Rare are leaders who speak without wooden tongue about their biggest mistakes, their bad decisions or even their own chess. Damiano Morin he is one of the few French tech entrepreneurs to have shared his eventful adventure at Save, his start-up repair smartphones placed into 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.clubwho just completed a eight million euro round table with 130 business angels. “I first approached the funds but I realized that there was a cultural gap between us and the companies they invest in. We are not a “fund restorer” [un investissement qui permet de rembourser la totalité d’un fonds, NDLR] “, points out Damien Morin, who had no problem convincing individual investors to finance his smartphone rental start-up created in 2018.
He, the business angel which he 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 Associates to save and best friend.
A musical meeting
Antonio Martino, co-founder of Zenly , was the first to bet. “When I found out that he was building a box with the goal of being profitable quickly, I invested and joined the board,” says the boss who met Damien Morin more than a decade ago … at a nightclub club. At the time, Antoine Martin organized club nights to support himself as he still couldn’t pay himself a salary Zenly.
“Damien was first a customer, then he became a DJ during the creation of Save,” recalls the manager who introduced him to key figures in French technology such as Jean de la Rochebrochard (Kima Ventures), Xavier Niel or even 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 some arrangements of The family. Yes, there’s dull stuff in there, but I’m 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”, the entrepreneur blurs.
“Damien hasn’t lost his power and his desire to make it between Save and mobile.club”, testifies Jean de la Rochebrochard, who returned to the plate through 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 through a lot of money very quickly. After that, I wanted to rebuild a healthy company from the beginning, 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 it wasn’t quite aggressive, finally passed the trend “, analyzes Antoine Martin, referring to profitability which is the new word fashion in French technology.
Winning 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 revenue in 2022 with the same team. I don’t know of any other company that has managed to do the same,” observes Antoine Martin.
“He applied all the lessons learned at mobile.club, namely 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 ”, underlines Jean de la Rochebrochard.
Apple? Not even fear
Objective for 2023: to double its income, in particular by going abroad, while maintaining a good level of liquidity. Because the same mobile.club buys smartphones – which cost more and more – and then rents them for between 13.90 and 42.90 euros a month, including damage and theft insurance. He has also stopped offering a non-binding offer, which obviously reduces the retention rate and guarantees his future income.
“If a smartphone breaks, I replace it within 48 hours, which means I always have to have some in stock,” explains Damien Morin, who has just contracted a five million euro debt with Eiffel Investment, which will be used within three months. “Eiffel could rise to 25 million in the next 12 or 18 months”, specifies the boss who is not worried about the rate hike.
«If the tariff increases by 2%, I will be able to re-impact it on the price of my customers», sweeps away the entrepreneur who currently supports 25 thousand subscribers. And if Apple offers one day rental 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 rentals”, defends the boss.
Mobile. club does not plan to expand its product range 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. “It continues and will continue to make people dance,” assures Hugo Saias. And about his passion, no one can lecture him.