Nikki Anderssen and Mohan Ramadoss, the co-founders of Repair Circle, have a passion for the circular economy. Heck, they even met at a Circular Economy Hackathon organised by Impact Hub Berlin. Little wonder, then, that they decided to go into business together.
Repair Circle is the kind of pilot project we wish we’d see more of. At heart is a very simple concept: connect people who need to fix something with shops that offer repairs.
Users simply fill in a form on Repair Circle’s website, which then procures quotes and connects them with repair shops. It can also arrange for drop-off and delivery, Uber-style.
For users, it adds an extra layer of validation beyond what might, otherwise, be done with a Google search. For repair shops, it adds credibility to their services and puts them in front of customers.
As for the environment? Well, the environment says “Vielen dank”.
Repair Circle is launching at a paradoxical time. On the one hand, too many goods are sent to landfills for lack of options to repair, with many of their precious materials lost forever. Meanwhile, we continue to damage the environment in pursuit of those same materials we send to landfill. Regular TF contributor, Lee Grant, wrote about it in his piece about a recently discovered lithium mine in the USA.
On the other hand, the timing couldn’t be better. In March, the EU announced new consumer rights meant to make repairs more accessible, which is encouraging for those, like Repair Circle, trying to put circular economy solutions in motion.
I had a brief chat with Mohan at IFA 2023. Below is a transcript, edited for clarity.
Give me the two-minute pitch. What’s Repair Circle?
It all started when I broke my smartphone in Berlin and couldn’t find a repair shop convenient enough or cheap enough for me (on a student income) to fix it. I come from India, where it’s always cheaper and cheaper to fix things. Berlin being a super hub and a tech ecosystem made me wonder why that was the case.
That made me want to build a platform that connected people to local repair shops and also gave them information they couldn’t find elsewhere online. If you have something to fix you come to our site, fill out a form, and we give you three options to compare based on price, proximity, whether you have a warranty, and how long it takes to fix. Then you can either go to the repair shop by yourself (whichever is closer to your home) or we can help you with drop-off and delivery.
In addition, we also fix headphones, vacuum cleaners and other appliances, which more often than not have very small issues which can be fixed. Yet people just throw things away — I want to bring back a repair culture.
So is Repair Circle a business or a passion project? How do you generate revenue?
It’s really early stages. Co-founder Nikki and I met at a hackathon in Berlin. So far we’ve been funded by the Berlin Berliner Startup Stipendium programme. Right now, we are essentially boot-strapped. We are testing our operations [with a pilot service in Berlin] and trying out different things to make them profitable.
We wish Nikki and Mojan the best of luck with their venture. And if you live in Berlin, make sure you visit Repair Circle when something breaks! In the meantime, read more about sustainable tech and IFA 2023.
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