With the Christmas time coming, we all start to think about this wonderful time of the year. We all want to make it perfect when it comes to the presents and the time spent with our families. But did you know that each year there are thousands of dry Christmas trees on the streets of Berlin? And what’s more, did you know that you can make Christmas at your home greener than ever?
WunderTree delivers potted Christmas trees to the citizens of Berlin & Potsdam. Families & businesses can use the Christmas trees to their heart’s content and send it back to WunderTree’s Christmas forest near Berlin, hence making a difference by fighting climate change.
Tell us about yourself and your team?
We are a Berlin-based venture that was launched in 2019 and brings cutting-edge e-commerce to an industry that’s traditionally been offline – Christmas trees. Our team of four consists of Andrew Green, co-founder, and father of the idea; Milan Hänsel, co-founder and forest expert; Jessamine Davis, logistics guru, and Jannika Aalto, in-house storyteller.
How many trees do we grow each year for Christmas just to dispose of them after the holidays are over?
In Berlin alone, it’s over 400,000, and in Germany over 30 million! It is such a waste if you think about it, and all often just for a couple of days during the Christmas holidays. We want to help people recreate their beloved Christmas tradition in a way they can feel good about – with less waste and less guilt.
How to plant a tree with Wundertree?
By getting one! All our WunderTrees are planted in a forest near Berlin alongside other native species, so we’re building mixed forests instead of monocultures. We can’t reveal the exact location of the forest as we don’t want to disturb the trees too much but can assure you that our in-house forester is making sure they are as happy and healthy as possible. You should also share WunderTree with friends, colleagues, neighbors, neighbors’ colleagues… We plant an extra native tree for each WunderTree purchased in 2020!
What is your most important measure of success?
Demand. Our pilot in 2019 sold out in two weeks, which really proved that people in Berlin want a more sustainable and more convenient Christmas tree option. This year we want to build on that and make WunderTree available to more people in Berlin and Potsdam. Ultimately, we want to get people to think about resources and waste, and start taking steps towards a circular economy and more sustainable ways of consuming.
We also want to challenge the business/e-commerce infrastructure to support a circular way of doing business. For instance, this year we noticed that while it was pretty easy to set up our online store to deliver the trees, similar infrastructure just isn’t in place for collecting them.
What made you start WunderTree?
The world is changing, and simply running after the next promotion or a bigger paycheck in previous careers just didn’t feel right anymore. We started the WunderTree around the question: could business be a force for good? We think it can, and it absolutely should. Now, we get to spend our time working on something that we truly believe makes a difference to people’s lives, and that’s really special.
Plus, being an entrepreneur is a bit like having multiple careers all at once – you’ve got to understand the business, marketing, product design, tech, people, you name it!
This flexibility is something that suits all our team members and keeps things interesting.
How can Wundertree scale?
At our core we are an e-commerce business, which means a lot of our digital operations are easily scalable. Physical operations are slightly more challenging, and there we’re looking into franchising models and working with local collaborators expanding around Germany. Those have great potential that allow us to expand to other cities in 2021. At the same time, going back to those 400,000 trees in Berlin alone, the local market is far from being saturated.
Where can Wundertree expand its business model? Perhaps recyclable Christmas sweaters? 😉
I think we’ll stay out of the textiles business for a bit longer! This question comes up often though, and this year we want to prove that the model really works and that there is a demand for it. We do have a few ideas for 2021 and beyond though. Christmas trees are a great start, but they aren’t enough, and eventually we want to find more ways to bring the idea of circularity and circular economy into people’s everyday lives.
What was the most entertaining delivery you did?
For our pilot last year, we wore Christmas jumpers and played Christmas music with our deliveries, which children (and also many adults) thought was, to quote a customer, ‘epic’. We did everything between two people, which meant we got to have personal contact with the customers, and had buns of steel afterwards. We were equally happy to see excited customers welcoming their trees as we were about houses with an elevator!
Who would you most like to deliver a tree to? How would you decorate it?
Andrew: Till Lindemann from Rammstein. I think he’d appreciate flamethrowers instead of candles, although fire safety might be an issue.
Jessamine: To the landlady at my favourite Eckkneipe: Halina at Gießkanne. She always puts up with my silliness and always goes out of her way to be a fantastic hostess. And I would decorate it with beer mats from all the local beers!
Milan: Joko Winterscheidt.
Jannika: Probably my parents. They’re up in Finland but must be our biggest brand advocates outside Germany. My mum is always in charge of the decorations, so it’s better to let her decorate. Christmas is meant to be a peaceful time after all.
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