A Sit-Down with David Lundgren: “I anticipate that the majority of smartphones sold in the Nordics by 2030 will be pre-owned”

In today’s rapidly evolving tech landscape, sustainability and circularity are becoming increasingly important considerations for consumers and businesses alike. One company at the forefront of this movement is Refurbly, a pioneering venture that blends telecom services with refurbished phones to provide innovative solutions for mobile ownership. Founded in 2019, Refurbly has experienced remarkable growth, leveraging a unique approach to device rental and a commitment to quality and sustainability. In this exclusive interview, we sit down with the founder of Refurbly, David Lundgren to discuss the company’s journey, its impact on the mobile industry and the future of refurbished smartphones in the Nordics and beyond.

What inspired you to launch Refurbly in 2019? How has the company grown and evolved since then?

Refurbly was founded on my experience in phone repair, identifying a niche in merging telecom services with refurbished phones. Starting with just one technician and myself, the company has grown to a team of 12 and revenues of about 4.2 million euros. Key achievements include securing investment from telecom figures like Johan Dennelind, former CEO of Telia Company, and launching our Device-as-a-Service program, Refurbly Flex.

How does Refurbly provide circular and sustainable solutions for mobile ownership? What are the benefits of these solutions for customers and the environment?

Refurbly is at the forefront of promoting circular and sustainable solutions in mobile ownership. Our model, Refurbly Flex, revolutionizes the way consumers own their device. Traditionally, device ownership involved partial payments without a clear plan for the device’s end-of-life. Refurbly Flex fills this gap by including insurance and assuring each device is cared for and given a second life after its initial use. This approach reduces costs for consumers, minimizes risk, and offers peace of mind. It’s a significant stride towards a consumer-based rental business in the telecom market, addressing both end-user demand and broader industry needs.

How does Refurbly conduct diagnostics and testing on smartphones before selling them?

At Refurbly, our commitment to quality is unwavering. We conduct thorough diagnostics and testing on every smartphone using ADISA certified software. We ensure that each device meets our high standards of functionality and reliability. Moreover, we exclusively use original parts in our refurbishment process.

What is the approximate annual sales volume of smartphones for Refurbly?

About 4.2 million euros in 2023.

How likely is it that Refurbly will collaborate with Telecom Operators? What are its prospects for the near future?

We are currently partnering with multiple MVNOs to provide our device rental program, Refurbly Flex, as a value-added service (VAS) to their existing customers. This rental model helps reduce churn compared to a traditional device sales model with a payment plan. Typically, once the device is paid off, customers may switch providers. With Refurbly Flex, customers can continuously upgrade to the latest devices by trading in their old ones, maintaining their subscription with their MVNO.

How do regulatory and policy frameworks hinder the growth of Refurbished smartphones?

In Sweden, we face two significant challenges. Firstly, the VAT on used phones stands at 25%, which is astonishingly high. Why do we impose double taxation on pre-owned items? Secondly, there’s an unusual levy known as the “Chemical Tax” designed to reduce e-waste, yet it’s applied even to purchases of second-hand electronics. Therefore, I believe that not only the EU broadly, but particularly Sweden, needs to improve substantially.

What is your outlook for the secondary market in general/nordics over the next 5 years?

The prospects are encouraging. As consumer awareness of sustainability grows and the economic advantages of refurbished devices become more recognized, I anticipate that the majority of smartphones sold in the Nordics by 2030 will be pre-owned. Do you think the iPhone 20 will have people queuing up – what’s your take?

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