I’ve spent the last few days at Slush in Helsinki. There’s snow and lots of amazing startups — and of course, the infamous Slush 100 startup competition, where startups compete for a cool €1 million in funding.
And today, Tech.eu was granted an exclusive interview with the winner of Slush 100, Faircado.
Berlin-based Faircado is tackling the issue of the fragmented and messy second-hand market landscape and the rising demand for sustainable — yet affordable- — shopping options among consumers.
It turns a linear retail economy into a circular one, encouraging people to buy used goods whenever possible.
The company has developed an AI-powered browser plugin that automatically finds cheaper second-hand alternatives when consumers shop online, sourcing items from platforms such as eBay, offering consumers like-for-like items in a category of choice such as books, electronic appliances, and fashion.
I have to say, it is a company not new to me; I first saw them pitch at Earlybird VC’s Vision Lab demo day in 2022, an event showcasing startups founded by migrants — and I use their product myself.
I spoke to co-founder and CEO Evoléna de Wilde d‘Estmael to learn more.
Second-hand shopping goes mainstream
de Wilde d‘Estmael tells me that the company's genesis came from her frustrations shopping secondhand online and the difficulty of trying to persuade her friends to switch to buying secondhand without much success.
“It was inconvenient and time-consuming, and you scrolled for hours on badly designed websites.”
Faircado partners with over 50 platforms selling second-hand products, such as eBay, Back Market, Grailed, Rebuy and Vestiaire Collective.
I was curious how the company was able to assemble so many retailers together on its platform and de Wilde d‘Estmael shared:
“We were really surprised to see how enthusiastic they have always been about the idea of Faircado because we really offer them an amazing way to acquire and retain their customers or offer new customers. So we take traffic from Amazon to them.”
The financial model is simple, with the company earning a percentage small commission on sales made through clicks from its platform to its partners' sites as well as a fixed fee for every user redirected to the partner platforms.
And the company is continuing to find novel ways to disrupt conventional retail – it launched on Product Hunt on this year’s Black Friday and was voted best product globally.
"This is huge validation from nerds!"
While the company has traction across all age groups, it particularly resonates with Gen Z. de Wilde d‘Estmael told me,
“We really speak to Gen Z, they have very different ways of consuming. Within are two different markets. Many put their values above everything else, with a hyper-sustainable ethos where they live their values and would never work for a company that doesn't have a significant positive impact.
Other Gen Z folk are more fashionable first, but we appeal to them also because even the ones who are not the typical sustainable, second hand shopper would be also interested in having the Gucci bag, when it's 70 percent cheaper. And that's what we can offer as well.”
What do you do with an extra €1 million?
The company plans to spend its prize money on hiring and starting to really build a proper marketing strategy. Further, while the product is web browser-based in its current iteration, it has plans for an app in the future.
“We want to continue developing this product, and extend to different new markets as well, such as the US, in the long term. We want to grow this as fast as possible because we believe this is the moment for sustainability.”
“One of the reasons I really want things to change is because we just don't have a choice; we really, really have to rethink the way that we consume the way that we live and the way that we interact with our environment on this planet.”
Slush 100 is back, baby!
Following the necessary due diligence, the winner of Slush 100 gets an equity investment from the leading early-stage funds in Europe: Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA, and Northzone. These funds have backed companies like Meta, Stripe, Airbnb, Snap, Uber, Spotify, Salesforce, Instacart, and Klarna.
It’s no secret that Slush 100 was mired in controversy in 2022, but this year sees the competition back in the spotlight for all the right reasons.
Lead image via Slush. Photo: Petri Anttila.