Contxto – Everyone deserves a second chance. Well, maybe not everyone. But your smartphone does.
And Chilean e-commerce site and repairing center, Rephone, is providing this possibility by buying off old or unwanted phones, fixing them up, and then reselling them.
The startup is currently looking to raise an investment round and expand into Mexico this year and into Colombia by 2021.
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This startup has a few years under its belt and hit the smartphone wave just as it was rising.
Its founder, Felipe Broitman, came up with the idea in 2010. He, along with a roommate, launched this phone buying and repairing service in February of 2011. The original plan was to buy smartphones from Chileans, then resell them to other developing countries.
However, in the name of making a profit, they switched strategies and turned to buying off phones from developing countries, and then selling them in Chile.
However, this drew Apple’s attention and not in a good way.
Long story short, Rephone won that legal battle, and the tech giant’s lawyers backed off. But they did lower their costly phones’ prices in an attempt to suffocate the startup. And for a time they struggled to make ends meet entering “startup survival mode.”
By 2017 buying used tech became a more common practice. It was at that point that Rephone was able to gain a foothold with its business model. By 2019 it billed around US$2.9 million.
Its overall strategy consists of offering their repaired phones in marketplaces, then collaborating with retailers. But the bigger partners are the phone companies themselves.
Loving second-hand phones
I’d say Rephone is set to increase its billables for the future. Phone companies will continue to release new models every year but given the attached price tag, it’s probably a less attractive option for some users. Even “middle-tier” phones don’t appeal to everyone.
Add the fact that there’s an increasing awareness of all the waste that’s generated by disposing of phones. This may lead some consumers to opt for buying a used phone from a reliable vendor.
But don’t get me wrong, Apple knows its iPhones will continue to be a sensation among fans. Albeit, it may have a harder time connecting with this niche of budget limited and environmentally conscious people.