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From flea markets to an online garage sale
reBuy founder Laurence Leuschner. Photo: DPA

From flea markets to an online garage sale

Published on: 24 Nov 2014 15:41 CET

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With one million registered users, more than eight million products on offer and 400 employees in its Berlin headquarters, rebuy.de is a top player in the pre-owned market. Users can quickly and securely buy and sell mobile phones, books, video games, movies, music, software, consoles, laptops, tablets and eBook readers for a set price.

Sellers simply package their product and send it to reBuy.de to immediately have the sale price transferred to their bank account. Buyers can also purchase quality-assured goods at prices up to 50% less than that for new products - with an 18-month reBuy guarantee.

The Local caught up with Leuschner, who plans to take reBuy.de into new markets.

How did you come up with this business idea?

The passion for pre-owned products got into me while I was still a child. My father ran a successful import-export business for South American products in Frankfurt, and customers sometimes wouldn't like what they bought and return it, or if a few products got damaged in transit they would lie idle gathering dust.

I started selling these products in flea markets from the time I was around eight years old. Soon, I became an expert in the flea market scene.

A few years later, eBay arrived in Germany. I used to sell and buy a lot through its marketplace. I founded Trade-a-game, an online website for exchanging games. Eventually, I realized that pre-owned products make for an interesting category and a business in this category would make good sense.

reBuy.de was started in 2009 - inspired by eBay but dealing in used products - and we sold movies, CDs, games, books, etc. Now, we have 10 pre-owned categories and have doubled revenues in a year.

What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?

I didn't have any business model to copy as such and had to build up this company right from scratch. Everything from the webpage to the program, etc., were developed by us at the outset.

Logistics are very important in such a business and we had to focus on that area a lot.

Another challenge was to convince angel investors to buy this idea as it was new for them. To inspire consumers' trust, we also decided to give them an 18-month warranty on their purchases.

How has the journey been so far?

I was lucky to find some investors in 2006 and scaled up the business from a small to a large startup. However, as the business grew, so did the challenges, especially in logistics. Working out a new strategy for logistics every two years was quite a challenge.

Our rapid growth was a big challenge across the value chain. We had to upgrade financial systems and implement new marketing strategies as well.

It is, however, a milestone to now have 2.5 million items available on our catalogues and ship out around 600,000 products while receiving around 800,000 products every month.

How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?

You grow as a person along with your company. I have changed as a person and feel a lot more responsibility on my shoulders than I did 10 years ago. I take it seriously and support my employees while also trying to balance my own personal and professional lives. I try to find time for family, playing sports and having enough sleep.

Any other personal reflections and/ or message to budding entrepreneurs?

As an entrepreneur, you have to have different capabilities and always be ready to perform different tasks.

Sparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After having worked in the top Indian media companies, he decided to come to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local and blogging about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.

The Local(news@thelocal.de)

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