Interview with REFURBED, Green Alley Award Finalist 2018
With more than 50 million tonnes every year, electronic waste is the fastest growing waste category worldwide. The Austrian startup refurbed wants to change this: The three founders Peter Windischhofer, Kilian Kaminski, and Jürgen Riedl work together with selected merchants to offer a wide range of high quality refurbished products from smartphones, to tablets, monitors and other appliances. With their independent marketplace, refurbed also entered the finals of the Green Alley Award 2018, Europe’s first startup prize for the circular economy. Buying used electronics via refurbed not only means cost savings and minimal risk with a one-year warranty but also reduction of electronic waste and of CO² emissions during the manufacturing process of new products. Read in our interview with CEO and founder Kilian Kaminski, how their professional background in the refurbishing business motivated them to galvanize the whole industry.
# You operate a marketplace for refurbished electronic products. What is your USP compared to competitor platforms like Rebuy? How can you hold up in such a crowded market?
Other refurbished shops like rebuy only sell their own products and refurbish them themselves. Through our marketplace business model, we can offer the customer a wide selection at the best price by combining the best offers of individual merchants (i.e. AsGoodAsNew or other refurbishers). This means that customers find better prices and wider selection at refurbed than at rebuy.
# You have an experienced team that knows how the refurbishing business and big marketplaces work. How did your former jobs motivate you to create such a platform?
The experience our core team gathered while working for global players had of course an enormous impact on our decision to launch a company in this specific business area. We have the great advantage to combine a background in the three most important areas for our refurbed business model. Peter has worked for some of the biggest marketplaces and platforms as a digital consultant and helped them to improve their marketing, conversation rate and search engine optimization, which makes him the perfect fit to supervise our company´s marketing and strategy. Jürgen has already worked in several startups as CTO and is an expert in frontend as well as backend development and optimization, this is why he is the perfect person for all our IT development activities. Last but not least, I have a lot of expertise in refurbished products as well as seller management and sales and therefore lead these departments in our company. As you can see in our core founder team, we combine supply, technical expertise and demand, so the most important factors for a succeeding marketplace model.
# Why can you offer lower prizes for high-cost electronic products than your competitors?
To answer the question, it is important to understand the refurbished industry. There are two kinds of merchants we are working with:
Firstly, we work with refurbishers who literally refurbish all products inhouse. These refurbishers normally buy used products from large companies (i.e. Deutsche Bahn or Volkswagen), e.g. they get 10.000 smartphones in a box, sort them and then refurbish them before selling them to end customers via our www.refurbed.de marketplace. The large quantity gives them a lot of economies of scale.
Secondly, we work with refurbish resellers. They buy already refurbished products from global operating B2B refurbishers, checking them at arrival and then resell them to end customers via i.e. our www.refurbed.de marketplace.
Most of our merchants are extremely specialised. For example, they only offer a specific brand like Samsung and then only the “Galaxy” models. Through this specification they are able to reduce the refurbishment time, have an especially high quality as well as have much better purchasing prices for the spare parts then merchants with a wide product selection.
Our advantage as a marketplace compared to our competitors is that we combine the offers of exact these specialised merchants to always have a wide product selection and the best price at the same time!
# What are your plans for the future? Are you going international?
We are extremely glad to have a good running business and high customer satisfaction in our core markets Austria and Germany. The next step for us will be to expand in the first non-German speaking countries, especially in East- and South-Europe, where we see a high potential for our products.
Furthermore, we are constantly working on new tools, which will increase the customer experience and services, which our customers would like to have. As an example, we realised that a lot of customers would be interested in a product insurance. Our list of ideas is nearly endless and we always try to analyse, which improvements will help our customers most and to focus on these first!
# In one sentence: What does circular economy mean to you?
The circular economy is one of the most important, but sadly most underrated topics in today’s society! With refurbed we want to increase the awareness of refurbished products as an important part of the circular economy!
Find the interviews with the other finalists of the Green Alley Award 2018 here: