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Category: Refurbished Industry

WebSummit 2017 in Lisbon

WebSummit 2017 in Lisbon

WebSummit 2017 in Lisbon

This week my Co-Founder Peter and I addended the largest technology & start-up conference in Europe: WebSummit. More than 60.000 people attended the event with amazing speakers like Former Vice President of the United States of America Al Gore, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager as well as many CEOs of the largest corporates in the world like Intel, Oracle, Microsoft or Slack.

The refurbed booth
Refurbed booth at WebSummit 2017

Refurbed booth at WebSummit 2017

Our company refurbed got selected to attend the conference with its own booth in the eCommerce area. We had many interesting conversations with people from all around the world about the refurbished industry in general as well as the current situation and acceptance in the specific areas of the planet.

In addition, we were chosen to participate at the WebSummit “PITCH” competition, where the 200 world’s leading early-stage Start-Ups came together for a live on-stage battle in front of the world’s leading investors.

Keynotes & Fireside Chats

Next to all the meetings, conversations, investor talks we had during the week, we also took the chance to attend at some amazing Keynotes and firesite chats of large political as well as industry leaders.

I would like to outline 3 here:

  1. A discussion between three leading US VCs on the topic of “Profit, Impact & Purpose”. The overall outcome of the conversation was that new companies must be purpose driven, so their business model must combine finance & sustainability to be successful in the future.
  2. A firesite chat on the topic of “Circular economy” including Peter Lacy, the Global Lead Growth, Strategy & Sustainability at Accenture! To summarize the discussion there is a shift away from the old value chain of: “take, make, throw away, waste”towards “take, make, take, make, take, make”, so more about a long-term value a company can deliver to a customer!
  3. The final Keynote was held by Al Gore on the climate crisis, sustainability, the Paris agreement and that we must act now to save the world from a disaster. It was a really intense speech, especially because he was addressing it directly to all of us WebSummit attendees:“My purpose here is to recruit you to be part of the solution to the climate crisis […] You can have a bigger impact than practically any other group in the entire world.” 
    Having a business model, which combines monetarization and sustainability (as more as we are selling as better it is for the environment), which we are glad to have with our company refurbed, lets us take part in exactly this important movement.

Summarizing my experience at WebSummit 2017 in Lisbon I have to say that it is a gigantic event, with amazing speakers, great Start-Ups, the biggest corporates and incredible fascinating people. See you again at WebSummit 2018 – it had been a blast!!! 🙂

WebSummit 2017 Closing Event

WebSummit 2017 Closing Event

New Project, new City, new Adventure, new (own) Company: refurbed

After leaving Amazon 2 month ago for a new opportunity and exciting challenge, I am glad to tell you now what it is about.

I moved to Vienna, Austria, to Co-Found the new Online-Marketplace Refurbed is an online marketplace for refurbished electronics in Germany & Austria. We built a platform to connect professional merchants and consumers. The great benefits of our marketplace: our customers save up to 40%, get at least one year of warranty and help preserve the environment.

Refurbed Logo

Refurbed Logo

My great Co-Founders are:
1. Peter, who had been a Digital Consultant for McKinsey the last couple of years and advised large marketplaces in Europe on the topics of marketing, traffic generation and conversion optimisation.
And 2. Jürgen, who is an experienced entrepreneur and oversees all our development efforts as CTO.

Team Picture Refurbed

Refurbed Co-Founder: Peter, Kilian & Jürgen

Currently we are running an MVP, where we use a platform as a service solution of the provider “Marketplaces Inc.“! Nevertheless, in parallel we are developing our own website from scratch to have more flexibility in our long-term operations, which we plan to launch end of the year.

In the first month we were already able to generate first sales and could increase our product portfolio to around 300 different items, from phones, laptops to tables and headphones. In addition, we were able to learn many insights about customer behaviour as well as feedback from Sellers. All of it will be used to develop our website the best possible way, so both customers and Sellers have a great experience on!

I will keep you updated about our cool new refurbed design and platform features, whenever we have news 🙂


“Circle Economy” – Re-Marketing / Refurbished in the politics

Sustainability is an important topic on nearly all political agendas of the last two decades. Mainly about ways to reduce the pollution and stop the climate change through renewable energy or restrictions of productions or car use. Around 5 years ago a new wording has been developed by researches and therefore picked-up by the politics in the industrial world: “circle economy”.

What is “circle economy”?

The idea behind the circle economy is to give each product the opportunity of a second life. One important part of this is refurbishment, but the meaning of this term is going even further. In theory base each ingredient, which has been used for the production of a product, should be re-used. The result would be no waste. But how is that even possible? This of course would require also a re-thinking of the manufacturer as they have to produce products on a different way, so they can be easily re-used in the future. As always this new thinking of the manufacturer, who see in this process a risk to their business (i.e. customers purchase each 2 years a new phone with their mobile contract), needs to be pushed through the politics with new regulations and laws.

