The concept of zirb. is based on bringing nature back into modern everyday life with room ventilators made of pine wood. The zirb. Room ventilators filter dust particles and dirt from the air and neutralize unpleasant odors.
The zirb. business model is based on a combination of basic product sales (room ventilators ) and refill elements that are difficult to imitate. What distinguishes zirb. from the classic Razor Blade model is the price ratio between the basic product and the refill product. Compared to the Nespresso model, the basic product of zirb., i.e. the room fan, is considerably more expensive than the coffee machine, whereas the refill elements, i.e. the zirb. oil, are again relatively cheaper than the coffee.
CEO, Benedikt Handler, adds: "We have herefore redesigned the Razor Blade model somewhat, because this was the only way we were able to finance the operational business in the first few years."They had a positive balance in the initial stage of sales with relatively high production costs, customer care and acquisition combined with the income from the follow-up purchase with comparatively low acquisition and support costs. This model enabled them to cover costs in the first phase (production costs, development, customer acquisition). At the same time, they were able to customize the necessary customer lifetime value in the medium term, which they need for a healthy medium-term company development.
Benedikt Handler, Managing Director of zirb., studied International Business & Management at MCI and was ready to answer a few questions on the subject of founding a company:
What made you decide to begin your own start-up & would you do it again?
Far too often you hear things like: "you should do that sometime", "this would be a good idea", etc. We were exactly at that point too and decided to give it a try this time. On the one hand, we recognized the gap in the market for interior scent/olfactory design, because this was and still is mostly done for the eye only - despite the fact that we are optically overstimulated anyway, while the sense of smell is completely neglected. On the other hand, the boom that pine wood has experienced has given us a good springboard into market niche. In addition, the timing during our studies was also very decisive, because none of us had to give up a job or provide for a family. We were students and the opportunity costs were therefore very low.
What was the biggest challenge?
I see the biggest challenge as developing a concept into an actual product including a functioning supply chain. Embedding the product in a functioning business model and later developing a product range from the individual product are the necessary subsequent steps. The same applies to the team behind it. The development from the "day one spirit" of the founders with their almost never-ending willingness to work and "I do everything mentality" to a functioning and regulated team with distributed responsibilities and competencies was also a great challenge. In summary, one could say that the challenge for us was to turn an idea into a solid company, i.e. to implement it. This is generally somewhat underestimated, as there is a lot of talk about the competition for ideas, but little about how well they are then implemented. You can make a mediocre idea very successful with very good implementation, while an excellent idea with only mediocre implementation never gets the attention it deserves.
What do you think is the most important characteristic of a successful entrepreneur?
Besides the basics, motivation and relevant skills, I see the most important qualities of a founder in his resilience and focus on the goal, regardless of the circumstances. It will be difficult, unpredictable and exhausting for sure and yet, with very little assurance of success. You have to be able to deal with this in order to be able to enjoy the many beautiful aspects of being an entrepreneur.
zirb. creates a feel-good atmosphere and a unique, natural scent in your home and workplace. Photo: zirb.
zirb. CEO Benedikt Handler studied International Business & Management at MCI. Photo: zirb.
MCI Management Center Innsbruck Entrepreneurship Video Zirb