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Coffee Circle

Coffee Circle
Coffee Circle - Circle Products GmbH
Founded by Martin Elwert, Robert Rudnick and Moritz Waldstein-Wartenberg
Founded in 2010
Fair Trade Coffee E-Commerce
Located in Berlin
Robert Rudnick graduated from the University of Mannheim in 2005 with a diploma in Business Administration. He and Coffee Circle have been active at the StartUp Homecoming.

Startup Characteristics

Coffee Circle was founded in July 2010 and focuses on sustainably providing high-quality specialty coffee to its customers. The Startup stands for a unique coffee experience: Hand-picked Ethiopian gourmet coffees, high-class gear and social projects in Ethiopia all go hand in hand. The Coffee Circle team believes in fair trade and transparency and therefore aims at combining coffee quality and aroma with a maximum social impact: For every kilogram coffee sold, Coffee Circle invests one Euro in development projects which they implement together with the coffee farmers in Ethiopia. Further, the team directly communicates and works with the farmers who cultivate its specialty coffees in Ethiopia. Its projects focus on education, health and coffee agriculture in order to sustainably change the living conditions of its farmers. Furthermore, Coffee Circle also also offers high-quality coffee equipment from innovative and stylish brands to resellers and customers. Coffee Circle considers itself as a pioneer due to having an innovative and holistic trade concept: It focuses on its customers and the Ethiopian farmers at the same time.  

Personal Characteristics

The Startup was founded by Martin Elwert, Robert Rudnick and Moritz Waldstein-Wartenberg. The three founders formerly worked together at the consulting company Roland Berger and therefore knew each other before starting their venture. Robert Rudnick graduated from the University of Mannheim in 2005 with a diploma in Business Administration and has previously worked on consultancy projects for Roland Berger all over Europe and in the Middle East. At Coffee Circle he is responsible for sales, (online) marketing and the development of the website. He has been able to gain a great lot of skills and experience in these areas during the last four years. Robert actually started looking for a viable opportunity to become an entrepreneur in 2009, because he wanted to work independently with a high level of intrinsic motivation. In 2009 he and two friends then volunteered at building an orphanage for girls in Ethiopia's capital Addis Abeba and came up with the idea for their new business. During their stay in Ethiopia, they got in touch with Ethiopian coffee, the trade possibilities given by globalization and the paradox of organized development aid. Hence, their aim was to unite high-quality Ethiopian coffee, exclusive coffee equipment and the vision of fair trade - the solution was founding Coffee Circle. 

Business Development and Challenges

After the three friends made the decision to found Coffee Circle, they moved from Munich to Berlin in order to get started properly. In the early stages, the three of them and an intern did all the logistics, marketing, customer service and all kinds of day-to-day business themselves. With an increasing number of bookings and an enlarged product portfolio, the Startup needed more office space and especially warehouse space and inevitably had to hire more people. Therefore, it moved to its current office in Kreuzberg where about 20 employees and interns work for Coffee Circle at the moment. The founders are currently planning to set up its own roastery and showroom in Berlin, in order to be able to roast the coffee beans themselves. Further, they want to enter the Swiss coffee market and strengthen Coffee Circle's position in the B2B sector. This year, the Startup successfully took the '3-years-hurdle' and its long-term objective is to establish a direct, precise and transparent trade model and grow it across borders and categories.

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  • University of Mannheim
  • Institut für Mittelstandsforschung
  • Gründerverbund
  • ESF
  • Europäische Union
  • Baden-Württemberg - Ministerium für Finanzen und Wirtschaft
  • Absolventum