Interview with Andi be free

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Wireless chargers Interview with Andi be free

Published on 28.03.2023 by Derya Kilic, Digital Commerce Consultant, Swiss Post

There are very few companies that do what a certain Swiss start-up from the canton of Schwyz does. Andi be free takes on the world’s giants and is turning the electronics industry on its head. Jonas Wohler, Co-CEO of Andi be free, tells us how the company is breaking ground in online retail, and how it’s doing things differently to other companies on the market.

Jonas, if we’re being honest, there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for even more smartphone accessories considering how many there already are. So what inspired you to launch Andi be free? And what makes you stand out?

My business partner and myself always felt that charging cables are often unnecessary, and we quickly realized there must be an alternative solution. Wireless charging was already a thing, but still in its infancy. After a few months in development, our desktop charger with a magnetic holder and wireless charging mechanism was born. We faced all sorts of challenges along the way, especially as a small Swiss company, trying to make a name for ourselves on a market dominated by large US and Asian corporations. We wanted to prove that a Swiss company could compete and offer innovative products through its own e-commerce channel. 

Our main competitors on the market are large companies with more financial or human resources than us. How do you manage to hold your own in online retail?

Switzerland is all about innovation, and has always come up with great inventions. Some brands do offer charging solutions, but no independent Swiss brand like us. The majority of these brands are either American or Asian. “Swiss engineered” is still a major purchase criterion, both nationally and internationally. Swiss products are highly regarded simply because they’re long lasting and high quality. We also have the advantage of geographical proximity, and we can communicate directly with our customers, which is really appreciated. With our small team, we’re also able to respond quicker to customer requirements, and development is quicker too than for a lot of major corporations because our decision-making processes are leaner. These are just some of the many factors that give us an edge in online retail.

A strong presence is important in online retail, and strategic online marketing is critical to being successful. How do you go about achieving this? What areas do you focus on? 

Andi be free doesn’t just rely heavily on online channels when it comes to sales, but in its marketing too. Our sales are complemented by a reseller network, which conveys our message to the outside world. Using our online strategy, we try to attract as many customers as possible as a brand ambassador, which also benefits our reseller network. Our primary objective is achieving sustainable and healthy organic growth as we invest a lot of our available funds into product innovation, with improvements made through continuous customer feedback. 

You expanded your e-commerce to the international market a few weeks ago, with other countries to follow. What were the biggest challenges you faced when it came to internationalization in e-commerce? 

In addition to certain legal issues, logistics posed a real challenge. We decided against a warehouse in Germany, instead opting for a Swiss Post International solution. This means we’re able to supply customers in Germany directly from our Swiss warehouse. Seeing as we send dangerous goods with our power banks, we needed special authorization from German customs. After long negotiations, we were able to resolve all our problems, and Swiss Post International was incredibly supportive. 

Sustainability is a very important issue in online retail as well, especially when it comes to returns. How are you positioning yourself in this area, and how important is sustainability to you?

In our industry, I generally feel there’s still some catching up to do, for instance as far as the circular economy is concerned. But we shouldn’t wait for the heavyweights in the sector to lead the way, but should instead look at how we can do our own bit. The first thing we did was ensure our packaging is 100 percent compostable, with other measures to follow over the course of the year. 

Andi be free started coming up with new innovations at a very early stage. How can you keep up this spirit of innovation? 

The Andi be free mission is to bring the days of being out of battery to an end. We’re motivated when we see satisfied people using our products, and who, thanks to our innovation, no longer miss out on the key moments. This motivation is what drives our spirit of innovation. 

As a start-up, you no doubt had a lot to learn during the development process. Is there anything you would have done differently in retrospect? 

It’s easier to evaluate with the benefit of hindsight. If I had realized that many things would have taken a few weeks longer than planned, I would have brought forward certain projects.

What advice would you give to people starting out in online retail? 

Focus, perseverance and not losing sight of your goal are key factors to getting off to a flying start, to my mind. We did have some slightly rocky patches for sure, and success didn’t always come overnight. Our “trust the process” ethos did actually help us in these circumstances to keep a clear head and to stay focused on our goal.

Jonas Wohler

Jonas Wohler is Co-CEO and co-owner of Andi be free. He runs the company with his business partner and founder, Sascha Reinger. The former track and field athlete grew up by Lake Zurich, and began his professional career in the finance sector. Before his time with Andi be free, Jonas had already founded several online shops, including, an online shop for riding equipment.

Derya Kilic

Derya Kilic, Digital Commerce Consultant at Swiss Post, advises retailers on the conceptual development of their digital maturity.

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