Stop wasting! Products that can no longer be sold normally due to e.g. small dents often end up in the trash, but someone else might still find them useful …
Michael Reiter recognised this and founded the”Fairmittlerei” in 2015. Together with his team, they ensure the redistribution of products in Austria that would otherwise only have contributed to the mountains of garbage that can be used by those who need them much cheaper.
This is good for our environment and society, which is, why we are happy to present this Green Business Interview. Have fun reading!
How and when do you come up with the idea of starting your own company?
I spent five years at Henkel in marketing and sales. We had monthly meetings where we talked about what we could do with products that didn’t sell as well as expected.
After I stopped working at Henkel, I read about the concept that surplus goods from industry and trade are conveyed to NGOs. Innatura in Germany already implemented this. I thought this is what we need too!
Some have too little, others have too much. So why not bring them together?
What was your motivation and vision back then?
I just wanted to use my skills and “talents” for something that not only makes me money, but also adds value to society.
I was lucky enough to be able to afford a “normal good” life. So why not give something back and help people who may not have been as well off as me.
My motivation has not really changed since then. Sometimes it would be nice to have a more stable and/or higher income, but the work is just a lot of fun, I learn a lot and I get back a lot that would be left behind in a “normal” job.
Have there been any initial challenges?
Why in the beginning?! 😄Every day is a challenge!
The biggest challenge is dealing with the emotional roller coaster ride that you as a (social) entrepreneur experience several times a day! 😉
Sometimes you get a message that an important customer has placed a large order and the next moment an important cooperation partner does not participate.
Especially as a young company, things like that have even more impact than if you have been established for many years and the “daily business” is a bit more orderly.
What does a typical day look like in your life today?
There is actually no typical day.
In fact, every day is different from the one before or after, which just makes it very exciting. It is also exhausting, but a lot of great things happen that you would not have expected.
What are the most important skills and qualities to be successful in your industry?
With the Fairmittlerei, networking is the most important thing. As a second characteristic, handling the emotional roller coaster ride described above is probably the most important.
A very important factor is enthusiasm! Both for yourself, so that you can inspire yourself and so that your own enthusiasm also infects other people. Because alone, at least in my case, it would not be possible at all! Without the team and everyone in it, that wouldn’t work!
Do you have a secret to success?
Start doing! The most important thing is that you implement ideas and don’t wait until you have planned everything perfectly and eliminated all risks. You can’t do that! The most important thing is to start things and be open to any challenge. Unfortunately, I am also not a “flagship entrepreneur”, but I just stay tuned.
How do you / is your company making money?
The Fairmittlerei takes usable non-food products that are no longer sold by industry and trade and mediates them to non-profit organizations (NGOs). The latter pay a small agency fee when they order products from us. We cover the operational costs of the Fairmittlerei and NGOs save about 80% of the actual market price, i.e. the price in the supermarket.
Is there anything that you think needs improvement in your industry?
So far, the topic of disposal of usable non-food products has hardly been addressed. In Austria, however, according to a study that we carried out with the Austrian Ecology Institute, drugstore items up to 2,250 tons of usable products are destroyed each year alone. That is insane!
Other product categories such as clothing, furniture, electrical goods, books, toys etc., are not taken into account at all! … or return goods etc.!
That needs to change! And this is exactly where we want to tackle fair mediation!
If you could start again, would you do something different?
That is difficult to say! You could certainly always do something different or better. But at the respective time, we had a level of knowledge or information and we acted accordingly. In retrospect, it’s easy to say what you’d do differently.
What advice do you give others for their lives and careers?
Do what you enjoy! Only then you can actually put your skills and talents “on the road” and make a difference. No matter in which area!
Also take care of your friends and your private life! You quickly lose sight of it, or take it for granted if you focus too much on your own project. But your personal life, family and friends are very important!