Expert Collections containing LuckaBox
Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.
LuckaBox is included in 1 Expert Collection, including Supply Chain & Logistics Tech.
Supply Chain & Logistics Tech
Companies offering technology-driven solutions that serve the supply chain & logistics space (e.g. shipping, inventory mgmt, last mile, trucking).
Latest LuckaBox News
Mar 1, 2023
01.03.2023 06:00, Morgane Ghilardi Statistically, a startup is much more likely to fold than to survive. Yet, when Aike Festini had to shut down her startup LuckaBox in 2022, she felt there was a lack of honest discourse about how to navigate the ups and downs of the startup journey. Wishing to remedy this, she has been proactive about sharing her experience in the hopes of helping others who dare tread the path of entrepreneurship. There are many aphorisms about human failure: To err is human, but to insist on repeating one's mistakes is foolish, according to Cicero, if not downright diabolical, as Seneca thought. In the startup sphere, where failure is the rule rather than the exception, making sense of the convergence of circumstances and errors that stand in the way of a venture's success seems particularly important. Conversations about failure—what it means, what it entails, and how it can and should be handled—are becoming more prevalent in the startup ecosystem. The motivation is not so much the glorification of recklessness or the stigmatization of defeat, but the value of introspection. In an environment that is all about optimization and disruption, such discourses represent the startup ecosystem's effort to optimize itself by disrupting barriers of silence. SPEAKING UP Arguably, a higher degree of honesty and introspection can only benefit founders and startup culture at large in the face of the complex issues that arise when fighting not only for the survival but the success of a new venture. The desire to challenge these hurdles was also the spirit at the Fail Night , hosted by the Impact Hub Bern in October 2022. One of the guest speakers was Aike Festini, an Innosuisse Start-up Coach , Venture Partner at Privilège Ventures , and the co-founder and former CEO of LuckaBox Logistics, which shut down operations in early 2022. Founded in 2017, LuckaBox was on a mission to solve the last-mile problem in logistics by connecting retail customers with delivery services in real time with its proprietary algorithms. The startup's potential was clear to industry experts and investors: the company earned a spot among the TOP 100 Swiss Startups while attracting big names like Ikea, Migros, Decathlon, and Jelmoli. When the pandemic began, and lockdown measures shifted retail consumers' behavior toward delivery, circumstances favored LuckaBox's business model. Yet in 2019, the startup had seen the potential to branch out and grow in another niche: the logistics of e-scooter rentals, which is a market with staggering growth potential, particularly in Europe. That is when difficulties started to arise on new fronts, affecting the startup's valuation and in turn, its ability to acquire more funding, the pressure mounted to unbearable levels, both in economic and human terms. Then, about one year ago, Festini had to announce that the startup had reached the end of the road . Since then, Festini has made it a point to speak out about the rewards and pitfalls of startup life. She has been vocal about what it means to shoulder responsibility for and pressure from investors, customers, and employees, and what it means to be accountable. In her reflections about how events unfolded and why she demonstrates a strong desire to not only honestly analyze and learn from failures and successes but also to make her experiences valuable to others. Wanting to pay it forward, she Rebels With A Cause with LuckaBox co-founder Maite Mihm, a startup and SME consulting service for startup founders. In a recent conversation with Festini, we discussed what she took away from the experience at LuckaBox, what other founders should be mindful of, and where this journey has led her. RISK AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE WILD WEST Looking back, Festini admits that it became clear quite quickly that getting into the e-scooter business was a risky decision. "At the very beginning, when we started with the e-scooter providers, we instinctively knew that the path we were on was way too fast, way too crazy, and that it is too young a market," she recalls. "We knew we were headed for the Wild West, and we felt it every day." From the outside, one could argue that it seemed like a reasonable decision to get in on what was the fastest-growing market in the world. And Festini sees that side of it as well: "The decision to go with it could have been the perfect one as well. It was a gamble." What she underlines, however, is that taking risks requires accountability, which she says was one of the fundamental values at LuckaBox. Her belief in answering for one’s decisions is obvious, though, as she does not just point the finger at the volatility of the new endeavor she and her co-founder took on. "We did what we could to somehow make up for the loss, or the damage, that we created, but we never quite could,” she says honestly. “It wasn’t the only error we made; I think we made some mistakes on the combination of investors we took on, some of the board members." A pivotal aspect of accountability that matters greatly when developing a business is governance. "I think a lot of the governance topics in the early stages were neglected or we weren’t fully aware of the impact of those choices, the investor and board selections," she explains. "And then always ended up tidying up some mess it created. It feels like, looking back, we were