Refurbed setting goals and recycling start-up learnings

Austrian born Peter Windischhofer had a consumer frustration. he needed to buy a phone, but he wanted to buy a decent second-hand phone which suited his budget. He bought a second-hand phone, but it broke three months later and there was no warranty on the phone bringing him right back to the position he was in three months previously. How frustrating!

Together with co-founders Kilian Kaminski and Jürgen Riedl, Windischhofer founded Refurbed in Vienna in 2017. It’s a marketplace for refurbished phones, tablets and laptops, which solves the issues associated with buying refurbished equipment and to encourages more sustainable technology practices.

This is not the first start-up Windischhofer has been involved in, he previously founded, a marketplace for Chinese language schools. Windischhofer clearly has a love of a good marketplace platform.

Everything he learned from his first start-up he has brought to benefit Refurbed.

“In general, the idea was interesting, but I didn’t manage to build a strong team around it,” Windischhofer says of his experience with, “I didn’t manage to get it off the ground.”

“The main thing I learned was you really need to be personally committed to the problem and really want to solve it rather than just founding a random company,” he says. “And I wasn’t back then, I didn’t really care about the problem, I just thought it would be a good business opportunity.”

Founders LR Jürgen Riedl, Kilian Kaminski, Peter Windischhofer

“I decided if I’m ever going to do this again, I really want to care about the problem, and I care a lot about the environment and that was the starting point of Refurbed. The second thing I knew was that I needed a strong team to work with me on that topic and with my co-founders in Refurbed, I knew it had a very realistic chance of being very successful,” he says.

And successful is exactly what Refurbed have become. They have grown their team of three founders to a team of over 100. Refurbed is currently active in Austria, Germany, Poland, Italy, and Ireland and raised €15.6 million in a Series A funding round in 2020.

“We also had this common vision of building a really big company that goes across Europe and we formulated the goal that we want to sell one million products within the first five years, which we will now achieve after four and a half years,” he explains.

“People laughed at us and said how could we be so arrogant with our goal, but we did it and now we have updated our vision, we want to bring one refurbished product into every European household by 2030,” he adds.

The products for sale on the Refurbed marketplace come with a minimum 12-month warranty and one refurbishment to a device creates 70% less CO2 than the creation of a new electronic device.

For every product sold, Refurbed plants a tree to offset carbon emissions created during the refurbishing process. The trees are planted in countries such as Haiti, Madagascar, Kenya, Indonesia and Mozambique or Nepal through their partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects.

Fiona Alston is a freelance journalist based in Ireland covering tech, innovation, start-ups and interesting SMEs. Alston is also passionate about athletics, health and horses having competed in triathlons, equestrian events and horse racing, and her lived experience comes through when covering sports personalities or fitness features. Growing up on the family farm in Scotland, Alston graduated from the University of Sunderland with a BA (Hon.) in Broadcast Journalism, and is frequently published in The Irish Times, The Business Post, RTÉ and 4i Mag.