Family Business with a Big Impact in E-Commerce
3/12/2024 Insights Women in the packaging industry Interview

Family Business with a Big Impact in E-Commerce

The TV show “Höhle der Löwen” paved the way: Michelle Reed and her partner Philip Bondulich are the founders of the start-up sendmepack. The 38-year-old company boss wants to push ahead with the digitalization of her reusable system this year.

Michelle Reed, sendmepack GmbH. Michelle Reed is co-founder and shareholder of sendmepack GmbH.

The two children are at nursery and Michelle Reed’s day at the office can begin. The Berlin native, who grew up in her second home state of Florida, never takes a break. “Since we founded sendmepack in 2021, we’ve been working around the clock”, says the 38-year-old start-up founder. “We” that are Michelle Reed and her partner Philip Bondulich. The two young entrepreneurs have developed a reusable system for disposable cartons in e-commerce that would otherwise have ended up in wastepaper. “We save these cartons”, says Reed. More than four billion parcels are sent in Germany every year – and the vast majority of them are thrown away afterwards, or at best end up in the recycling process. sendmepack works with large logistics partners to buy intact shipping packaging, which they then offer as a shipping alternative for companies under the sendmepack brand. The start-up literally picks up the outer packaging from logistics companies that would otherwise end up in the bin. They may be used, but they are as good as new. The boxes are given a reuse label including a QR code for tracking. From there, they are sent to online stores and mail order companies.

TV Show Gave a Push

Even before the couple had successfully found prominent investors such as Carsten Maschmeyer on the TV show “Höhle der Löwen” two years ago, the order inquiries were already coming in faster than expected, Reed explains in an interview with FACHPACK360°. “All of a sudden, a large electronics company called and asked if we could supply half a million boxes. Of course we couldn’t. But the request was so encouraging and the positive reactions from the industry spurred us on”, says the media economist, who used to run her own accessories label.

Refurbishing for Major Brands

For large brands and retailers such as Outfittery, sendmepack offers a licensing model that refurbishes customer boxes so that they can be reused. Their employees are on site as service providers in returns management for online retailers. On average, a parcel can be used three to five times; the aim is to achieve a higher circulation rate. Edge protection, for example, could still be optimized, Reed adds in passing. Even though she knows a lot about brands and marketing, she is familiar with every technical detail. Figures also play a major role, such as the high level of external investment, the many orders, and the life cycle assessments. The company, which now has ten employees, uses a specially produced dashboard to calculate the CO2 savings that customers achieve with the alternative shipping boxes. It is now possible to say exactly how much CO2 each online store saves by switching to sendmepack.

Each of the start-up’s refurbished boxes is given a sticker with a QR code and its own name. The QR code allows customers to see which cities their parcel has already been to and how much carbon dioxide has been saved by reusing it. The start-up wants to further expand digitalization this year. “Sustainability is not about profitability”, says Reed. She now has 450 online stores as customers, all of which focus on efficiency and good logistic.

Proprietary Cartons in Circulation

Recently, sendmepack has added another pillar to its portfolio and is producing its own cardboard packaging – with Thimm Verpackungen as its industrial partner. These new cartons are digitally printed with the aforementioned QR code. Customers are given access to their own dashboard, enabling them to gain insights into CO2 savings, but also to find out where the cartons are currently located or how often they are reused, among other things. “We can achieve cost savings of up to 70 percent in closed loops with high return rates”, says Reed. The CFOS and management teams are particularly pleased about this, as the economic dimension is also important in addition to the sustainability aspect.

“We were ahead of the times. Reusable systems are on the rise. The quotas are still too low, but demand will grow. A genuine circular economy only works if it makes sense economically”, says Reed. As a spokesperson for the company and as a woman in a “male-dominated industry”, she is now also a sought-after speaker on topics relating to green marketing, new work, and the circular economy. “Every woman who is not visible is a missing role model. We need more female role models at the top of the packaging industry”, says Reed.

Sendmepack is also an exhibitor at FACHPACK24.