French startup Fleet has been growing nicely over the past four years as the company has deployed nearly 10,000 devices with long-term leasing contracts. The company hasn’t raised any outside funding and is reinvesting as much of its revenue in the company as possible.
Originally, Fleet had a very simple product offering. Companies of all sizes could rent a fleet of MacBooks instead of buying them. Instead of spending a lot of money at once, companies could turn these capital expenditures into predictable operating expenditures.
The Fleet team has designed the company so that it remains as lean as possible. It doesn’t have any warehouse with huge piles of laptops. It doesn’t have a big credit line with a bank.
When a client orders a bunch of laptops, it sends a request to a financial partner based on several criteria so that it can finance those devices. The client signs a contract on Fleet’s website and then the order is processed.
“We are connected to the APIs of seven financial partners in France — they represent pretty much the entire market. We have completely automated the process,” Fleet co-founder and CEO Alexandre Berriche told me.
Fleet’s pricing is transparent. The company displays on its website how much it’s going to cost to order a specific laptop model. “We price our devices in a way that it takes into account the rates because it depends on the risk of the customer, the size of the orders and also the suppliers,” Berriche said.
If a Fleet customer files for bankruptcy, the financial institution is responsible of the credit line. Fleet doesn’t carry any risk in case of a failed payment.
But financial companies are willing to work with Fleet because it’s hard to address that market — and very small companies in particular. A company can order a single laptop on Fleet. It works because it’s automated.
And because many startups are currently trying to increase their runway, companies can also lease back their devices using Fleet to spread out the cost of their existing equipment over time.
Expanding beyond laptops
In addition to Mac and Windows laptops, Fleet has added other things that you can rent on its platform, such as smartphones, tablets, accessories, and even phone booths and furniture.
Some of Fleet’s customers are reaching the end of their laptop leases after three years, which means that they’re eligible for refreshes. That’s why the company now has a proper donation program for unused devices. Fleet partners with nonprofits and can redirect old laptops to teams that could still use these computers. Fleet also accepts laptops that weren’t originally issued through its platform.
The startup now wants to add new features and services. For instance, Fleet has partnered with Evy to offer insurance products. The company also wants to add mobile device management (MDM) features to locate lost devices and remotely lock them.
The idea is that centralizing products like MDM has some value in itself as you don’t need to think about it — you don’t need to compare different services and sign a new contract with yet another company.
“I’m really inspired by this U.S. company called Rippling. We have unbundled SaaS products so much that recreating tools that can handle everything from A to Z on a big segment has some value,” Berriche said. “We’re building the operating system for the workplace.”
Device-as-a-service startup Fleet expands beyond laptop leasing by Romain Dillet originally published on TechCrunch