Dubious polls often claim that moving house is more traumatic than getting divorced or going bankrupt. Whether or not that’s accurate, reducing the stress of moving was one of the key reasons Oli Mund and Leo Schoeller (both pictured, Mund on right) founded Turtlebox in 2013. Their company’s main goal is to eradicate the cardboard box and make the packing and unpacking of possessions easier, more efficient and more sustainable.
The idea came to Mund while moving apartment in Munich. Although he was working for a financial real-estate company at the time, he dreamt of being an entrepreneur so started looking for a business partner. His timing was perfect: Schoeller, whose family runs a company manufacturing plastic boxes for storage and transit, was at that time searching for applications of this product that might appeal to a “younger generation, the internet generation”.
Combining Mund’s inspiration and Schoeller’s industrial know-how, the pair established Turtlebox, a website through which users rent foldable plastic boxes. The company delivers the boxes and picks them up again once you’ve moved in and unpacked. And though they’re made of plastic, they’re recyclable and can be used 300 times (their cardboard counterparts are used just twice on average).
Having proved the concept in Munich, the founders rolled it out across Germany; their service is now available in 18 cities. This year, as they prepare to launch in Austria and Switzerland and triple growth, we asked Schoeller to highlight the 10 things that have helped them on their route to success.
Cities covered: 18
Boxes rented: about 160,000
Growth outlook for 2017: 300 per cent
1. Order bell
“A tiny bell with a big impact. We installed it after we expanded beyond Munich – to Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Essen, among other cities – and rang it for every new order to motivate us. Besides, it just felt like a typical start-up thing to have.”
“Bavaria gets very cold, especially in winter; without our trainers we wouldn’t make it into the office every day. Luckily for us, start-ups don’t have a set dress code.”
3. Framed portrait of Ramis
“Ramis is one of the last softshell turtles. We adopted him through a charity in Munich. His is one of many species that needs to be protected (and we have a special connection to turtles).”
4. The TurtleTruck
“Munich was the first city where we delivered boxes; back then we did the logistics ourselves. The truck reminds us of those tough times.”
5. Rubber band
“This reminds employees not to fall asleep. Who is most likely to use the rubber band? It depends on the time of day. I am 10 years younger than Oli, I’m not married and I don’t have kids, so am less of a Monday-morning guy. Oli is the Monday-morning bad cop; I’m the bad cop in the afternoon.”
6. Motorcycle helmet
“I come up with my best ideas on a bike. On the way into the office I’m very focused and not distracted by other people talking. This leaves a lot of room to think. Sunny weekend rides into the Alps have the same effect.”
7. The prototype of our box-cleaning machine
“We developed this ourselves to speed up the cleaning process so that we could be more cost-effective. It uses jets of high-pressure air, which makes it too loud to be used in our box storage. So its main function at the moment is as a surface for used coffee mugs.”
8. Two Post-it notes
“One has the internal number for the secretary, who provides helpful information. The other is the internal number for bookkeeping – a less fun call.”
9. An average cardboard box
“This reminds us of our mission. In Munich alone, 160,000 tonnes of cardboard from the moving industry are thrown away every year.”
10. Brainstorming with Leo’s dad
“My father has brought entrepreneurial and industrial experience, being the ceo of an industrial company and the founder of several start-ups that have become strong businesses. However, it’s always a big challenge getting an appointment with him.”