Just a few months ago, Wummelkiste opened its first US office in New York with a lot of PR hullabaloo. Now, according to information from VentureVillage’s sister magazine Gründerszene, it looks like the US business is being shut down. The last Facebook comment on the Wummelbox page (the name of the company in the US) was posted two months ago.
Reading the comments on the Facebook site, it’s quite easy to determine why Wummelkiste’s internationalisation didn’t work so well – the importation and certification requirements demanded by the US were enough to put the brakes on the business. One Wummelkiste box containing goods produced in Europe can’t easily be sent to New York or Los Angeles, which made scaling difficult.
“I am super frustrated Wummelbox!” one user declared on 6 June. She paid for a box in April and still hadn’t received it when she commented. The company response? “It has proven quite difficult to import seeds from Europe into the US.” Since then all has been still on the Facebook site.
When Gründerszene asked founder Philippa Pauen about the shut down she said that despite good feedback in the US, the business decided to “place focus more on Germany again”. In the US the company worked with freelancers for logistics and PR, the rest of the team was relocated from Berlin. Now, Wummelkiste wants to use these capacities to develop a new product palette, which would make it easier to send boxes to the US.
In the past year, the Team Europe-launched startup received €800,000 funding from Blumberg Capital and other investors. In Germany, Wummelkiste faces competition from Berlin startup Tollabox. The children’s toybox distributor has, to date, received €600,000 via crowdfunding on Seedmatch. Freshly launched Exploribox also offers a subscription model for children, sending packages with scientific information.
Translated by Michelle Kuepper
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