Entrepreneur of the Week: The Smashroom's Hiba Balfaqih and Ibrahim Abudyak

By allowing customers to destroy computers and laptops, the founders of The Smashroom have created an alternative to a day at the spa
Entrepreneur of the Week: The Smashroom's Hiba Balfaqih and Ibrahim Abudyak
Ibrahim Abudyak and Hiba Balfaqih
By Lubna Hamdan
Sat 09 Mar 2019 01:03 AM

It’s not the most conventional of ideas. But by allowing customers to tap into rage and destroy computers and laptops, the founders of The Smashroom have created an alternative to a day at the spa.

Was The Smash Room inspired by Office Space at all?

Ibrahim Abudyak: Not really, although we can see the resemblance. The SmashRoom was inspired by a difficult time in my best friend Hiba’s life when the traditional, more peaceful mechanisms of coping just weren’t cutting it. One day she took old junk into the backyard and smashed it to bits, and it made her feel better. Right then is when the light bulb switched on in our heads and we brought together this alternative to a day at the spa.

How did you convince friends, family and investors that this was a ‘good’ idea?

IA: This is one of the most difficult steps in the life of a startup. Having a concept that was considered ‘unrealistic’ did not help. We had to turn to the FFF – friends, family and fools – to help get us off the ground. It was their faith in us and the passion they saw in our eyes that got them to write these checks.

How much investment did you need to get this off the ground?

IA: We took the bare minimum to be able to get off the ground and then used the revenues generated from day one to fund the enhancements and improvements we wanted. And still do.

The SmashRoom was inspired by a difficult time in my best friend Hiba’s life when the traditional, more peaceful mechanisms of coping weren’t cutting it

How soon do you think you’ll be profitable?

IA: We already are. It took us just 10 months to break even.

What do customers typically like to destroy? And what are their options?

Hiba Balfaqih: Customers can break glass items, electronics including DVD players, computers, printers, microwaves, laptops, and TVs, as well as their own stuff (or their ex’s). The absolute favorites are TVs; the bigger the screen, the better. And glasses, for sure. They love it when they shatter into pieces.

What happens to the debris after they’re done?

HB: They are recycled. We do our best to play our part in reducing waste in the country. All the electronics that are smashed are non-repairable and non-usable. All you have to do is, release your anger on them and we take care of the recycling bit.

What’s the biggest challenge you encounter daily?

HB: Providing a consistently outstanding experience. Our customers enjoy the vibe and atmosphere in here and we keep that on top of our minds every day.

And the biggest obstacle to growth/profitability?

HB: Sourcing these old electronics and glasses at optimal cost. It is not easy at all considering the size and scale of our operations.

Our purpose is to help people to de-stress and have fun – but be safe while doing so. It is not easy at all, considering the size of our operations

What led you to start this?

HB: Our purpose is to help people to de-stress and have fun – but be safe while doing so. We wanted to create a therapeutic sanctuary where you can be yourself without worrying about being judged or even cleaning up after smashing things.

What drives us daily is seeing how this place helps a lot of people let loose and sweat it out. Watching them tear up after a smash session is priceless.

How much of your business is repeat customers?

IA: About 20 percent at the moment. But we are working to increase that. We’ve seen many customers who come down multiple times in a few months, with a different reason each visit.

What is something most people wouldn’t know about the founders?

IA: Not many know that we are fire-walkers. It’s how we became friends before we started The Smash Room. We were at one of Tony Robbins’ programs in London, where participants walk on burning coal with bare feet before graduating from the program.

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