June 14, 2018

Back Market raises $48m to fix your phone — and the broken electronics repair industry

As legislation tilts in the favor of consumers’ right to repair their electronic devices, French repair marketplace Back Market leads the pack with a $48m funding round

Back Market, a Paris-based marketplace for refurbished consumer electronics, raised $48m in VC money to capitalize on cracks in the repair industry.

The company started out answering the calls of fed-up customers who wanted more options to repair expensive devices — and found a huge, untapped market in the process.

Planned obsolescence may become obsolete

Historically, tech devices were discarded instead of repaired — sometimes because rapid-fire improvements made old devices unusable, but usually because hardware companies made products obsolete to sell new models.

*Stares mournfully at perfectly functional, now unusable corded headphones*

But recently, lawsuits in several countries — particularly in France — and “right to repair” legislation in 17 US states have started to crack down on companies (especially Apple) that make it nearly impossible for consumers to repair their devices.

Fix an iPhone, fix an industry

With refurbished phones now available, consumers are opting for used phones over new ones that cost as much as cars (*cough* iPhone X) — last year, 1 in 10 iPhones purchased in the US was refurbished.

But, Back Market wants to push this trend even further — by partnering with the increasing number of refurbishment factories and selling their certified refurbed devices (backed by a 6-month warranty) from Back Market’s centralized 3rd-party platform.

So far, it’s been successful. Back Market just debuted in its 6th country (the United States), and the 3.5-year-old company already made a profit and more than $100m in revenue last year.

Now, the phone-fixing race is on

With its newfound cash, Back Market hopes to expand its lead on competitors like iCracked, iFixit, Save, Repair Cafe.

But Back Market has a triple-threat advantage — Partnerships with 270 non-proprietary repair factories, an HQ in right-to-repair-righteous France, and a hot $48m in funding — that positions it to out-fix the competition in the near future.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Back Market is a marketplace that sells certified refurbished phones, rather than a service to repair phones that users currently own.

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