Crowdfox is a Cologne-based B2B and B2C e-commerce platform which officially launched in 2015. So far, the young company was able to raise about €10 million in venture capital. The shopping site Crowdfox enables merchants to sell for free and members can buy every product they desire for the best price. If members combine their power with the Crowdfox crowd-shopping-option, they will get even more discount on the already low prices. Over 6.5 million items including smart watches, PCs, smartphones as well home related items and beauty products are currently listed on the platform.
This week we talked to Crowdfox founder and CEO Wolfgang Lang to learn more about the company’s past and future plans.
How did you come up with the idea for Crowdfox and how did it all start?
My long-time work experience in the trading sector has been the starting point of Crowdfox. First thought I had was to build a “purchase community”, where people join forces to get the best products getting fair prices. That’s exactly how our name Crowdfox was developed: “Crowd” stands of course for the people who join together and “fox” describes the cleverness of the crowd, buying online and acting as one. Our second pillar – and the more scaling one – is our B2B platform Crowdfox Business. During my work experience I realized many times that all companies I did business with had to solve the same problem: The purchasing department needed a trustworthy partner to complete all purchase procedures. Especially the online purchasing process is still horrific and overcomplicated. So Crowdfox accepted the challenge to make it easier!
What were the main stumbling blocks in the first year after founding Crowdfox and how did you overcome them?
Let’s say the whole development period (first two years) were very intense. Building the algorithms in the backend was an ambitious task for our developers, because it was something completely new. Not the development itself – but the platform with our secret sauce “dynamic pricing”. Another thing we didn’t take enough into consideration has been the communication around our business model. We were already growing and the platform was scaling fast. There was a time where we needed to hire so many employees – processes and structures have been lagging behind. But from my perspective and experience this happens to all fast growing startups. Today we are doing a pretty good job.
How would you explain Crowdfox to someone who never heard of it before and what is the advantage for its customers?
Imagine you enter a shop. The shop is located right around your corner with only one counter, where a helpful and likeable salesperson serves you. This salesperson is able to offer you whatever you want for a low-cost price. It’s possible, because he has a huge “storage” in his background, which is millions of square meter big. Tens of thousands of staff members are taking care of meeting the demands of private customers and companies right in time – no matter if chairs, tools or smartphones.
What is Crowdfox’ unique value proposition and what sets it apart from its competitors?
I think it’s the mixture of a few parameter: Our one-creditor-model, the wide range of offered products and our unique data driven system. Especially the algorithms in our system are highly advanced: merchants are able to check the price trend or price development of products in real time.
You just closed a series a funding round – how is the collaboration with your leading Investor, the TAKKT Beteiligungsgesellschaft?
It’s truly amazing and we are very proud to have TAKKT as our investor. The fact, that precisely this company is the lead investor, confirms our belief in the business model. TAKKT has a deep knowledge of the B2B market – the investments are strengthening Crowdfox in a particular way.
What is your experience with Cologne as a location to start and scale a tech company?
Cologne is simply perfect for a few reasons. Primarily we have an exceptional networking within the city. Another and a more important reason is being geographically connected to the Ruhr area, where a large number of companies have their headquarters located.
What are the upcoming milestones for Crowdfox, are there any plans to expand outside of Germany?
Within the next two weeks we will be able to offer invoice payment to our B2B customers, which is not as easy as for B2C customers. One milestone in general is for sure to grow further and scale the platform. And of course we are thinking about expansion plans – but there is nothing to announce here at the moment.