'The E-Waste Crisis is Real,' Says Back Market Managing Director

Photo Credit: Sakchai Lalit/AP/Shutterstock
March 15, 2019
Updated 1mo ago

By Tracey Cheek

Only a fraction of the 17 million tons of electronic waste from laptops or smartphones was recycled last year. This is the problem that Serge Verdoux is trying to solve at Back Market, an online marketplace that sells refurbished electronics.

"The e-waste crisis is real," said Verdoux, Back Market's managing director. "So the solution that Back Market brings is to extend the lives of these devices by giving them a second life."

The company sells refurbished smartphones, tablets, drones, air purifiers, and more.

"We've created an online business-to-consumer platform that connects hundreds of professional refurbishers that we fully vet for the quality of their refurbishing process, and we make sure that the products they sell on Back Market are in perfectly functioning condition and are, frankly, like new," he said.

Back Market launched four years ago in Europe and has raised about 60 million euros in total funding. The company launched in the U.S. last year where Verdoux said the company has so far seen its fastest rate of growth.

"The value proposition clearly resonates, both with consumers and also with the local refurbishers," he said.

Verdoux said the company's goal is to become a global platform.

"We want to create a brand that resonates with consumers worldwide," said Verdoux. "If you think about other companies that have become household names in other segments, like Airbnb in lodging ... really we want to become that kind of brand."

Back Market said it relies on data to ensure the quality of refurbishment and that products gets to consumers in its best possible condition.

"We are first and foremost a technology company," he said.

"The hundreds of thousands of transactions that go through the platforms, all of them we collect data on the quality of the sellers and we are able to identify very early on in the first few days after we've allowed a refurbisher to sell on the platform whether their quality is good or not."