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Skype founder joins a Viennese startup company

Niklas Zennström, founder of Skype, is investing more than two million euros with five other investors in Refurbed. Millions investor is Inventure Partners. The heavyweight based in the Cayman Islands is invested among others in the Uber competitor GETT. Four Austrian investors increase their shares.

Barely two years after its founding, the Vienna-based tech start-up Refurbed receives a hefty cash injection of over two million euros. Two renowned top investors are entering the market. With Inventure Partner and Atomico from Skype founder Niklas Zennström, the Viennese online retailer on the hook of two very large venture capital companies.

With good growth, the blessing could be even richer in the next two years than the refurbed co-founder Peter Windischhofer confirmed the trend. Refurbed is an online trading platform that trades new, retreaded smartphones, tablet PCs, laptops and other electronic products. Refurbed currently offers its services in Austria, Germany, Poland and Italy. The company has gained around 30,000 customers since the start of the company.

The venture capital firm Inventure Partners of Sergey Azatyan alone invests around 1.4 million euros. As a result, Azatyan will acquire 16.1% of the Refurbed shares through its investment vehicle Space Investment Limited, with its tax haven, Cayman Island. Inventure Partners invests in over 40 start-ups, including Uber rival GETT and Chronext, the largest watch retailer.

The billion-dollar venture capital fund Atomico of Skype founder Niklas Zennström from Sweden invests almost modest-seeming around 100,000 euros. Zennström’s Atomico, with its daughter Hamble Angel Program I, based in the US, now owns 0.36 percent of Refurbed.

The four Austrian shareholders Klaus Hofbauer (HOKL Ventures GmbH), Speedinvest, Startup300 and Johannes Cech (JCCI), who have already invested, are also following suit. In the current financing round, they will contribute a total volume of around € 600,000 (see new shares, chart below).

Austria and the smallness

“Investments by Inventure and Atomico are a godsend for us,” says Refurbed CEO Windischhofer. Zennström’s Atomico is one of the top investors in the start-up scene with a good 100 participations in start-ups. “We are actually too small for a typical investment for Atomico,” says Windischhofer. “Atomico’s investments typically have much higher dimensions, but after all, people believe in us and our business model.”

Atomico has already signaled strong growth in growth at one of the next rounds of financing. “It is important that we continue to grow well and that the losses remain at a relatively normal level.” Currently, Refurbed still writes losses. “We want to reach break even in the next two to five years,” says Windischhofer.

Already in October 2017, the company was successful in a first round of financing. In the start-up show “2 minutes 2 million” of the Austrian TV channel Puls4, the company succeeded for the first time. At that time, Michael Altrichter had come in with 500,000 euros. Another 600,000 euros could have gotten the company.

Not in cash though. Daniel Zech of Seven Ventures wanted to spend a media volume for advertising, in return for 12 percent of the shares. But the refurbed men refused. “We needed the money for growth, TV advertising was not an issue for us in 2017,” says the start-up entrepreneur.

The founders Peter Windischhofer and Kilian Kaminski (both 23.5 percent) and Jürgen Riedl (17.84) currently hold around 64.9 percent of the shares.

Last year, the number of employees was increased from three to 30. Sales were also increased tenfold. The Refurbed boss did not want to say how much sales the company achieved in 2018.

“For the year 2019, we have planned a mid single-digit million sales,” says Windischhofer. The company currently maintains its trading platform in Austria, Germany, Poland and Italy. By the end of the year, another ten employees will be employed.

Refurbed acts as an intermediary of the so-called “refurbished” devices between the dealer and the end customer. “We’re checking to see if the dealers meet the high quality, safety and warranty requirements, and about 50 dealers can now sell their products through Refurbed’s trading platform, which plans to bring some 100 dealers to its platform by the end of 2019 Growth of consumers, but also the interest of the traders is very large.

An idea in the lap The idea. The business idea had Peter Windischhofer once fallen out of trouble in the lap. He had bought an iPhone on a used-goods portal. A few weeks later, the device had given up its ghost. Warranty and warranty had passed. Kilian Kaminski had already become acquainted with the refurbished business at Amazon. And software expert Riedl has brought the technological experience from several start-ups.

Thus, from an idea of the three founders in 2017, a business model was poured: a platform for renewed and high-quality products, with uniform, high standards for quality, safety and guarantee. Consumers should be able to buy sustainable equipment with such ease and without risk. The background. Windischhofer, a native of Upper Austria, was with the consulting firm McKinsey for about three years before starting his entrepreneurial career.

Prior to that, the Upper Austrian business administration studied in Vienna, Shanghai and San Francisco. Kilian Kaminski is from Hamburg and also studied business administration. After studying in Hamburg, Shanghai and London, he hired at Amazon Germany, where he had come to know the refurbished business from the outset with all its pitfalls. Windischhofer and Kaminski had met in Shanghai during their studies.

And in Vienna, the circle has closed. The technical control center of the company is chief engineer Jürgen Riedl. After studying at the Vienna University of Technology, the chief software engineer from Lower Austria had already gained several years of experience in start-up companies until he became an entrepreneur himself.

“The devices are like new, they are not worn or used devices in the classical sense”, stresses Windischhofer the quality traded products. The term “second-hand”, “used equipment” or “retouching devices” hears the Refurbed man does not like, even for the association’s sake. In order to clarify ambiguities also quickly, the start-up has set up its own free hotline for questions from consumers. “The customer speaks to us with people, not bots, and that’s important to us,” says the young entrepreneur.

The company, which is based in the 6th district of Vienna, currently employs around 30 people. By the end of the year, it will increase to 40 employees. Meanwhile, the four portals are controlled and serviced from Vienna.

The start-up was ranked among the top 3 most sustainable tech startups in Europe at the 2018 Green Alley Award. At the so-called Slush-Festival 2018, the largest startup festival in the world, it took the 2nd place in the category Climate Impact Battle 2018.

Refurbed is one of the fastest growing internet platforms in German-speaking countries. With the financial injection, the company wants to continue to grow. For this year, however, the focus is still on the already processed markets of Austria, Germany, Poland and Italy. The company already has 30,000 customers. “We want to expand to Denmark and Sweden,” says Windischhofer. Sweden? Oh yes – there was still one


Also published on Medium.

Published inStartupsTechnology

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