In conversation with Ralph Carol
– The interview was conducted by Hanns Tappen
After the pitch is before the pitch. This, or similar, is how you can describe it in reference to sports competitions when you win as a startup at the StartupDorf Unicorn Pitch. After all, winning the series qualifies you to participate in the Unicorn Grand Prix next year. Today we want to take the opportunity to have a short interview with the winner of the July session. On July 7, Ralph Carol, CEO of Refur Rad was able to prevail against his competitors. At the end of the 94th Gründerstammtisch he was the winner of the Unicorn Pitch and took the Trophy from Düsseldorf to Dormagen. Of course, the Gründerstammtisch (Founders’ Roundtable) took place online and therefore the pitches were also completed online. Once again, the audience decided, making the Unicorn Pitch a true audience award.
Hey Ralph, you participated in the StartupDorf Unicorn Pitch for your startup in July and won. How did the victory feel for you?
Hello Hanns! Honestly, I'm surprised and overwhelmed! Despite other great startups, the audience has voted for us. Nevertheless, such a support is what fuels us to reach extra miles!
Please tell those who couldn’t witness your pitch in three or four sentences: Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Ralph Gerald, Founder & CEO of Refur Rad UG from Dormagen-Horrem. We Refur Rad have created real and sustainable solutions to a huge existing problem for both the public and the city. Therefore on behalf of city authorities and with the support of Ordnungsamt we remove all abandoned bikes from the streets, and train stations. Then they are completely cleaned, repaired and refurbished for a New life, because we work on the concept of Refurbishing & Reusing, not Recycling!! And we provide a reliable platform, that offers a wide range of affordable and sustainable refurbished bikes, that could actually 'serve its purpose'.
Important mission and concept: Refurbishing & Reusing, not Recycling – which also convinced our audience. By winning the Unicorn in July you have qualified for the Unicorn Pitch Grand-Prix participation in February 2022. There is still a little time until then. Assuming it would already be February 2022, what news or success stories would you most like to include in the pitch?
Apart from abandoned bikes in the city, there are a lot more bikes (particularly in Germany) kept unused and to be repaired from our very own basement and I'm personally happy to show the number of bikes we rescued and gave them a new life. And most importantly, Refur Rad would like to answer the following questions: 1. Is there really a need for manufacturing new bikes? 2. Is there a shortage for bikes? Or shortage of new fancy bikes? 3. Will changes in choices preferring refurbished bikes reduce or prevent CO2 emissions? 4. I would like to mention how much CO2 emissions 'Refur Rad' have been prevented, so far.
Giving bicycles a new life. – A really nice picture. And there are really a lot of wheels slumbering a sad life in dark basements – that is certainly true. In February 2022, it’s back to the pitching plank – the Grand Prix. What do you think is important? In other words, what would be your tips for founders who have never pitched before – what should they pay attention to?
Give a little extra time to explain your product and figures behind it, rather than telling overused stories / Use a stronger picture so that people will understand easily and not be bored.
I have to question the issue of COVID in your case as well. Online / offline, from your point of view, what has changed due to the pandemic in the startup ecosystem in which you are at home? Have you seen any concrete impact of Covid-19 in the startup event landscape at pitch events, among others?
COVID-19 made a dramatic change in people's preferences and needs, particularly consumer habits with bikes. And we saw the opportunities for us as a startup, which we were able to anticipate these changes. Therefore for me personally, rather saying COVID-19 as a challenge, I would say it's an opportunity. What I really miss is the engagement, In-person or one-on-one meetings should have been a better approach, rather than seeing the grids of heads. And more exhausting is, I know everybody's looking at me, and I can't resist looking at my own face, in front of the camera. ;) At the same time, I learnt how essential it is for survival (especially when new to the market) and adapting to the new normal.
Yes, I’ve heard of shortages in the bike market. Delivery problems and higher sales. Something like that promotes the secondary market. Dear Ralph, thank you very much for the interview. We at StartupDorf wish you much success with Refur Rad. We also look forward to seeing you again at the StartupDorf Unicorn Pitch Grand-Prix in 2022.
Would you like to participate in the StartupDorf Unicorn Pitch yourself?
You can find more information about the pitch and the application form via the following link. You can read more in the article “Everything you should know about the Unicorn Pitch“.
The next dates in 2021 are:
- November 3 (Application deadline 10/16)
- December 1