Home » DHDL startup Sendmepack files for bankruptcy – that’s what happened

DHDL startup Sendmepack files for bankruptcy – that’s what happened

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DHDL startup Sendmepack files for bankruptcy – that’s what happened

With Carsten Maschmeyer, Judith Williams and Dagmar Wöhrl behind us, the conditions were good for the recycling startup in 2022. Now the end is imminent because another investor is standing in the way.

The founders Michelle Reed and Philip Bondulich recently had to file for bankruptcy for their logistics startup Sendmepack. Sendmepack, Getty Images / Mihail Minea / 500px | Collage: Dominik Schmitt

Over four billion parcels are sent in Germany every year. At the same time, the EU is condemning the manufacturers more sustainability in packaging. The founders Michelle Reed and Philip Bondulich wanted to take advantage of this development. Now your logistics startup Sendmepack could be on the verge of collapse. The founders just had to file for bankruptcy for their company. The founding couple became known when they presented their “precycling” concept on the TV show “The Lions’ Den” (DHDL) – and secured a deal.

Sendmepack refreshes used shipping boxes, sells them on to retailers and thus reduces cardboard waste. The founders had well-known investors behind them: Carsten Maschmeyer, Judith Williams and Dagmar Wöhrl. But not only this: a strategic investor was also part of the group of shareholders. The founders cite a promised payment that was not made as the reason for the impending insolvency.

Three months ago, Reed and Bondulich completed their third round of financing with a strategic investor. The cash flow initially seemed to be secured via a high six-figure convertible loan that was to be paid out in three steps. A tranche of this went into the startup’s account – the last money for the time being, as it turned out.

“Due to an unexpected default by one of our existing investors, we no longer have any reason to believe that the outstanding payment will still be made,” Reed tells Gründerszene. “We have therefore filed a preliminary insolvency application.†The founder further explains: “To clarify, we would like to emphasize that this investor is not one of the lions.†œ

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Thomas Kühn from the Berlin law firm Brinkmann & Partner was appointed as the provisional insolvency administrator. When asked, he indicated disagreements between the founders and the existing investor in question: “There are different opinions among the shareholders as to whether certain milestones for further financing have been reached or not. I don’t want to evaluate it or comment further at this point. In any case, the necessary further financing was not provided, so that the managing director had to file for insolvency.“

The founding couple denies that there were any problems making their company profitable. The year 2024 started “promisingly,” says Reed. According to its own statements, the startup has so far cooperated with a total of 450 online shops, including Outfittery, the football club 1. FC Nürnberg and the fair fashion retailer Avocadostore, and four permanent logistics partners.

Sendmepack founders should step down as managing directors

As several sources from the company’s environment have confirmed, the strategic investor is said to have tried to force the two founders out of their own company. The payment of the convertible loan is said to have been linked to high demands. The founders were required to both withdraw from operational business, relinquish their CEO positions and transfer shares to the investor. Reed and Bondulich did not want to comment on this when asked.

One thing is certain: the founder Reed resigned from her position as managing director in August 2023, as can be seen from an entry in the commercial register. Since then, partner Bondulich has been the sole CEO. The investor against whom the allegations are directed has so far left a request from Gründerszene unanswered.

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According to the commercial register, the strategic investor currently owns 13 percent of the startup’s shares. The investors Judith Williams and Dagmar Wöhrl each own 9.7 percent. Carsten Maschmeyer, who added more money between the first and second round of financing, owns around 11 percent. Originally, the shares between the lions were evenly distributed at eleven percent each after participating in the DHDL. The founders received a financial injection of 200,000 euros.

Lions are dismayed, founders want to move on

The DHDL investors are affected by the bankruptcy filing. “Sendmepack had an idea of ​​how the vast amounts of packaging waste that is generated every day could be reused. It is very unfortunate that Sendmepack had to file for bankruptcy,” said Maschmeyer. “Judith, Dagmar, I and subsequently other investors were happy to support this vision.” Wöhrl and Williams unanimously declared that they had “worked intensively on the business model” with the founders To have been “confident” of being successful with the various solution approaches in the packaging industry. “A strong investor from this industry was available not only with significant financial resources, but also with valuable know-how,” the statement says.

Nevertheless, the investors also mention problems with implementation in the market: “The established process flows in the packaging industry, in logistics and in large shipping companies and the resulting long sales cycles posed a major challenge.”

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Reed and Bondulich do not want to let themselves be defeated despite the economic difficulties. “We are confident that we can continue to run Sendmepack successfully after restructuring, as the demand for our licensing model is extremely high,” says the founder.

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Insolvency administrator to potential investors: “There are interested parties”.

Their “precycling” concept includes using a gentle process to remove adhesive strips from used boxes, clean them and prepare them so that they look like new. Finally, the cardboard boxes are given a sticker that allows consumers to use a QR code to track which cities the package has already been in circulation. The recycled packages are then sold via their online shop to retailers who use them to send their orders. After use, end users can also return the packages to return stations throughout Germany in order to further extend the material cycle.

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The plan is for operations to continue as usual. The jobs of the four employees that the startup employs are to be retained. According to lawyer Kühn, the salaries should be secured through pre-financing of insolvency money.

The founders, who had not expected the acute risk of bankruptcy, have a few goals for this year. For example, the couple wants to introduce a dashboard to track customers’ carbon emissions. They also want to concentrate on producing their own reusable cardboard boxes from corrugated cardboard. In the future, the two hope to gain competitive advantages. “We therefore immediately started actively looking for new investors,” says Reed. Until then, you have to hold on. Insolvency administrator Kühn is confident: “There are interested parties with whom discussions will begin soon.”

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