Jumping through hoops to sell stuff online can seem more of a hassle than the measly €5 you’re probably going to be offered for the vintage, leopard-print gloves that are obviously worth far, far more than that. That’s where Hamburg-based startup Stuffle steps in to help. It has one mission: to set up an online marketplace that takes away the complexity of selling online, making the experience fun and pain-free. So while you might not get a higher offer for those gloves, at least it’ll only take you a couple of minutes to get them online…
VentureVillage caught up with Morten Hartmann, the founder of Stuffle, to find out what’s in the works for the startup and why eBay has already come knocking at their door…
Hi Morten, who are you and what are you doing?
It’s kind of a classified app and, to be honest, it’s like a mobile flea market. It’s very easy to put a product on Stuffle, you just take a picture, write a caption, put a price on it and share it on Facebook with all your friends, so you can reach even more people and sell it even faster. We use a lot of the advantages of smartphones to make it even easier to sell things as quickly as possible.
How did you come across your idea?
It was at a barbeque when I was chatting with my friends. One of them wanted to sell some stuff on eBay and was complaining about it being a pain in the ass. We thought we could make the whole process a lot easier. So that’s where the idea for Stuffle began, but it was a while before I took the plunge and started working on it, I began alone by going to the Digital Pioneers incubator from May to September this year. Now we have 14 people in the company, with seven of them friends of mine, the same guys we wanted to start the company with in 2005 but who didn’t have the guts to do it then!
What were you doing before Stuffle?
I studied economics and mathematics and worked as a front end developer for an internet agency for several years and did my PhD before I started Stuffle – which is my first startup experience.
The mobile approach is new, we’re strictly mobile at the moment. It’s very hard to go from web to mobile, but the other way round is easier. So that’s why we started with mobile first, and worked really hard to make the mobile version very simple. And we’re just about to announce an Android version, plus a new version of the app, at the moment we are still a prototype.
As far as competitors are concerned, it is obviously a competitive market. eBay Kleinanzeigen is our biggest competitor, but their mobile apps don’t get much traction. There is also Garage, which started in Italy, but is now targeting the US market. In the US there is a lot of competition, that’s why we’re focusing on the European market. And now there is Shpock – our first clone, but they are going in a different direction to us.
Where is Stuffle most popular?
In Germany at the moment, particularly Berlin and Hamburg. Though our biggest market is the Rohrgebiet, so Dortmund and Essen. We’re targeting Germany, but are available worldwide.
What is your business model?
It’s a two step business model. Our first step is the inner payment, just like PayPal, so we take a three per cent cut from the sales. The next step will be credit, so you can add different features to your account, which you have to buy from us.
Who is financing you?
A the moment, the incubator I was in is financing us – Digital Pioneers.
Is there something that you missing?
We’re hiring marketing people at the moment. When we internationalise, we’ll need more managers, but that will probably be around 2014. At the moment, we’re not looking for financing, though when eBay comes round of course we will talk to them!
I would have lunch with Wynton Rufer, a former soccer player for Werder Bremen, my favourite team. He is from New Zealand. I’d like to play chess with him too, because we both love it.
Any advice you’d give for fellow startups?
You have to get the right connections, that’s very important. There is a lot of cool stuff out there, and what you’re doing could be really useful or interesting, but you have to know the right people to get it out. Because most people are not able to do it on their own.
Where will you be in a year’s time?
We are going to be quite big. We have some very, very smart ideas that we’re coming up with. So Stuffle will work even better. The next step will be search, but we don’t want to go with categories, we don’t like that at all. I mean, behind the scenes of course we will have search functions, but we want it to be as easy and as nice as possible for the users. We’re planning on getting about 500,000 downloads in a year’s time.
I think we’re on a good track to get this. And we’ve grown mainly through word of mouth, that’s how it tends to work in this market.
Nico Lumma (left, COO of Digital Pioneers) helped us get a lot of downloads in the beginning. He posted about us on Twitter, and he has about 12,000 followers and after that we got about 5,000 downloads!
It’s a combination of stuff and sale – easy!
Image credit: Flickr user Kiwicanary