February 07th 2022

uptraded – BIG NEWS

MCI alumna Anna Greil – founder of uptraded – is the winner of the largest competition in the field of social entrepreneurship in Austria – the Coca Cola Get Active Social Business Award.

Anna Greil is a graduate of the Bachelor program Business & Management of the Entrepreneurial School®. Already last December she reached the first place at the aws First Pitch Night 2021 and now she could win the Coca Cola Get Active Social Business Award.

Thomas Stöckl, head of the Business & Management bachelor program, talked to Anna.

  • How did the idea to found uptraded come about?

The idea was born on the beach in Portugal. During the semester abroad in Lisbon, my fellow students Lauran and Bruno were tinkering with a business idea for an entrepreneurship course. After studying the secondhand industry in depth for about three months, they ended up with the business concept "Second Brand", which was the first fashion label for "rebranded" secondhand clothing. They liked the idea but had found out in interviews with secondhand stores that it would be difficult to scale. During a surf session two weeks before the deadline, they decided to scrap everything they had worked on up to that point. On the same day, they created "Tradl", a swipe & match platform for secondhand clothing. After a successful final presentation and fantastic feedback, they were so motivated that they spontaneously decided to implement the idea.

Shortly after, Bruno called me and said that I would be the perfect "match" for the business idea. Still in my semester abroad in New Zealand myself and with an internship commitment for the coming year, I decided against the internship and joined the team. With fully charged batteries and a business idea in tow, we returned home from our semesters abroad and dedicated ourselves full-time to our next journey – the startup journey.

  • What is most important to you as an entrepreneur?

Impact, growth and fun – that's what matters most to me as an entrepreneur. During my studies at MCI, I wasn't even familiar with the term "impact entrepreneurship." But now I can say that I never want to work in any other field again. It's super important to me that my company contributes to a better world, and that's also what motivates me in the long run. Also at uptraded, or especially at uptraded, the impact thought is the most important thing for me. Until three years ago, I was part of the problem myself. In the meantime, I feel obliged to solve the problem of the fashion industry. I am convinced that collaborative fashion consumption has enormous potential for us as individuals and for our environment. We are also pursuing this vision of "making fashion sustainable together" at uptraded.

I'm a very inquisitive person and that's why it's important for me to grow personally in entrepreneurship as well. During my time at uptraded, there were endless situations where I had to step out of my comfort zone. In hindsight, these were the best moments in the last two years. Growing personally and also seeing the team and the startup grow was and is a true fulfillment for me.

Lastly, it is also important for me to have fun in entrepreneurship. According to one statistic, nine out of ten startups fail. So looking at that likelihood of success, I think it's super important that above all, the journey is fun.

  • To what extent did your studies in Business & Management help you set up for uptraded? Did your studies prepare you for self-employment?

My Business & Management studies at MCI definitely helped me set uptraded. First of all, through MCI I met my two co-founders who made this journey possible in the first place. Bruno, in particular, had a significant impact on my personal growth and my "preparation for self-employment."

Of course, MCI also prepared me professionally. The Business & Management degree program is very broad and you get a good insight into very many areas of business. It was precisely this ability to work as an all-rounder that was extremely helpful to me in building uptraded. Through my studies, it was possible to simultaneously lead marketing, manage finances, hire new people, represent the company to the outside world, and so on. Also, the countless group work sessions and presentations at MCI definitely had their effect.

  • What were the biggest challenges on your way to self-employment?

On my way to self-employment, there were honestly – according to my subjective perception – few really big challenges. I was lucky enough to have incredibly great people on my team from the very beginning, so every challenge we faced was only a minimal hurdle for us. Without challenges, it would be boring.

In my opinion, everything stands and falls with the team. My team supported me from the very beginning to find the courage to use my strengths, to keep up the motivation and to have fun with the whole thing. Now, in hindsight, I would say that the biggest challenge in a startup is not how to get funding or attract customers, but how to find the perfect team. The team is the fundamental factor. I think all challenges can be overcome if you have a really good team.

  • Do you have any advice for our students who are now thinking about founding a startup?

Just do it! Don't think about it too long, just try it out. The degree program offers the perfect framework to try your hand at a first startup project. You still have the support of the MCI in the background, you have fewer obligations as a student (financially, etc.) or you may even still be living at home. You can't start entrepreneurship early enough and that's why I think the perfect time to start is during your studies at the latest.

Other tips to make the start easier: Get fellow students to help you – it's much easier in a team and apply for support programs (e.g.: Startup.Tirol Innc Program etc.).

  • Was it difficult to get funding or support for your project? / How did you get the Coca Cola Get Active Social Business Award?

At the beginning it seemed very difficult for me to get funding or support. But if you work your way up step by step, it's not so difficult anymore. We also started very small with support of a few hundred or thousand euros and were then able to secure larger financing over time.

When you fail, it's super important to just keep up with it, learn from it, accept the criticism and try again. The criticism is (almost) always justified and just points out blind spots that need to be thought through more. In our case, many things didn't work out the first time, but we never gave up, always incorporated the criticism, and as a result, the results can now be seen.

It was exactly the same with the Coca Cola Get Active Social Business Award. During the preparatory workshops for the award, we received pretty harsh criticism on many points of our idea. I think there were more than 15 pages of feedback that I took away from that workshop weekend. All the criticisms were discussed internally, re-evaluated and incorporated into the business model. Only because we took this feedback to heart and are generally always open to criticism, the business model of uptraded is now very coherent. With an excellent team, the right "learning attitude", a coherent (and sensible!) business model that requires extremely hard work and the right motivation, it is not too difficult to get funding and support.

In conversation, it has often come up how important my team is to me. Nevertheless, at this final point: A big thank you to my team, without you none of this would have been possible.

Dear Anna, thank you for the interview and good luck with uptraded!