Faircado, a Berlin, Germany-based startup that provides an AI-powered second-hand shopping assistant, raised €500K in pre-seed funding. In conjunction with the announcement, CEO Evoléna de Wilde d’Estmael agreed to answer our questions about the company, the product, the funding and future plans.
Evolena is a climate activist and purpose-driven entrepreneur. She is a co-founder of AI-powered second-hand assistant Faircado and women’s empowerment nonprofit consultancy Solidartsy. As a founder of Faircado, she aims to shift the linear economy to a circular economy by making second-hand the first choice of every consumer. Evolena is a member of the Greentech Alliance and Leader for Climate Action as well as an EU climate Pact Ambassador in Germany. She was included in a list of Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise 2022 by Euclid Network. Evolena is a speaker on circular economy and system change.
FinSMEs: Hi Evoléna, can you tell us a bit more about yourself? What’s your background?
My parents were very socially active and politically engaged and always encouraged me to stand for what I believe is right. For me, that was equality, justice, peace, art and environmental protection. At 12, they showed me “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary about climate change from Al Gore. It pushed me to act, and so I got elected to the kids’ city council, to advocate for more action toward sustainability. I stayed active throughout my student life – volunteering, demonstrating and advocating for positive change at various levels. After obtaining my master’s in communications and EU studies, I could have entered the “EU bubble” in Brussels, but I was curious to understand the other side, the side of innovators. The ones who allow for massive social change in a much faster way than politics: startups. The best place to experience this was Berlin, so I moved there from Belgium, and I spent 5 years immersed in this amazing ecosystem helping tech ventures grow successfully.
During the pandemic, I felt a need to get back to more impact-driven initiatives. On the entrepreneurial side first by founding Solidartsy, a non-profit dedicated to coaching female artists in order to bridge the gender pay gap in the world of art. And on the political side as well by joiningGeneration Climate Europe, the largest coalition of youth-led networks on climate and environmental issues advocating at the European level as a climate activist.
Faircado was born in 2021 out of a personal problem. I had spent countless hours on second-hand platforms, frustrated about how time consuming and inconvenient it was to buy better. Around that same time, I learned that 9,023 smartphones and an entire garbage truck’s worth of clothing is thrown away every second. I couldn’t believe it. So I sat down with Ali Nezamolmaleki, a friend and colleague, now co-founder and CTO of Faircado, and we designed the solution. All second-hand offers in one place, with a great user experience.
FinSMEs: Let’s speak about Faircado. What is the market problem you want to solve? What is the real opportunity?
We surveyed millennials and Gen Zers around us and realized 75% of them would buy more second-hand if there was an easier solution for it. That meant three things. First: There is no more stigma around second-hand among younger generations. Second: The impact and business opportunity in this market is huge. Third: Tech is the answer. So we jumped right in to bring the second-hand market into the 21st century.
Faircado is the first AI-powered search and comparison platform for second-hand products, focusing on sustainability. To help every consumer buy better while saving time, money and CO2, we even went one step further. We just launched Faircado’s browser plugin: a second-hand shopping assistant that automatically finds the best second-hand deals for what you’re looking for online. Followed by the mission to reduce global waste, we want to shift the linear economy to a circular economy and make second-hand goods the first choice of consumers.
FinSMEs: How does it work? What are the main features?
It’s really simple. After downloading the free extension in one click on your preferred browser (currently available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge), Faircado activates automatically. Whenever a user searches for an item online, it pops up on a corner of the screen with the available second-hand options and redirects the user to the resale shop. We don’t collect personal data; we make money by getting a small share of the purchase price from our partners.
FinSMEs: What are the features differentiating the product from competitors?
Faircado is the only platform that uses AI. It helps integrate and sort millions of products every day and provide the most attractive buying options. The number of products and partners is growing each week. It is also the only platform that offers different product categories, with the aim to have all of them (electronics, books, clothes, but also furniture, design, kids’s stuff, jewelry, etc.) soon available. So, we can really say that Faircado aggregates and compares all second-hand products in one place. Furthermore, we offer an additional sales channel for resale shops, and they cut customer acquisition costs by collaborating with us.
FinSMEs: You just raised a new funding round. Please, tell us more about it.
We are happy to announce that we just raised €500,000 in a pre-seed round led by BackBone Ventures, with Earlybird, 4P Capital, Peak & Atomico’s Angel Programs, and other business angels. The funds will be spent to further product development and marketing as well as exploring new partnership opportunities in Europe. This is a great step for us.
FinSMEs: Can you share some numbers and achievements of your business?
We are proud to say that, only a year after founding, we have onboarded 35 of the biggest second-hand and refurbished platforms in Germany, including eBay, Rebuy, Back Market, Sellpy and Refurbed, gathering 4 million products (electronics, books and starting with fashion), allowing millions of people to get access to second-hand products without hassle. We have a great team with six full-time employees from six countries and perfect gender equity at all senior levels. Faircado is also a member of the Greentech Alliance and Leaders for Climate Action. We were selected for several awards and programs, such as Henkel’s Xathon 2022, Earlybird’s accelerator Vision Lab, Top 3 startups to watch in Europe by Dealroom and Startup Incubator in Berlin. We also collaborate with Everwave and collect 1 kg of waste from the world’s waters for each download of Faricado’s extension.
FinSMEs: What are your medium-term plans?
Our plan is to grow our user base, and keep on listening to their most pressing needs when it comes to the prioritization of our product expansion. We are considering the launch of a mobile app in 2023, as well as geographical expansion to neighboring countries of Germany. The one with the best waffles and chocolate in the world, especially!