Dubai startup taps into rage and destruction to turn a tidy profit

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Thu 7 Mar 2019 06:26 AM

Dubai startup taps into rage and destruction to turn a tidy profit

Founders of The Smashroom say it took just 10 months for their 'alternative to a spa' to breakeven

It took a lot of convincing before “friends, family and fools” agreed to invest in their business, but the founders of a Dubai-based startup have found customers very willing to pay to “de-stress” by destroying office equipment, home appliances and personal belongings.

In an interview with Arabian Business, The Smashroom co-founder Ibrahim Abufadyak said the startup kicked off with roughly AED750,000 ($200k) in seed money in March last year.

“And we’re already profitable,” he said. “It took just ten months to break even.”

Housed in Al Quoz, the business charges customers between AED 99 and AED 500 to grab a hammer, axe, baseball club or cricket bat and smash a range of items including computer screens, laptops, printers, TVs, microwaves, prescription eyeglasses and a range of other items.

The idea was borne out of a period in co-founder Hiba BilFaqih’s life when she lost two of her closest family members and was diagnosed with a chronic disease.

“The traditional, more peaceful mechanisms of coping just weren't cutting it. So she took old junk into the backyard and smashed it to bits. And it made her feel better,” said Abufadyak.

“That’s when the light bulb switched on in our heads.”

However, it took a while before the pair were able to get started. Nearly everyone they spoke with thought their plan was “unrealistic” and the business kicked off “with the bare minimum,” said Abudyak.

Alternative to spa

At the price points it offers, Abudyak said the business is positioned to compare favourably as “an alternative to a day at the spa.”

“Our purpose is to help people de-stress, have fun and be safe while doing so. It’s a therapeutic sanctuary for everyone where you can be yourself without worrying about being judged or even cleaning up after you smash things,” said Balfaqih.

“Watching people tear up after a smash session is priceless,” she added.

Today, nearly 20% of the business is accounted for by repeat customers.

“Many of whom come down multiple times in a few months,” he said. And growing that number will be key to the business’ future viability.

“We make sure to provide a consistently outstanding experience to our customers. From day one, we’ve used the revenues generated to fund the enhancements and improvements we wanted,” added Abudyak. “And that’s what we still do.”