Alexandre Beriche answers our questions about the fleet’s debut to date. The company, which is experiencing rapid expansion, has been able to tide over the health crisis without raising funds.
What was your journey till the creation of the fleet?
To keep it brief, I started out in finance in private equity. Operational attracted me quickly, so I joined Rocket Internet, a German incubator known especially for its involvement in the success of marketplaces and e-commerce in emerging countries, a model “copy cat”. by following. I stayed with them for two years to build their operations in Africa, specifically with Jumia, which is the African Amazon and a leader in e-commerce in Africa. It was the first African unicorn. At home, I was the head of operations for North Africa, general manager for Tunisia. After this adventure, I joined IronHack, an edtech in Code, Design, Data or Cyber Security. I was director of operations and international expansion there for two years. I managed the company on a day-to-day basis, which allowed me to develop essential entrepreneurial skills. Finally, I launched Fleet three years ago.
How did you meet your co-founder?
I met him in Jumia, Morocco. Working together has brought us closer and we have become very good friends. We know our professional qualities are complementary and we trust each other. These two elements have allowed us to lay a solid foundation in our relationship as co-founders and partners.
How did you come up with the idea for the fleet?
I was already in the intellectual process of discovering an idea that appealed to me. I had a few criteria in mind because I wanted to do BTOB and be kind of a start-up client in a large market. I liked this notion of choosing a vertical, like Alan did for health insurance. I think this approach allowed me to structure my thinking. For the record, one day I broke my work computer and it was really hard. I found myself buying one on Fnac in a hurry at 11:00 a.m. without knowing which model to buy and whether or not to insure it. I behaved like a person. However, I worked in a company of 150 people, which made 20 million in turnover. I didn’t get the idea right away. After this incident I said to myself: “It’s crazy, every time I recruit people into the box, I buy myself computers at the last minute, it’s really chaotic! », A few weeks later, my boss at the time, IronHack’s boss, asked me to lease the whole of Europe. They found that it was unprofitable for us to buy all the computers and pay cash for them. That’s when I had a click and the idea was really born, to create a digital monthly subscription service that allows a start-up or SME to buy a computer or manage it in a qualitative way, with a guarantee. Forum.
What were the major challenges in the beginning and what were the main phases of the company?
Our first big challenge was a decision first: not to raise funds. Not raising money requires absolute rigor, determination and unmistakable ambition. We have tried to be consistent and steady in our work to embrace this decision. I think this option has worked for us in 2021, we have achieved six times the 2020 figure. We have exceeded one million per month in November 2021. So we’ve grown well for a company that’s about three years old, but which remains relatively young with small numbers.
After the launch in April 2019, of course, COVID arrived. Like many companies, the first imprisonment affected us greatly. Even though we had just recruited our first two employees, freezing recruitment has left us very vulnerable, facing a huge drop in fleet orders without raising funds. This period of uncertainty scared us but we were able to turn the corner and restart recruitment by focusing on order growth.
Did you manage to sell quickly?
Yes obviously our first sale was made from the official launch and it was quite comfortable. At the launch of Fleet, we were lucky as we had a lot of sales right now. In fact, I think we understood our market well, positioned our proposition well and we’ve got what’s called product-market fit. After our hardships related to COVID, we grew a lot and then I was able to see that the growth is not linear at all. Unfortunately, drawing a straight line is not enough for sales to be consistent. When you grow up, you have to be prepared to go through strong moments, but also weak moments of stagnation. You have to know how to keep yourself cool to face all this.
What were the next steps?
We have finally come out of COVID and we have been able to focus on topics that have been critical to our growth: our technology and our design that position us in the Startup and SME verticals, recruitment for strategic positions ( Developers, Data Analysts, Designers). Laying these solid foundations allowed us to accelerate the business and marketing momentum later.
What are your future challenges going to be? Your biggest challenges?
Our major challenges ahead? There are many of them. We want to attract and grow fast. We want to expand our customer base. Today, we have many clients who are start-ups or scale-ups. We are starting to attract SMEs and we want to serve more of them!
From a product standpoint, we’ve launched PCs and we want them to contribute more to our turnover, which is now more driven by our landmark products: MacBooks.
In terms of international expansion, we are launching Fleet in Spain. It represents a major step forward in our development.
We also deal with R&D issues. Our product is differentiated and advanced in procurement process, fleet management, etc. However, we want to continue to invest in this to further deepen our differentiation and our edge.
Finally, there are day-to-day challenges such as knowing how to combine performance and long-term results at the same time, as is the case for all companies.
Competitive advantage in technology is first of all, if I understand correctly?
Yes, there is much more in technology and on many levels. Firstly, our onboarding is very simple as it allows you to get a computer in three clicks. This is a big difference with our competitors who are more traditional players for whom it takes two weeks to submit a contract. In our case, it is almost instantaneous and it gives a “wow” feeling to our customers.
Our platform also allows you to manage your fleet and renew it. This creates value for our customers and allows them to become more professional in some respects. It is quite rare to offer a financed product with a guarantee behind it. This allows companies to have a “one-stop shop” in quotes. They come to us and get the product, its financing, its warranty and its management platform. Lastly, technology also exists internally with technical tools that allow us to manage multiple flows but very efficiently, and to respond very quickly to the customer.
Is there anything that has surprised you since you created your structure?
Before leading Fleet, I had leadership roles at another start-up, and at a very young age, I had leadership roles. At Jumia I was the Country Director and at IronHack I was the COO Director, Group Operations Director. However, I see a real difference between occupying a management position and managing the company I’ve built: there’s more responsibilities and a little more pressure. Indeed, paying employees every month and ensuring that growth is sustainable over the long term are factors that increase leader pressure but at the same time provide immense satisfaction.
“Our platform also allows you to manage your fleet and renew it. This creates value for our customers and allows them to become more professional in some respects. Offering a financed product with a guarantee behind it This is quite rare to do. It allows companies to have a “one-stop shop”. »
3 Tips from Alexandre Bereche
- to be ambitious Try to project an idea in the medium term and aim high. I think ambition is key when you are an entrepreneur.
- Have resources and are constantly looking for solutions. Relentlessly, you always need to know how to bounce back, find solutions, be “resourceful”, as we say in English. Being rich in resources and solutions is a great quality. In entrepreneurship, we are always faced with situations we are not prepared for, for which we must have common sense and bounce back.
- Knowing how to build a network of other entrepreneurs, try to surround yourself with entrepreneurs who are models for us, with more experience and who can help us by sharing their learnings. This is one reason why I enjoy being a Business Angel: “I went through this situation and this was the solution that worked in my case”,