How does the politic “pushes” re-marketing/refurbishment?

It is not possible to answer this question on a global scale as there sadly is no worldwide regulation. Nevertheless some countries have already set-up first processes to support the re-marketing industry:

US: In some states the governmental institutions have to purchase their products from refurbishers (i.e. PCs in an administrative office).

Sweden: In Sweden the government has reduced the VAT rate on product repair services from 25% to 12%.

EU: Within the EU the EU-commission is currently working on an industry analysis to receive more insights about this industry and how it can be supported to grow.

Job creation

By an increase of refurbishing activities the unemployment rate would be reduced as for the refurbishing/repair process you need more employees than for waste management or the new production. This of course is also an important point for the politics to support the development of this industry.

It is estimated that for every 10.000 tonnes of waste:

  • 1 job can be created incinerated
  • 6 jobs if it is landfilled
  • 36 if it is recycled
  • 296 if it is re-used/refurbished


How is the society seeing refurbished products nowadays?

To answer this question it is necessary to define the country we are looking at. The societies in countries like the US, UK and Scandinavia are clearly better educated and more open-minded towards refurbished products than we are in central Europe like Germany.

“Refurbished” – a new condition

Probably the current biggest issue is the misunderstanding of what a refurbished product really is. Most of the people associate a refurbished product with a classic “used” product, so they only divide between two product conditions: “New” and “Used”, but this is not the case anymore. The condition “refurbished” is not a sub-category of “used”, it is a self-standing condition, which is between “new” and “used” as it combines the benefits of both! The product price is more likely the price of a “used” product, but technically as well as the exterior it is like-new (depending on the Grading level – see December post).


One of the biggest current problems is the trust-issue of customers. When they have to decide to purchase a brand new phone or a 10-40% cheaper refurbished phone, they are often still taking the higher priced “new” one. As the quality of a refurbished product is depending on the quality process of the refurbisher (as described in my last post), a good quality can only be guaranteed, if you purchase a refurbished product from a well-known player. To increase the trust for the customer most refurbisher offer at least a 1-year warranty (some even up to 36 months), which means that the customer can return the product for every not self-responsible defect within this time period.

Refurbishment association/union

Actually in Germany and Austria there is no association existing (like in most of the countries), which would be countable for the refurbished industry (i.e. to develop overall standards). As the industry is just in the beginning it is not a surprise, but of course it would clearly help for the acceptance as well as the awareness of this new industry.


When customers purchasing refurbished products on well-known marketplaces like Amazon or eBay one of the biggest issues is that the customer experience (i.e. product detail page) nearly looks exactly the same as for new products. The result: customers are complaining for example that the product “is fake, as the product is coming in a generic box and not in the original one”. This issue is driven as these marketplace are not changing their whole interface for this new category. Refurbished products are in need of explanation at least for now, where it is still a relatively new “thing”!


In most surveys the majority of people are saying that sustainability is important for me. Nevertheless when asking them what they are currently doing to support the sustainability? The responses are often inaccurate as sustainability is something you have to care to be accepted in the society, but you don´t want to give up the comfort or standards you currently have. If we are able to outline these people that with a refurbished product they do not have to give up any standards (same product quality and also a warranty), but could still do something good for the sustainability, this could really make a difference.


The biggest task in the following years will be to educate the society what refurbished means and especially that it is a new self-standing condition, which is between “new” and “used”. One of the strongest forces to support and develop such a change of thinking, can be the politics. Especially if refurbishing as a part of sustainability is getting a more and more important topic on their political agenda.

What are the usual steps during the refurbish process/Grading?

Every used products, which should become a refurbished one, will run through mainly the same 5 steps. These steps are often standardized to ensure a high quality at the end of the refurbished process. Within the industry the final result of refurbished products are separated into different grading categories for the shell of the product. This is really important as each refurbished product should be technically working like-new, but only be differentiated by the outside look though the individual grading. As each refurbisher could have their own wording for the grading, in the following I will use the most common categorization: 1. The best possible product quality for a refurbished product is an “A Grading”, which means that the product looks like-new from the outside (if you hold the product in your hand like 30cm away from your eye you will not spot any scratches or ditches on the surface). 2. The second best refurbished quality is a “B Grading”, which is a product that looks like-new on the first view, but could have really small scratches (2mm), not on the screen, when you are taking a closer look. 3. The “C Grading” already shows clear signs of use on the first look, with possible small scratches on the screen. And finally “D Grading” means long scratches, even on the screen, which often makes this product not attractive to refurbish.