always tidying up messes." "Integrity is what makes or breaks you as a company. And if the founders value this very much, that's the kind of people they attract as the team." Playing catch up and seeing how things could have been done better also had benefits, she notes. "That's also why we matured as a team, especially the core team. We matured to a very high level towards the end. I wish we had that level of maturity in the beginning because then we would have written a completely different story." Looking back on everything, especially when connecting with former team members, Festini sees how much they all learned. Despite everything, she appreciates what she gained: "It was an amazing journey." To Festini, accountability was an integral part of her startup’s culture. As she considers why that is, it becomes clear that it is very much rooted in the character of its founders. "Maybe it's because it’s my personality, and Maite’s personality as well," she muses. "I think we’re both very—I don’t want to say serious—but we both value integrity very much. Integrity was part of our mission statement, next to passion and fun. Integrity is what makes or breaks you as a company. And if the founders value this very much, that’s the kind of people they attract as the team." TRUST, RESILIENCE—AND KNOWING WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH What leadership means, and how it affects the ethos and success of any endeavor continues to be a topic that seems both very simple and very fraught. Asked whether there are any innate or learned qualities that make someone a particularly good leader in the startup world, Festini is slightly hesitant and considers the questions from several perspectives. The first is the power of persuasion—and its foundation in trust—within the team that one has built. "Leadership is about motivation and excitement and a true belief in a mission that is contagious," she asserts. "That is also why many good leaders are very good salespeople: they have a way of winning people for their cause. I think that’s what leadership is about. Of course, trust within a team is vital, and trusting that people show up to give their best, which is something that I think many leaders don't get and start criticizing. I think when people show up for anything, they do so because they want to give their best because that’s what we all want to do." In her experience, a team that has their leaders' trust works better, as people are ready to help each other, too. When it comes to blaming or scapegoating—shifting responsibility—Festini takes a firm stance. "Those are things that were not allowed at our company,” she declared. "When I hear a leader blame someone else for something, I think maybe look inwards first. Don't go there." Another quality that will help any founder is resilience. Festini contends that it's a trait that has much to do with a person's background and the events that shaped them. Having thick skin, picking yourself up when you fall, persisting—these are traits that can only help someone who's taking the risk of starting their own venture. Although she warns that there's a flip side to this: "There's this element of not giving up that some founders have to a fault—to a dangerous level—so that it just becomes about not giving up, and not about whether it makes sense to continue." Knowing and admitting that it's time to call it quits is, of course, a very relevant part of Festini's story. It is precisely that experience that shapes her views on what success and failure really mean. "It's been almost a year since we closed the company, and when I look back, the feeling that we failed is much less dominant than the sense that it was a very sensible decision not to further the mess that it was at the very end," she contemplates. Even if there had been a way to shut down operations only to build the company up again—Festini believes that at that moment, using logic and reason was the only way to make a sensible decision. "I was at the end of my wits. I feel like I really tried everything, our board tried everything, and our support network, which was amazing at the time; we really exhausted all possible options." Festini also considers the last-ditch effort to sell the company, which failed when the buyer was revealed to be suffering from a cash crunch themselves (and was insolvent six months later), as a telling moment that reflects a difficult aspect of the startup world. Had the fire sale gone through, it could have meant a successful exit story, even if it had been a bad deal. "It showed me how thin the line is between what the startup economy or scene celebrates as a success or condemns as a failure," she says. The way the venture ended demonstrates that the values that guided the startup's leadership from the beginning also shaped how ended. Declaring insolvency was a decisive, reasonable, and difficult step. Yet as she tells it, Festini reflects the dutifulness of a captain navigating the sinking ship into a safe harbor. Even in this process, care and integrity are obviously integral to the founder. "The person at the insolvency office at the time said it was one of the most perfect insolvency processes she had ever seen," she notes. "All books were in order, everybody was let go, everybody was informed, all customers were operationally shut down." As she rightly notes herself, that is a success in itself. LuckaBox won the first European Supply Chain Start-Up Contest in 2018 AUTHENTICITY AND #REALTALK But what it is that the startup ecosystem deems a success or a failure has a lot to do with the stories that are and are not told—as well as the language that is used, and the values it embraces. “I love being an Innosuisse coach because we get to be real. I really want