French startup Fleet has been growing very well for the last four years, as the company has deployed nearly 10,000 devices on long-term leases. The company has not raised external funds and is reinvesting as much of its income as possible in the company.
Originally, Fleet had a very simple product offering. Businesses of all sizes could rent a fleet of MacBooks instead of buying them. Instead of spending a lot of money all at once, companies could turn these capital expenditures into predictable operating expenses.
The Fleet team has designed the business to remain as efficient as possible. You don’t have any warehouses with huge stacks of laptops. You don’t have a large line of credit with a bank.
When a customer orders a bunch of laptops, they send a request to a financing partner based on various criteria so they can finance those devices. The customer signs a contract on the Fleet website and the order is then processed.
“We are connected to the APIs of seven financial partners in France; They represent practically the entire market. We have fully automated the process,” Fleet co-founder and CEO Alexandre Berriche told me.
The price of the fleet is transparent. The company shows on its website how much it will cost to order a specific laptop model. “We price our devices in a way that takes into account fees because it depends on the risk of the customer, the size of the orders and also the providers,” Berriche said.
If a Fleet customer files for bankruptcy, the financial institution is responsible for the line of credit. Fleet has no risk in case of a failed payment.
But finance companies are willing to work with Fleet because it’s hard to address that market, and very small businesses in particular. A company can order a single laptop in Fleet. It works because it is automated.
And because many startups are currently trying to grow their track, businesses can also lease their devices using Fleet to spread the cost of their existing equipment over time.
Expansion beyond laptops
In addition to Mac and Windows laptops, Fleet has added other things you can rent on its platform, such as smartphones, tablets, accessories, and even phone booths and furniture.
Some of Fleet’s customers are coming to the end of their laptop leases after three years, which means they are eligible for upgrades. That’s why the company now has a suitable donation program for unused devices. Fleet partners with non-profit organizations and can redirect old laptops to teams that could still use these computers. Fleet also accepts laptops that were not originally issued through their platform.
The startup now wants to add new features and services. For example, 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 lock them remotely.
The idea is that centralizing products like MDM has some value in itself, since you don’t need to think about it: you don’t need to compare different services and sign a new contract with another company.
“I am really inspired by this American company called Rippling. We have disaggregated SaaS products so much that there is some value in recreating tools that can handle everything from A to Z in a large segment,” Berriche said. “We are building the operating system for the workplace.”