1. Product quality check

When the used product arrives in the production facility, it will be running through an outside inspection for the first rating. Here the refurbisher is checking, which phones will be refurbished and for which ones the process would be too expensive. The ones, which are too broken to refurbish (Grading “D” and sometimes even “C”) are normally sold in large qualities to Asia, Middle East or Africa as the salary level in these areas is extremely low. (For products, which have a cloud connection, i.e. Apple iPhones, there will be an additional step to ensure that the previous owner has erased the icloud account from the phone as it cannot be used, if it would be still connected to the old user´s account.) The remaining products made it to step 2…

2. Data erasing & battery check

As normally all of the refurbished products have been used in the past, one of the most important steps is the Data erasing. Probably no one wants that another person is able to see all their private content. For this reason the refurbisher are using a special software, which erases every remaining data point outside of the required firmware. Therefore you will never find any old data on a refurbished phone (at least, if you buy from a trustable source).

In addition, the refurbisher is checking the current battery life of each product. The normal requirements for a refurbished product are stating that it needs to have at least 70 to 80 % (depending on the refurbisher) of the normal battery life, so that this part does not have to be replaced during the further process.

3. Check & Repair

As now all the remaining data has been erased, the surface and functionality gets into the focus again. Does the Touchscreen function correctly? What is about the Home Button? Does the products charges? Can I put my headphones in the opening? And many more questions, which have to be answered at this step (depending on the refurbisher these are often 40 to 70 individual check-points)! As you probably can imagine for each question, to which an employee answers with a “no”, this part has to be repaired or replaced.

So how does all of it can be checked? Is it all manually “hand-made”? For the large players in the industry the answer – probably not so surprisingly – is NO. The companies have developed different technical tools to support them in these checking processes. Nevertheless not all process can be automated and these have to be done manually by human hands.

4. Final check & cleaning

Nowadays the final check is still handled by a human hand, which finally checks, if all the refurbish processes have been done successful, so the product can have a happy second life.

To ensure that the new owner will receive the product clean and look like-new, the cleaning of the products surface is the last step before the product gets repackaged.

5. Repackagung

As mostly the used products are not coming with an original packaging the product will be delivered to the new user in a generic box (or branded box by the refurbisher). Often customers are thinking that therefore the product quality will be lower or a product is fake, but there is a really easy reason for this: The manufacturer just don´t want to provide the refurbishers with original packaging (probably as they are afraid that a product could be sold as original new instead of refurbished).

As you can see, the refurbishers do not work less professional then the manufacturers themselves! Often the products are also getting fully dissembled for the refurbishment and the quality requirements are extremely high and strict. There is literally no real reason to NOT buy a refurbished product, as long as the source (refurbisher) is trustable.

What exactly is refurbishment and refurbished?

One of the questions I have been challenged the most with during the last months has been “What exactly is refurbishment and who is doing it?

I have to say it is a valid question! Nowadays the term “refurbishment” is not really established in our vocabulary or society in general.

So what is refurbishment?

The term refurbishment means something has been repaired, cleaned, and made to look new again.

The phrase “look new again” mainly makes the difference to a classic “used” product, which usually has signs of usage.

In the past, refurbishment has primarily be used in the term of a renovation, i.e. of a building, but it is also used in a technical manner. In this case next to the “repaired, cleaned and made to look new again” attributes of the word, we would also add tested to function like-new.

Summarizing the meaning of the word “refurbishment” in a context of technical products it would be something like “a product which has been repaired, cleaned, tested to function and look like-new“!

As you now know what refurbishment is, probably the next question that you have is….

What kind of products can be refurbished?

Overall you can say that all products, which have electronic and technical contents can be refurbished: Phones, drilling machines, notebooks, kitchen devices, hair dryers, watches, etc.!

Nevertheless the most common refurbished goods nowadays are smartphones, tablets and notebooks. Especially products, which have a high selling price as the price difference compared to a “new” product makes a real difference, often up to 50%.

Who is refurbishing the products?

There are mainly 3 different ways how a product is refurbished:

  1. A small amount of manufacturers are refurbishing their products themselves (i.e. Apple)
  2. Many manufacturers are using large authorized refurbishers, who refurbish their products with an official manufacturer authorization (i.e. Microsoft)
  3. And the last group are third-party refurbishers, which are refurbishing products with their own capabilities, but without any official authorization (often through trade-in programs)

In general you can say that for nearly no brand there is only one of the above ways existing, which means that for example an refurbished Apple iPhones on the market can come from each one of the above 3 different refurbishment sources.

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