability which is the new word fashion in French Tech.
Successful bet for Damien Morin because mobile.club recorded 10 million euros in turnover in 2022 with a loss of “only” 500,000 euros. “He tripled his income in 2022 with the same size squad. I don’t know of any other companies that have managed to do the same,” notes Antoine Martin.
“He applied all the lessons learned at mobile.club, ie cash control, controlled growth, a hyper-sophisticated information and monitoring system. He has the profile of an entrepreneur who has a lot of merit in his history, in his rebound,” emphasizes Jean de la Rochebrochard.
Apple? Not even afraid
Objective for 2023: to double its income, in particular by going abroad, while maintaining a good level of cash. Because mobile.club itself buys the smartphones – which are more and more expensive – and then rents them between 13.90 and 42.90 euros per month, including breakage and theft insurance. It has also stopped offering a non-binding offer, which obviously reduces the retention rate and secures its future income.
“If a smartphone is broken, I replace it within 48 hours, which means that I always have to have some in stock”, explains Damien Morin, who has just contracted a debt of five million euros with Eiffel Investment, which will be used within three months. “Eiffel can go up to 25 million over the next 12 or 18 months”, specifies the boss who is not worried about the rise in rates.
“If the rate increases by 2%, I will be able to re-impact it on the price of my customers”, sweeps the entrepreneur who claims to date 25,000 members. And if Apple offers rental one day in France, as it does in UNITED STATES ? “It will democratize the market, it’s a good opportunity for us. We rent smartphones that are not necessarily new, not like Apple. We are a bit like the Back Market for smartphone rental, ”defends the boss.
Mobile. club does not plan to expand its range of products with tablets for example, but to accelerate the rental of fleets of electronic devices including smartphones, an activity that began discreetly in 2022. One thing does not change: music. “He continues and will continue to make people dance,” assures Hugo Saias. And about his passion, no one can lecture him.
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Rebound: Damien Morin, off to a good start with mobile.club
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