„Our aim for next year is to reach 50,000 users“ – Interview with the Danish start-up WeUse

In just one sentence, what is WeUse about?

WeUse is an application, which is made for housing associations to make it easier for them to share things, which they don’t use so often.

And what kind of things could that be?

Well, it can be a lot of different things of course, because you have a lot of things laying around in your home. You can probably already think of some. But one of the examples, we always use is a power drill. A power drill is in an average household used for only 13 minutes a year – and the production of each power drill causes around 28kg of CO2. This is one of the things, that people have laying around. And we have so much stuff: we also have board games, that people play twice and then you let them stand there and right now, you have all these people that bought these amazing Stand Up Paddle Board and I believe in a year a lot of people have them just stored and not used. There is all kinds of different materials out there, which people are just buying and use it only once or twice. And that’s a problem.

Soo…What was the weirdest thing that someone wanted to rent out through WeUse?

Haha, well, we did a big survey to find out what exactly people are interested in renting out and, thereby, found out that actually quite a few people were interested in renting out sex toys. I think was the most shocking thing. But I guess you can also do that.

That is quite weird indeed! And where did you get the idea for your company from?

Well, it actually started out being quite different. Our initial idea was to focus on food waste and that we are generating a lot of food waste, since people are travelling a lot. I travel a lot myself – or I did, before Corona – and then I often had a full fridge and half of it I couldn’t keep until I came back. Then I had to get rid of it. Then I thought about, how we can do something to maybe share that. But then we faced a lot of regulations within the food sectors and many people saw a lot of issues with it. However, then they started to talk about other things, they would like to share and I came up with the idea to maybe not share food, but all these items we have laying around at home. I realized there are some other players, who are doing that, but it is not really known in Denmark and Europe – so there is definitely a potential to go bigger. And that’s why we thought “Okay, let’s give it a go and see where it leads us!”

Can you briefly pinpoint how WeUse is making the current situation more sustainable?

Yes! Again, when we are talking about sustainability, it’s very important that WeUse is not the final solution. I don’t believe there is just one thing which makes our world completely sustainable. But WeUse is giving people the chance to in a very easy way to become more sustainable – in a way that everyone understands. Because we all get told “You have to buy this” or “You have to do this” to be sustainable. But with WeUse you don’t have to do anything. It’s just the things you already have, you just share them. It is very, very easy for people and it doesn’t need a big change in the way you are thinking or actually getting started. And here I think is the major difference: I don’t say that if everyone has WeUse we are going save the world, but we are going to make it better.

If you would spend a whole weekend with the WeUse team, how would that look like?

I think it would be a mixture of work – of course we always work a lot because that’s also what we are here for – but we also have a lot of fun. Typically, what we would do is having a barbecue, then we would have some kind of games, where we are just spending time together – and in generally it’s always just a lot of dark humour. All of us have a pretty dark humour, that’s what really keeps us going for most of the time.

And how did you search for funding for your project?

We are pretty privileged by being part of the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). They have these SDU “Entrepreneurial Labs”, which are supporting us quite well in terms of making sure that we apply for all the right things and they actually look them through. We have already applied for funding relating to Environmental issues, which we also got. We have received a bit above 50,000 DKK already. And we are of course keeping applying, Gideon, our business developer, is doing a lot of these applications. Another good thing about doing sustainable projects is that there is a lot of money out there and people, who want you to get involved and create better things for the environment. There is not really a need for going out and searching what we call “Old-fashioned-investors”. Because there is a lot of money that you can get by just applying different funds.

Is there any advice or experience that you would like to share with other start-ups, which are also just in the beginning of their project?

Well, there is a lot! I would say what is really important, is that people make sure that everyone, who is in the team, is motivated and that you know that these people will also stay. From my experience it’s all about that the people, who are working with you also have the willingness to do this and not a first if they have the skills. Because if they have the willingness, then they will also get the skills. If they have the skills but they don’t have the willingness, then it’s not going to work.

And where do you see WeUse in one year from here on?

Hard to say, but at the moment we have many interested housing association who are primarily located in the cities, where also the campuses of SDU are, because we have some great ways for marketing there. That means Odense, Kolding, Sønderborg, Slagelse, and Esbjerg. And hopefully after that we will able to also get into the bigger cities like Copenhagen and Arhus in regars of the housing associations. Our aim for next year is to reach 50,000 users.

That sounds great! Good luck with your goals and thank you for the interview!

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