Come on, buy me
They are this year's Ecodesign award winners in the Service …
After winning the award of the Kultur- und Kreativpilot*innen the two founders of Faircado look optimistic into the future. Their platform, a browser extension for second-hand products, steps into a booming market. We talked with Evoléna de Wilde d’Estmael about her vision of a second-hand revolution.
CCB Magazine:Hello Evoléna, you founded Faircado together with Ali Nezamolmaleki in July 2021. How did you come up with this idea?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:I have always bought second-hand stuff. In Brussels, where I grew up, I used to go to flea markets with my godmother who has also a passion for that. We just loved this kind of treasure hunting. Then, in 2020, I moved to an unfurnished flat in Berlin and needed to get some furniture and other things. But I spent so much time finding those things! I searched on different platforms; it was frustrating how long it took. After that experience I told Ali about it, who was already working with me in another, but not our own startup, and, you know, he is a tech genius, he has about one thousand ideas per second. He knew exactly what the solution looked like, and it sounded so cool that we decided to do it. That’s how it started.
CCB Magazine: Before we go into details, I would like to know something else. You’re from Brussels. If I’m not mistaken, you actually wanted to go into politics after your studies, but then decided to go to Berlin instead. Why? What changed your mind?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:Yes, that’s right, it was quite an unexpected journey. I was born in a family that is politically active and socially engaged, so, I had an early passion for the EU and how it is structured and so forth. I studied Public Relations and European Studies and after finishing university I got a lot of job offers to work in the field of politics. I was just 23 and I realized there was a lot of the world I still wanted to discover. Especially the other side of the change-makers: the entrepreneurs and innovators. And the best place to do that was, of course, Berlin. I did an internship in a startup and got completely hooked by how vibrant, energetic and diverse the startup world is. And here I am, still in Berlin, seven years later.
CCB Magazine:So, what’s the main idea behind Faircado? What is it good for? And how does it work?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:Faircado is a platform that brings together most of the second-hand offers on the internet. We partner with 55 of the biggest platforms who offer second-hand products, like eBay, Rebuy, Refurbed, Vestiaire Collective, Gailed, etc., bring their offers in one place, match them with what a user is looking for, and show them the results. Faircado is a browser extension, that means, you just add it to your browser - for example Chrome, Safari or Firefox - and whenever you go shopping online on a platform selling new products - like Amazon, Zalando, etc. - it pops up automatically with the best second-hand alternatives of what you are looking for. Right now, we have about ten million possible results focusing mainly on clothes, books, and electronics. Other things will be added in the future. The idea behind this, of course, is to help people buy better. There is so much stuff out there and we can’t just keep on making, taking, and wasting it.
Every second, more than 9,000 smartphones and the equivalent of a rubbish truck full of clothes are discarded somewhere around the world. Our world is currently less than 10 percent circular, this means that we waste more than 90 percent of all materials in use
CCB Magazine:Do you have any numbers on the make-take-waste problem?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:Every second, more than 9,000 smartphones and the equivalent of a rubbish truck full of clothes are discarded somewhere around the world. Most of it is exported to landfills, in Africa or South America. Our world is currently less than 10 percent circular, according to a report by The Circle Economy. This means that we waste more than 90 percent of all materials in use, while at the same time still extracting more from the earth than it can regenerate in a year (that’s when the overshoot day happens). That is why we need to accelerate the switch to a more circular economy. One that offers solutions to limit global warming, preserve our natural resources and enable equitable societies.
CCB Magazine:Faircado is based on AI technology. I always have a hard time wrapping my head around such technology. I mean, how the heck does it work? Someone had to program all that, right?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:Yes, Ali and our strong team of developers did. Thanks to his background as a software engineer, he knew what steps had to be taken to create the technology behind Faircado. To be honest with you, I also wouldn’t be able to explain you precisely how it works. Most tech products are big mysteries to people like us who don’t have a background in that, and we have to accept it. What I can tell you is that it’s a very complex process, and we are still improving it every day.
CCB Magazine:How easy or hard was it to finance your venture?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:We have always found ways to finance our venture from the beginning on. We started with a grant from the Startup Incubator Berlin for the first six months. And then we looked for Business Angels, and it went really well! I think the reason for it is that we really gained momentum through what is happening right now in the economy. Prices are up, the second-hand market is booming, people are trying to save money. They become more aware of ecological issues and demand more sustainable products and services, too. So, I think, this general direction gave us a push as well.
CCB Magazine:In which way is the award of the Kreativpiloten that you recently received helping you with your business?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:It’s definitely good PR for us! And we are also proud that we got recognized for the hard work we put in Faircado.
CCB Magazine:Momentarily, Faircado is used by about 1000 people. A drop in the bucket, if you allow me to play the devil’s advocate here. How much more would you like to scale up?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:That’s correct. Those are our amazing test users. They give us great feedback on what we should be improving on. It’s a really important step in the life of a startup - all the giant companies went through it. You have to start small – and think big! - while improving your product gradually. That is what we are focusing on at the moment: building a strong tech foundation of our service. A great product experience! Growth comes next. And for that, the marketing etc., we will probably raise more money.
Our ambition is to make buying second-hand the first choice of customers by 2030. We are making the second-hand industry, the re-commerce, bigger than the e-commerce
CCB Magazine:Ok, let’s talk about the next step. How do you get people to use your service after all?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:We are not here to try and convince people to use our product. We rather solve their problems and let them see the value in it by themselves. And then capitalize on the WOW-effect that using the extension generated, and let people talk about it with their friends and everyone around.
CCB Magazine:And how does Faircado actually make money? Through advertisement?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:We didn’t want to have ads on the platform. It’s usually super annoying. We generate revenue when a user buys something, that’s when our partners pay us a small fee. Very simple. For the user it’s entirely free, and the prices of the products we present are the same as on our partners websites.
CCB Magazine:Final question: Where do you see Faircado in the near future?
Evoléna de Wilde d'Estmael:In Germany alone there are about 70 platforms that offer second-hand items. As a customer you can’t browse through all those platforms, it needs some kind of intelligent filter to get the best, most promising results. Faircado creates this opportunity. To save time, money – and CO2. Our ambition is to make buying second-hand the first choice of customers by 2030. We are making the second-hand industry, the re-commerce, bigger than the e-commerce.
Category: Innovation & Vision
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