Do you want to invest in an entrepreneurial project associated with the world of sports? In a surf areain full growth? Akewatu is a market sale of new or second-hand products, which opens its capital to the general public. Meeting with its founder and manager, Julien Martel, who explains why he invites as many people as possible to join them in this ambitious project, with international positioning, between Europe and Australia. And soon the United States…
What is Akewatu and who is it for?
Julian Martell: It is a market that allows individuals or professionals to sell their products online. It is a platform that allows you to find everything in one place.
How was the project born?
Julian Martell: The story begins 7 years ago, I was in Paris and I had a hard time finding a good team, or vice versa, selling mine. In addition, on the occasion, as it was a technical product, no one could certify the quality. One day traveling to the Atlantic coast, I meet Nico (Nicolas Drouet, editor’s note), who has owned a surf shop for more than ten years. I ask him why he doesn’t sell online, he replies that he tried, but he can’t handle the logistics and inventory management between his physical store and his website. He made us think of Amazon, with the booksellers. Before there were many, which no longer exist, because Amazon has been able to satisfy the needs of buyers, who were going to find everything in one place. And that kills small businesses. With Nico we told ourselves that it was a real problem, and to solve it we developed this market place, where people will be able to find everything, necessarily behind, an individual or a professional, to sell. That’s why we come to support the local economy.
Are you the founders of the project?
Julian Martell: Us and Henrique (Henrique Fernandes, editor’s note), who is behind the Vestiaire Collective brand. The three of us together created Akewatu, based on this principle of helping people find everything in one place with great service, while also promoting shapers and surf shops. The third pillar of the project is the defense of the environment, because we are a population that spends a lot of time in the water, and for this we have launched several actions. For example, we were the first to insure all of our shipments with 100% recycled and recyclable boxes, and no plastic. We also donate 5% of our turnover to Surf Rider (NGO that works to protect the environment, editor’s note), in Australia and Europe.
Who are the current shareholders?
Julian Martell: Initially, we are three. Then, we did successive fundraisers. The first with business angels, with the INSEAD network of schools. The next, eighteen months ago, thanks to the entry of an investment fund. At that time, we already had the goal of opening the capital to the community, bringing people with us. That’s when we brought in Johanne Defay, currently number 3 professional surfer in the world, to test the idea, to see if it made sense for her as a surfer to join us and for us as entrepreneurs to open up our shareholding. Over time everyone is happy and the box grows, defending the values labeled together. As for us, we are taking advantage of Johanne’s “feedback” to build the platform well. That’s why we decided to bring the community, for our development in Europe and eventually in the United States, telling ourselves that if we needed funds for international expansion, we could also do it with people from the community.
How much is the company worth?
Julian Martell: The valuation has gone from one to 12 million euros in five years. We hope it continues to grow, and the box, and its valuation.
Why launch this new fundraiser now?
Julian Martell: Because the test with Johanne went well.
What interest does the community have in accompanying them in the project?
Julian Martell: As I said, this is a unique opportunity to invest in a high growth project and expect a return on investment. It is also the opportunity to collaborate with a brand that defends values, and become one of its ambassadors.
What rights will these new shareholders have?
Julian Martell: They will be traditional shareholders, they will participate in the decisions, they will be kept informed of the evolution of the company. And they will also have the opportunity to crowd cubewho selected us (a platform that allows people to invest in startups, editor’s note), so they can have access to a virtual online stock market, where they can eventually resell or buy new shares.
How much is the cost of the action? Have you decided on a maximum threshold?
We have set it at 1.98 euros, so that it is accessible to everyone. With a minimum investment of 10 euros and up to 50,000 euros, in Crowdcube. Beyond that, people have to contact us directly. We have given ourselves up to 650,000 euros to raise, at the moment for me to speak, 90% of the sum has already been reached.