A Sustainable Promise

Freiburg start-up WEtell offers green and fair mobile communications



In the future, starter kits will be available in selected supermarkets for the conclusion of contracts. Photo: WEtell

Freiburg, Nov 25, 2019

Today there are ecological and socially acceptable alternatives for almost every service. The new Freiburg company WEtell combines mobile communications with climate protection, data protection and transparency – and shows that sustainable awareness and economic success are not mutually exclusive. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is supporting the project with an EXIST business start-up grant.

Their products have names like “Mikrofon”, “Ultrakurz” or “Mittelwelle”, as entrepreneurs they set store by values such as climate protection, data protection and transparency: at the start of 2018 Andreas Schmucker, Alma Spribille and Dr. Nico Tucher founded the start-up WEtell. They met at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), and since summer 2019 they have had the support of an EXIST business start-up grant, which they receive via the Chair for Control and Integration of Grids at the University of Freiburg, which is held by Prof. Dr. Anke Weidlich. So far they have already sold 1,200 mobile comms vouchers and made more than 180,000 euros in advance sales. The young company is building cooperations with a regional green energy supplier, an organic supermarket chain and an ecological search engine. “We have one thing in common with our partners: our ethical and moral standards come before our interest in purely making a profit,” explains Schmucker.

Offers with added value

As a temporary solution, customers can sign up for deals that are currently still handled via another network provider. But after the launch at the start of 2020 contracts will be handled by WEtell. Anyone who wants to wait for the switch of provider can purchase vouchers from the online shop and use them at a later date. So far, the most popular of the four available packages is “Ultrakurz” with 300 free minutes, 100 texts and 1 gigabyte of data for 15 euros a month. In future, starter kits will be available for purchase in places like selected supermarkets.

In response to repeated demands for an extremely streamlined service, the start-up set up the “Mikrofon” rate, which comes without mobile data. “With our approach to sustainability we really want to reach people who avoid using smartphones,” Schmucker declares. In addition WEtell is developing a bonus voucher for customers who purchase the packages via partner companies. Customers can use these vouchers to contribute through their mobile contract to investment in sustainable endeavors such as tree-planting projects.

Customer satisfaction comes first

The company places great importance in being easy to reach, communicating on an equal footing, and finding constructive solutions, Schmucker says. Recently appointed, Nina Haak is responsible for direct customer service. From the start of 2020 two more people will join the service side and one more in marketing, which should have a positive effect on customer satisfaction. Customer data, real names and traffic data will be kept separately at WEtell and deleted as soon as possible. At the moment however the start-up still has to follow the structures of the network provider, which holds the data in a contractually-secured relationship. “We promise people that no data will be passed to third parties for analytical or commercial purposes. So we even go beyond what the law requires of us,” stresses Schmucker. For data protection reasons, WEtell decided against the market leaders for services such as customer relationship management tools, because their servers are usually in the USA. All data will be kept in the European Union or even in Germany.

New economy, new world

WEtell follows the “public good” economic model, which incorporates climate protection, fairness, data protection and transparency. This arose as a civil movement in Austria in 2010 and has already accredited renowned companies. The “public good” balance is determined amongst other things by the subcontractors used. Schmucker, Spribille and Tucher are only interested in cooperating with partners that also hold sustainability to be important. This attitude can also be seen in their fellow campaigners, who purely from conviction go well beyond what is necessary in order to build a sound economy. However these values aren’t just important to companies, Schmucker says, “Anyone who joins us is taking a step towards a different approach to the economy, towards a new world.”

The start-up will be launched on the market at the start of 2020: together with green electricity providers, the team is currently planning the construction of renewable energy plant, to offset emissions from their operations. WEtell has been entered in the trade register as a limited company since October 2019. The company is currently developing a marketing strategy with its partners. Over the coming years it plans to become a service provider, utilizing the services of a network provider. At the moment the team has about 450 active contracts, but in future it wants to connect at least 50,000 people. Popular awareness of sustainable concepts is growing enormously, says Schmucker. And WEtell wants to offer these people an alternative.

Patrick Siegert


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