When DaWanda was founded in Germany in December 2006, handmade was still a niche alternative to industrialised mass production. After almost six years, the online marketplace has amassed over two million active members with 8.8million visits per month. Functioning out of the Berlin offices, German co-founders Claudia Helming and Michael Pütz have managed to attract 150,000 designers to their site, offering over two million products with roughly 7,000 new items added each day from fashion and jewellery to household goods.
Founders Michael Pütz and Claudia Helming, recently listed among Europe’s top women in tech
Discarding an homogeneous approach towards European designers and buyers, the company plans to study and market toward local traditions and setbacks. Last month, Dawanda launched in the Netherlands. Now, the company is expanding beyond its Berlin nest. With new offices in Spain, Poland, and Italy, Dawanda aims for market leadership in each of these new countries.
To head up the effort in Madrid is Alberto Lorente, formerly Country Manager of Skype in Spain. In Warsaw, Marcin Szalek, former Managing Director of Groupon Poland, is at the helm. “For our business model to be successful in Europe in the long term, it is essential that we devise a tailored approach for each country,” says Claudia Helming.
“The significance of handmade on the one hand, and of social commerce on the other hand, varies from market to market, sometimes considerably.” The Paris team is led by Violette Watine, founder of the on-and-offline organic cosmetics company Mademoiselle Bio.
In Spain, only five percent of the 190,000 designers who are self-employed full-time are selling online. With the current economic climate, designers struggle to find opportunities for sale without high initial investment or significant risk. “We give them access to two million potential buyers across the whole of Europe,” says Lorente of Dawanda Spain. “It should be as natural to choose a piece of handmade jewelry as it is to shop for big brands,” adds Szalek.