Try to make it as easy as possible to adopt the idea

Repair Café waste reduction and waste prevention

Please introduce yourself and your startup Repair Café to our readers!
MP: My name is Martine Postma, and I am founder of the Repair Café Foundation

How did you get the idea to Repair Café?
MP: The idea came to me in 2009. At the time I was a journalist writing about sustainability. My special focus was waste reduction and waste prevention – that’s a theme that is close to my heart: I think it’s very important that the world population starts to produce less waste.

At a certain moment, I wanted to do more than write about it. I wanted to really try to change people’s behaviour in this respect. So I started to think about it: why do people throw away so much, why do we create so much waste? One of the reasons, I found, is that people no longer make repairs. Most of them don’t know how to do it anymore. So, when something breaks, they just don’t know what to do. It’s easier to buy a new product.

Now, from a sustainability point of view, this doesn’t make sense at all. So I wanted to change this. I wanted to make repair attractive once again. For this, I thought, It would have to be available around the corner, it would have to be cheaper than buying a new product, and it would have to be fun – people would have to want to go there, because it’s a nice place.

That’s when the idea of Repair Café came about. I know that in every community there are still some handy people – we all know such a person in our circle. I thought: if I bring these people together with the people who have broken items, then we can do something for the environment – we can repair the broken items – ánd we will do something for the community, we will bring neighbours together and let then connect. Ánd if it’s a volunteer activity, then it will be cheaper to go there than to buy a new product.

I tested this idea once, in Amsterdam. It became a huge success. That is when I realised that people liked it, and that I had to go on with this concept.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
MP: The start was not so hard. Everyone that I told about my plans, was enthusiastic and many people wanted to join in, just because they liked the idea.

Who is your target audience?
MP: Everyone who has broken objects and does not know how to repair those, is welcome at Repair Cafés!

What is the USP of your startup?
MP: I think there are several: for instance, that the Repair Café speaks to people for different reasons. Some like it because of the environmental aspect (repairing means that less items become waste), some like it because of the social aspect (the Repair Café brings people together). This means that the Repair Café concept has more chances to attract people.
Also, the necessary ingredients for a Repair Café (people with broken objects ánd people with repair skills) are available in every community, so the concept can work everywhere.

Thirdly, the Repair Café starter kit makes it very easy to get started. It tells you exactly what you need and where/how you can find this, so you don’t have to think everything up yourself. A lot of work has already been done for you.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
MP: Usually, I am in the office working at my computer. Recently I have spent much time for our new project the Repair Monitor. This is an online tool to enable Repair Café volunteers to monitor exactly what they repair: what kind of items are brought in, what is wrong with these items, what was needed to repair them… Via the Repair Monitor, we want to collect data on the reparability of the products in our everyday life. We want to use these data in the battle for more sustainable and better repairable products.

Where do you see yourself and your startup Repair Café in five years?
MP: I hope that in five years, there will be more Repair Cafés around the world. At this moment, there are over 1.300. It would be wonderful if there were several thousands in a couple of years. Also, I hope that by that time, manufacturers have started producing better repairable products, so that more products can successfully be repaired. This way, I hope that in five years the world will produce less waste and will be a better place to live in.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
1. Try to make sure that your idea is relevant to as many people as possible
2. Try to make it as easy as possible to adopt the idea
3. Try to be realistic and think ahead: what do you need to make your idea a success, and how are you going to find that?

Picture: Stichting Repair Café International an, sowie den Fotografen Martin Waalboer

More information you will find here

Thank you Martine Postma for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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