A company set up by three French women aims to give a second life to discarded washing machines and other household appliances.
Underdog has raised €3.8million to expand its first reconditioning workshop in Nantes and its internet-based sales platform.
Claire Bretton, the company’s CEO and co-founder, with Laura Chavigny and Léa de Fierkowsky, said: “In setting up the company, we started from a simple fact: that 25 million household appliances are thrown away each year.
“Only 3% are reconditioned, which compares with 12% of similarly priced smartphones.”
Local reconditioning workshops
Another French company, Back Market, is one of the global leaders in reconditioned smartphones. Unlike them, however, Underdog intends to keep all the reconditioning in-house.
“We see the solution being to recondition locally. With Underdog, we want to prove that it is something that can be done on a large scale,” said Ms Bretton.
She was the founder of an internet sales platform before deciding to move into the reconditioning business.
Up to half price and two-year guarantee
She says the company’s reconditioned washing machines and tumble dryers – other appliances will be added later – will sell for up to half the price of new models and all come with a two-year guarantee.
The company also assures delivery and installation.
Its website is up and running, and had a choice of 17 brands at the time of writing.
Mid-range machines from Italian manufacturer Candy showed discounts of between 27% and 15% on what the company said were new prices, equivalent to €151 for the largest discount.
Underdog currently has 10 employees, five of whom are repairers, and it intends to recruit another 12 this year.
It also hopes to open more workshops soon, and has ambitions to expand into Belgium, Germany and Spain.
Working with partners on transportation
Underdog is keeping quiet about where it sources its appliances, but French washing machine installers have to offer a ‘take away’ service of old machines to reduce the chances of them being dumped in the countryside.
Many of the machines go for scrap, but some might be in the reconditioning market.
“Washing machines and dryers are heavy, difficult to move around and expensive to transport,” said Ms Bretton.
“But we have signed up with a number of partners to get around these problems.”
After washing machines and tumble dryers, the company intends to expand into reconditioning fridges and freezers, and then ovens.