to give participants a platform where they can be real." Something that was particularly difficult for Festini, if not intolerable, was the lack of honesty that comes with being in constant pitch mode. "I was hardly ever authentic anymore," she says. "I was always name-dropping, be it big clients or big investors, or supporters. And I would hardly ever say that we had a bad month. Just the lack of truth for me almost became unbearable. I was missing times when I could just be myself." The pressure to curate an image of her startup and its leadership to meet the expectations within startup culture takes a toll. For Festini and her partner—in life and business—thinking about how they needed to present themselves was an exhausting non-stop effort. That is why she cherishes the opportunities she now has to be very honest. "I love being an Innosuisse coach because we get to be real. I really want to give participants a platform where they can be real." Festini argues that showing what really happens behind the scenes, especially in the press, would help. She herself is also aiming to contribute to a change in discourse: Her experience, as well as the lack of access to real stories, motivated her to start working on a book. "There are two or three books in the world that help you navigate all this. And there are a few books on being a female founder, but it feels like feel-good material," she laments. "What I was lacking is real talk, real insights. And that’s not about being a female founder at all. It's about being on this journey, navigating this cult, finding your role in that. The book is about the very real challenges we faced." She also sees the book as a way to advocate for authenticity as well as mindfulness with regard to partnerships with investors and clients. Being discerning about who to bring into one’s venture was one of the big lessons she took away from her experience, Festini asserts. She also sees a positive trend in terms of honest discourses in the startup world. "What I really like seeing currently is a movement or an awareness of the dangers to mental health," she says. "That wasn't the case even one year ago." A venture's growth is not sustainable if the people at the helm are not doing well, Festini points out. "I mean, would you give funds to a person who has a burnout?" she asked; yet the reality is that even if people are burnt out, the pressure to keep going—to keep raising funds—is very high. Creating an environment and culture that makes sure that the risks of such pressure are mitigated can only have benefits. DAMNED IF YOU DON'T The founder's desire to make a positive contribution to the culture in the startup world is obvious. Rather than discouraging her, her experience seems to have put her passion for entrepreneurship in sharp relief. "I still love entrepreneurship," she affirms. "I love building things. I love that people want to build things, and they should never stop. It's just about learning how to better navigate the system, the journey, the challenges. And for that it takes some truth from some people who have gone through it." When she recently joined Privilège Ventures as a Venture Partner , she assumed a role that allows her to guide the trajectory of many young ventures. "Some people criticized me openly about being critical about the startup scene and then taking this role," Festini admits. "For me it's an opportunity to have an impact. And it's Privilège Ventures because the way I've experienced them during my time at LuckaBox." She developed a warm relationship with Privilège Ventures (PV) over the years, which came close to investing in the startup twice, she explains, and became part of her support system; she was able to count on their input and mentorship, especially when things got hard. In addition, she notes that PV is very strong in leading rounds, which is something that is often lacking. "We need to even the playing field somehow." So, when PV approached Festini to build the female-led startups fund at PV, she was in. Targeted support for female founders is a difficult topic. "As a founder, I never thought about what it’s like to be a female founder. I always hated that question, 'what’s it like to be a female founder? '; I don’t know, what’s it like to be a male founder? It's a stupid question," she says with a laugh. "But many of the startups I coach now do have female founders. They feel drawn to me, and they're often struggling more than male founders in raising funds." Mutual understanding of challenges that are unique to women's experiences in the startup world can be a boon to both parties. Nevertheless, there is always lingering ambivalence about the effects of highlighting the role of gender. "Do we help them by having gender-specific funds, or do we damage them down the road? It's almost agonizing. But something needs to be done. You know when they started with the female quotas for top management positions—is that stupid? Does it hurt women?" Yet the conclusion she and many others have come to is simple: "We need to even the playing field somehow. And a fund focusing on female founders isn't charity. We only look at outstanding female-led startups. It's a sorely needed platform." Categories
LuckaBox Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When was LuckaBox founded?
LuckaBox was founded in 2017.
Where is LuckaBox's headquarters?
LuckaBox's headquarters is located at Katharina-Sulzer-Platz 10, Winterthur.
What is LuckaBox's latest funding round?
LuckaBox's latest funding round is Seed VC - II.
How much did LuckaBox raise?
LuckaBox raised a total of $140K.
Who are the investors of LuckaBox?
Investors of LuckaBox include Swiss ICT Investor Club, Alpana Ventures, DAA Capital, Bettina Hein, Kickstart Accelerator and 3 more.