Benjamin Blanchard (MSc 2016), co-founder of eco-responsible start-up MURFY

Published on 06/01/2020
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Murfy, a start-up co-founded by Benjamin Blanchard (MSc 2016), provides on-site repair services for domestic appliances no longer under guarantee. The aim is to offer a solution that is quicker and more economical and responsible than the purchase of a new appliance.

Tell us how your business came about

It all started when the washing machine in the shared apartment of one of our associates stopped working. We decided to have it repaired. What a nightmare! The existing services, specialized in the repair of appliances still under guarantee, offered us exorbitant rates and a delay of several weeks. We all like a bit of DIY, so we tried to repair it ourselves. After struggling for several hours, we managed to identify and change the faulty part and extend the life of our appliance (which is still working!).

Despite the time it took us, we were proud of ourselves. By replacing a part that cost less than €30 and weighed only a few grams, we managed to avoid throwing away an appliance that would have produced more than 60 kg of electronic waste and costs on average €600.

That experience left its mark, so we started to study the market in detail. It was an edifying process. Every year, 28 million home appliances break down in France, but only 5 million are repaired. That means 23 million products are thrown away every year, generating electronic waste at an estimated 920,000 tonnes (source: ADEME 2014). The negligible volume of repairs is due to the lack of clarity and performance of the offer on the existing market: unpredictable costs or excessive delays. This is all the more frustrating given that 80% of the appliances are worth repairing (the cost of repairs does not exceed 40% of the price of a new appliance). What’s more, the waste generated by domestic appliances is almost impossible to recycle.

Our research ultimately left us convinced: there was a huge opportunity ready to seize. To re-establish the reflex of repairing things, we had to set up shop and implement our vision: an independent domestic appliance repair service with an unbeatable customer experience!

What is your initial assessment of this entrepreneurial adventure? 

It’s been crazy! In just one year, we went from 5 co-founders to 50 employees, all really committed. We have repaired more than 12,000 appliances, representing more than 720 tonnes of waste avoided. In 2019 we will have generated more than €1 million in revenue, which allowed us to successfully complete a fundraising campaign this summer. We will use this money to expand our business nationally (Paris region, northern France, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Nice), and we also launched a machine refurbishing workshop to complement our existing offer.

Entrepreneurship is a demanding and stressful environment, but also offers a very steep learning curve. You have the kind of freedom to act that you would never find anywhere else.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

My advice is not to overthink it and just take the plunge, especially if you’re itching to get going. Don’t spend too much time refining your idea on paper: in an uncertain environment, you learn best through actions. For example, we repaired the first 200 machines ourselves, directly in our customers’ homes, learning as we went along!  

I also recommend not listening too much to those around you, especially when you’re starting out. They’ll find all kinds of reasons to suggest that your plan won’t work. They don’t know that! No project is impossible, it all depends on your capacity to generate support and get out there to find the human and financial resources you need.

You graduated with an MSc from EDHEC. How has your education helped you on your path as an entrepreneur?

During the years I spent at EDHEC (it makes me feel old saying that!), the training in entrepreneurship was not as developed as it is today. So I decided to complete my last year on an exchange programme in India. There’s a deep-rooted culture of frugality there; you learn to get up and running with very little. I still remember this class where we had to set up a “business” with 200 rupees (less than three euros) and generate as much revenue as possible in a single week. That’s exactly the mindset that allowed us to build up Murfy and we are trying to pass that on to our staff.

What are your expectations from the community of EDHEC graduates?

Repair rather than replace! If every EDHEC graduate adopted that reflex when faced with a faulty appliance, and tested out our service, we’d be delighted!

Also, for anyone who would like to support our project, we have launched a crowdfunding campaign on LITA. The minimum contribution is €100. Our objective is to reach €500,000 to set up a training school for repair staff. This wonderful profession, working closely with local residents and requiring manual skills, is unfortunately in decline. We’re struggling to recruit even though there is huge demand from customers! We will be offering intensive training to enable participants to get up and running within 3 months and be hired at the end of the course. Murfy hires repair staff on permanent contracts! What’s more, by investing in our business, you will earn money. We pay returns on your investment at an annual interest rate of 5% over 3 years.

 

What’s next for your business?

In 2020, we will continue to expand nationally to offer our services to as many customers as possible. We currently cover just under 10 million households, and in 2020 we aim to increase that to 20 million. We will also be developing our offer of refurbished machines with the option of direct online purchases.

More information: 

Websitehttp://www.murfy.fr/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Murfy.fr/

Instagram & Twitter: @murfybeaucoup

Linkedin: Murfy

 

 

Photos: Marion Motel 

 

 

Career change? Moving house?