The way we see it, great businesses are driven by a sustainable purpose. A strong and meaningful vision aligns the whole team behind the common goals, to create and build new technologies and business models to change the society as a whole. The purpose is the defining factor when you sell your vision and business to prospective customers, talents and investors. And, especially during tough times as these, your purpose unifies you, making you stronger as a company.
Refurbed is an exceptional example of how to build a great business around a strong, sustainable vision. In a short period of time, Peter, Kilian and Jürgen have been able to build a world-class team and a strong brand among consumers who are willing to take steps for a more sustainable future.
Today, we are proud to announce our partnership with Refurbed, a leading European marketplace for refurbished electronics. We are leading the company’s Series A funding round of $17M – one of the biggest Series A’s ever raised in Austria – with Almaz Capital, Bonsai Partners, All Iron Ventures, FJ Labs and several existing investors joining the round. We are more than excited to back the company in the journey of fundamentally changing European consumption habits and bringing refurbished goods to every household in Europe!
- Sector: Marketplace / eCommerce / GreenTech
- HQ: Vienna, Austria
- Headcount: 80
- Responsible partner: Kim Väisänen
From Slush to Slush and investment
Even though Refurbed is no more than a three-year-old company, we have followed them until Slush 2018, i.e. almost 18 months. Back then, we met two young entrepreneurs who, actually, were not looking for an investment but, instead, were participating to a green-tech startup competition (in which they, eventually, won the second prize). In the meanwhile, being top-of-the-class entrepreneurs, they gathered some feedback from investors and other stakeholders about their progress.
Then, timing was not there but, last fall, we heard the company has opened their A-round. We had a couple of quick calls before we met again in Slush 2019. After that, it was a fast process to sign a term sheet and, eventually, close the investment.
“Strong, purpose-driven vision can be transformed into sales growth and talent attraction but, also, used as a shield against the tough times.”
Between Refurbed and us, there were several things leading to good startup-investor fit. As per Kim Väisänen, our case lead for this investment, there were four main things that led to our investment in Refurbed:
- Founders. This is obviously a VC cliché but, first and foremost, we invest in great and bold founders who can scale their company with us. Peter, Kilian and Jürgen form one of the most ambitious, well-balanced and skillful founder teams we have met to date. They are executing in exceptionally high level and always over-delivering their promises (even though we often find them quite ambitious, too). You don’t grow five-fold to +$45M in a year as a coincidence.
- Vision and sustainability. We want to back companies that are building a truly better and more sustainable future with their companies. This is exactly what Refurbed is doing. Their aim is to radically decrease CO2 emissions and electronic waste by changing the way we Europeans consume as a society.
- Our domain expertise. Our experience about online marketplaces date back to the end of 1980s when Riku, our Managing Partner, started his online bookstore. Ever since, we have been founders or investors in several marketplaces. In particular, we are familiar with refurbishing and selling used electronics throughout Kim’s experience in Blancco, the company he founded and led for 15 years before a successful exit. As part of their data erasure operations, they bought and sold millions of used and refurbished phones per year.
- Market timing. Now, it’s finally about time for circular economy to kick off. Electronics market is obviously huge, but it has been lacking for reliable solutions to buy like-new, high-quality products that are cheaper and significantly more sustainable than the brand-new equivalents. Refurbed is fulfilling this demand and, in our opinion, has a significant opportunity to tap the currently under-served market.
Growing a great business throughout sustainability, also in tough times
In Evli Growth Partners, we believe that not-so-far in the future, there is only one type of businesses that will thrive: those that we call ‘sustainable’ today. It can already be seen in consumer behaviour and more and more in talent and capital attraction, too. In Refurbed, the passion for their mission is clear throughout the whole company. It has led them to an exceptionally fast growth and given them an unfair advantage in Austrian recruitment market.
“We believe sustainable companies are the strongest and they will thrive in any environment.”
As Riku Asikainen, our Managing Partner, states: “As Peter, Kilian and Jürgen have shown, building a beautiful business starts from a strong, purpose-driven vision that is effectively communicated. It can be transformed into sales growth and talent attraction but, also, used as a shield against the tough times as we are now experiencing with COVID-19 in Europe. No matter a downturn or epidemic, people will continue buying necessary goods and, still, will have the desire to choose what is best for the future if it’s easily and attractively offered to them. We believe sustainable companies are the strongest and they will thrive in any environment. In our opinion, Refurbed is a great example of that and we are proud to back them in their journey.”