For Daniel Boldin, it pays to stick to your roots. A Frankfurt (Oder) native, Mr Boldin has been CEO of local start-up AsGoodAsNew Electronics since 2014. He cites the city’s pool of talent, technology base and low costs as good reasons to stay in the neighbourhood.
Founded by another local, Christian Wolf, in his living room in 2008, AsGoodAsNew buys used electronic goods, reconditions them and sells them online to individuals and businesses around the world. The company now employs 130 people in two sites, Frankfurt (Oder) and Berlin, with its headquarters and most of its employees located in the former. In 2015, turnover increased by 40% to more than €30m. The company's biggest investors are French venture capital firm Ventech and German firm Brandenburg Capital.
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Site director Jens Heine says: “Our specialty that set us apart from our competitors in the refurbishment market was the refurbishment of parts of products – we wouldn’t just take the product as a whole and sell it on. We take it apart, replace the damaged or old parts, and resell it.”
AsGoodAsNew sells on its own website as well as international platforms eBay and Amazon. “At the moment we’re number one in the [device] refurbishing business in Europe,” says Mr Heine.
Mr Boldin says: “A lot of our employees came from Viadrina University, the European business school here, so [the company] was a local baby born in Frankfurt (Oder). We feel very comfortable in Frankfurt (Oder) because we are in technology and consumer electronics and we have really good access to people here.”
AsGoodAsNew is located in Frankfurt (Oder)’s TeGeCe tech park, which houses ____ companies in sectors from business process outsourcing to renewable energy, and leases facilities to companies at affordable rates, providing services such as refurbishment, electricity and security.
“What we offer is comparable quality at a much cheaper price, and that drove our business really, really fast,” says Mr Boldin. “We’ve grown quickly and we have enough space to grow. From an investor’s perspective, you are looking at attractive structural costs regarding rent prices, wage levels, and especially access to people of a certain quality. That’s a reason why we are still in Frankfurt (Oder) and why we intend to stay here.”
Room for expansion
In 2014, after two years at the TeGeCe, the company needed more space and worked with the tech park’s management to move into a larger facility on the campus, a former semi-conductor plant which was fully refurbished for them within six months.
“That was really important, because we want to concentrate on business, on increasing volumes, and certainly not on moving sites,” says Mr Boldin. The company plans to move into part of this additional space by the end of 2016, and will need even more room next year.
“If you had that situation in other parts of Germany, you would never have a partner saying ‘well, you are currently one of the biggest companies in Frankfurt (Oder), we appreciate your being here and building opportunities for the people here, and we keep space reserved your growth’,” Mr Boldin adds. “This story wouldn’t happen in Munich, for example.”
The CEO attests to also receiving strong support from the city’s administration. “We are starting to internationalise our business and increase the power of our workshop, increase capacity and skill in Frankfurt (Oder) so that we can win international investors,” he says. “When closing fundraising, sometimes it’s beneficial to get quick registration to have quick flow of funding volumes. Frankfurt (Oder) is always working very quickly and supporting us so we don’t lose time and we get good access to additional funds to keep on growing.”