Wetri – the app that rewards recycling
Committed to CSR, the stakeholders of the IÉSEG ecosystem implement many innovative projects to meet the challenges of sustainable development today. This is the case of Arnaud LOUISET, an IÉSEG graduate and co-founder of the Wetri platform, an application that aims to introduce the circular economy into consumers’ lives, and who won the IÉSEG 2023 Entrepreneur Prize. Let’s meet Arnaud.
Can you introduce Wetri ?
Wetri is the app that rewards consumers’ recycling actions everywhere in France. I co-founded the company in July 2022 with my brother Guillaume after being an employee in other companies for a few years. Guillaume is in charge of the financial and technology parts, while I am responsible for business and marketing. The distribution of the roles was natural as it matched our respective interests. Thanks to our past professional experiences, we acquired skills and a strong background that allowed us to launch confidently our company.
Why did you decide to launch Wetri?
First of all, we realized that it is really difficult for consumers to find their way around eco-responsible actions, and in particular selective sorting and recycling of products. We came to the conclusion that there was a need for simplifying the process for the consumer in order to encourage them to engage fully in this system of recycling and circular economy.
To achieve this goal, we wanted to create a universal system available in the whole country and accessible to the general public in order to get all French people involved in the same initiative. We thus developed what we thought was the most logical: a free app for all product types. The aim of the application is to guide the consumer in their recycling actions.
The idea is simple: when the consumer wonders how to recycle a product, they can go on the app and find all the necessary information that to recycle this particular product. We have chosen a fun and rewarding approach. For each type of waste, we indicate the nearby collection points, which are often stores where the person can come with the product to be recycled. Then, they just have to provide a proof (photo, receipt…) on the application to obtain in-store rewards such as discount vouchers, purchase vouchers, or even points on the Wetri app.
On the application, the consumer has a pool allowing him/her to collect points as he makes eco-citizen gestures. Once a minimum number of points have been collected, they can transform their points in 3 different ways: a wire transfer to boost their purchasing power, purchasing vouchers for shops that are part of the circular economy, or a donation to the Good Planet association, founded by Yann ARTHUS BERTRAND.
How does your business model work?
Nous avons d’un côté les commerçants, qui jouent le rôle de « collecteurs », du fait de la proximité de leur réseau de magasins avec le consommateur. A travers ce système de dépôt, on leur génère de l’activité et du trafic client en magasin, tout en défendant le commerce local physique. En bout de chaîne, nous avons les transformateurs de déchets / produits usagers, à qui nous permettons d’avoir accès aux millions de micro-gisements des Français qui sont déjà massifiés et qualifiés en magasin. Ce qui permet un transit efficace de ces matières, économiquement et écologiquement parlant.
On the one hand, we have the retailers, which play the role of “collectors”, thanks to their network of shops in proximity to the consumers. Through this deposit system, we generate traffic and operations in their stores, while helping the physical and local business. Then, we have the processors of waste and used products, to whom we give access to the millions of French micro deposits that are already collected and qualified in stores. This allows for an efficient transit of these materials, economically and ecologically speaking.
What is the typical profile of a Wetri user?
We don’t just attract people who are ecologically aware, but also people who are looking for good deals and who want to save money. By reaching this audience, we can change consumer habits towards a more sustainable model by raising awareness, while rewarding them.
What are your main challenges as an entrepreneur?
I would say that the first major challenge is to succeed in managing the diverse tasks, especially at the beginning of the adventure: you have to deal with marketing, sales, communication, finance, and technological development. The second challenge is linked to the limited resources of a start-up. You have to know how to do the most with the least, by optimizing resources, whether financial, human, or time-related.
What connection do you perceive between your studies and your role as an entrepreneur?
My brother and I both went to business schools. Personally, I took the entrepreneurship course at IÉSEG, a program that is both very comprehensive and generalist, which allowed me to touch on everything and to have a foundation in each of the areas I have to manage today as an entrepreneur.
On the other hand, I’m always in touch with IÉSEG because Wetri is part of the Incubator, which gives us guidance and direction in some areas and provides us with a network.
How do you see the future of Wetri?
Our plan is to duplicate our model abroad once we have become the reference in France. The goal is to attract several hundred thousand users in 2023, then several million in 2024 in France, with the idea of exporting the model to Europe from 2024-2025. This year, we are going to expand the team with a dozen new recruits.
Our ambition is to grow Wetri as quickly as possible to multiply the company’s impact. This will involve one of the first stages of financing at the beginning of 2023, which will allow us to recruit and accelerate the acquisition of users and customers. We are in the process of activating non-dilutive financing avenues with public and private entities in the first instance. Later on, we will look at dilutive financing to bring in certain shareholders who can help us from a strategic point of view and in developing the company’s network.
What motivates you the most in the Wetri adventure?
The fact of being responsible for the success (or not) of the project we are leading. Of course, this brings a certain amount of pressure, but it also brings great satisfaction in terms of what you achieve. There is also a certain pride in knowing that we have a positive impact both for the environment by promoting the circular economy, and for society by boosting consumer purchasing power. On the other hand, our business model participates in the development of national business activity and French industry.
What is your greatest pride so far with this project?
The signature of our first contract with a national customer, Electro Dépôt, on the large household appliances part. This allows consumers to return their large appliances to the 90 points of sale of the brand in France in exchange for Wetri points.
We are also proud of Wetri’s user traction, which already counts several hundred drop-offs throughout France every week. This confirms that we have created a service that brings added value.
Any advice for an entrepreneur who is just starting out?
From my point of view, there is no right time to launch, you have to feel that it is the right time. Some entrepreneurs start directly after their studies, which is very brave. Some people need more experience before taking the plunge. You have to seize opportunities and try to surround yourself with the right people. The whole ecosystem that you can create around your project will help it grow and consolidate.