Since we last interviewed Hult International Business School alumni Peter Windischhofer and Kilian Kaminski, cofounders with Jürgen Riedl of the sustainability-forward online marketplace refurbed, their company has only grown in stature. The Austrian-based firm now has close to 300 employees and recently secured an impressive $57 million in Series C funding. We spoke with them about their success.

Congratulations on refurbed’s new funding round. What do you think it means that a sustainable-focused business like yours was able to raise money in such a conservative funding climate?

We are incredibly proud of our latest funding round. In this climate specifically, we believe that it not only means the funding scene is “back,” but also that it’s changing. More and more businesses with an impact focus are closing rounds, and we are proud to be a frontrunner in the space. Our scalable business model has successfully shown that demand is growing from consumers as well as investors, and we are excited for the journey ahead.

Since refurbed was founded in 2017, we have been on a mission to make a tangible, measurable difference in the way we all consume. And growing the way we have over the past seven years, it is evident that we are on exactly the right path. The numbers show it, too: our recent research with Fraunhofer Research GmbH proves that our circular business model enables consumers to purchase more sustainable alternatives, which has amounted to 160.000t CO2, 35 bn l of water, and 505 t of e-waste saved.

refurbed takes an international approach, from the diverse makeup of your team to the expansive reach of your business. How did studying and learning at Hult help shape this approach?

Our journey, both at Hult and after, has definitely changed the way we look at the world. Innovation is everywhere, and so is talent. Studying and being part of a network that not only is highly skilled but also incredibly international—and gaining all the valuable experiences of being in global cities due to our studies—has introduced us to amazing people, cultures, and more.

One of our core values at refurbed is being a remote-first company, which means that our team is spread across Europe, and we get to hire talent based on their fit for our company, passion for our vision, and skills – not by location. This was one of the values we learned to appreciate even more during our time at Hult.

What is unique about the refurbed business model?

It’s hard to choose just one aspect. One of the core things that has contributed to our success is the unique combination of offering more sustainable shopping alternatives that also are cheaper than their conventional counterpart, which for most other consumer goods is not the case. Additionally, our business model is scalable: we have added products, categories, approaches – from B2C to B2B and B2G – and have grown from offering smartphones and laptops to adding coffee machines and vacuum cleaners. And all of this has been done in a lean, efficient way. Thanks to the business model and, of course, the best team!

Since we last spoke, what have been some of your biggest learnings?

Besides the usual business learnings that all founders have, we would actually share two things that are slightly different and, we think, unique.

The first is our successful remote-first approach. We were able to test our hypothesis of remote work being feasible and successful, building a team of almost 300 people that live across Europe and work fully remote. We then come together three times a year in our office in Vienna for our so-called “office week.” Implementing this has been a huge successful learning for us as a company.

An additional learning – more specifically, a vision that we have developed – is proving a new definition of business success: moving away from measuring only profit and growth to also looking holistically at the positive impact a business can generate with its work and business model.

How else has your Hult education informed your strategy for growing refurbed, and your approach to entrepreneurialism in general?

One thing we learned and that we appreciate a lot today is the global mindset that Hult has instilled in us. Cross-border thinking, planning, and envisioning has enabled us to be a truly global business – and with this, we’ve expanded successfully to seven European markets.

It’s also reflected in the diverse background of our team, which we learned to appreciate early on. I [Kilian] distinctly remember learning about stereotypes during my studies – and we now employ a team of more than 40 different nationalities who work together perfectly and collaborate as one, with one joint mission. So, our experience at Hult and everything we learned during that time and since then has definitely helped.

Lastly, the practical learnings we got as part of the Hult curriculum have helped us develop the right “business mindset” – and with the business we’ve built, I would say that was quite a good learning.

What advice do you have for other Hult alumni who hope to start their own businesses?

It sounds like a rather cliche answer but believe in yourself and your idea. We fully believe that our success stems from the fact that we wholeheartedly believe in what we do, which is why we get to be so passionate about it and bring that passion to the work.

You can build an ideal team if you embody your business’s mission. And even if you meet people who are less excited about it, you can move on and find those who are. Take courage, be bold, have a voice, stand for something and stand up for what you believe in. The latter is a core part of refurbed now: we advocate even on a legislative level for the changes we want to see in the world!

Finally, how did it feel to see the refurbed name on the Nasdaq screen in Times Square when you closed the round in November [2023]?

The short answer: incredible. We were really excited to close our Series-C in the first place, for all the reasons explained before. It was a true milestone for us, as it is the biggest funding round we have closed, and also a milestone for the fundraising community and for mission-driven businesses. When Nasdaq approached us to congratulate us on the round, we were absolutely thrilled – and we celebrated with the whole team during our most recent office week!