Free Eco Weekend | Impact startup
Some don’t hesitate to talk about a revolution in second-hand online business. Whether on the side of sellers or buyers, transactions are exploding. This is particularly the case in the second-hand clothing and accessories sector. Created in 2008, the Vinted platform already has more than 65 million members. Other sectors are affected by the wave. We can mention Too Good To Go, a project that aims to connect people, at the right time and in the right place, to reduce food waste (more than a third of the food produced continues to be thrown away!).
It is in the same spirit that Jeremy Van Mullem, supported by his father, launched Relieve Furniture. In January, this young entrepreneur from Brussels presented his project to us (“solidarity, circular and sustainable”): why, he said, throw or destroy office furniture when they can have a second life with associations, schools, start-ups or companies looking for second-hand furniture? The waste is huge. Each year, around 42 million office items (chairs, desks, shelves, desks, etc.) are thrown away or burned in Europe. Nine out of ten items would go to waste! “Relieve’s mission is to save as many of these items as possible. We position ourselves as the Vinted of office furniture, with the ambition to make Brussels a pioneer capital of reuse“.
Become, first of all, essential in Belgium
After several months of developing and validating its modus operandi, the Brussels-based impact start-up is now ready to take off. Relieve is expected to announce, very soon, a first fundraising with two private investors. It has already secured support from the impact investment fund and cooperative Citizenfund. “The goalexplains Jérémy Van Mullem, is to demonstrate that Relieve can accelerate the project and make it profitable in the Belgian market. We give ourselves 18 months to become a key player in Belgium before we launch in other European countries. (with likely a second fundraiser, Editor’s Note).” In addition, Relieve will launch a new platform in early October, which will make interaction even simpler and more efficient.
Relieve is an online “marketplace” that connects donors (mostly large companies) and beneficiaries (associations, schools, start-ups and SMEs looking to equip themselves with office furniture). “We help companies identify the furniture they no longer need and redistribute it to our network of associations, schools, start-ups and SMEs looking to equip themselves with quality and cheap equipment.“, underlines the CEO. The Relieve network already has more than 5,000 beneficiaries (including 90% of associations and schools).
Jeremy Van Mullem points out two great assets of Relieve. A: The selling price of office furniture placed on the platform is “up to five times cheaper” (new equipment only) and “up to twice cheaper“than a classic second hand site”because we don’t store“ (the assets are recovered by the beneficiaries from the donors). Two: the environmental impact. “When you buy second-hand office equipment, you save 90% CO₂ (We make less new equipment and do not destroy used equipment, Editor’s Note). Delivery locations and times are also considerably reduced. (given proximity of donors, Editor’s note)”.
Today, Relieve prioritized raising awareness of Belgian companies, as office furniture donors, but also as beneficiaries (including the thousands of VSEs and SMEs). “Companies need to change the software when it comes to office furniture and rethink the way they furnish it, insists Jeremy Van Mullem. For the corporate world, it’s an opportunity to make a positive impact by giving your furniture a second life.“.
Since the beginning of the year, Relieve has worked with around thirty large companies (Befimmo, Nestlé, VW, Infrabel, Bruxelles Formation, Ogilvy, etc.), with around 4,000 items sold (chairs, tables and meeting tables are included in the top 3). The start-up is targeting 15,000 articles by 2023.
Since the beginning of September, La Libre Eco weekend innovates by offering three new weekly meetings (published alternately) related to the world of start-ups and entrepreneurship in Belgium. On September 2nd, we opened the section young shot with Laura Warnant, CEO of PolarSun. Every three weeks, we will get to know a new face of the Belgian startup ecosystem. Last week, Thomas Querton, CEO and co-founder of atlasGO, was the first guest at the meeting What have they become?which consists of taking news of a start-up, still active or not, of which we have already free echo Weekend. Finally, this week, location for our third meeting: Impact startup. In a world marked by transitions, this meeting will focus on projects that offer solutions to today’s major challenges (climate, environment, mobility, etc.).