One of Munich’s Startups with a rising population and a brilliant idea is ad:acta. The idea of making bags out of old ring binders became a growing business for it’s founders Carsten Fichtel and Tobias Förtsch. The idea is not just good looking and has a fashion aspect, it’s also because of the recycling aspect the two guys have their success with it. So, of cause we had a few questions to them.
munichFWD: What is your Startup about?
Our StartUp is about a bag label called ad:acta. A bag collection made of old ring binders. What makes ad:acta so unique are its three main features: recycling, fine materials, and passion for detail. Each ring binder is carefully selected, cleaned from its metal rings, and coated against any weather and water. Afterwards, the binder will be stitched up with real leather in true German craftsmenship, and lined with durable fabric. Both, the original binder back, and the individual marble pattern on its outside make every ad:acta one of a kind. Each bag is made in Bavaria.
munichFWD: How did you come up with this special idea?
We had this idea about 3 years ago while sorting some papers and documents from one folder to another and some of them to the garbage. So we questioned ourselves, what happen to all the empty folders in big companies after they digitize all the old files. And the first association of the empty file folder was a classic messenger bag. Due to the fact that bags from recycled material was up to date we decided 2 years later to try it.
munichFWD: Was it difficult for you to get it started? How long did it take you?
Of course it was hard to start. We founded a design company about 4 month before we started to built the bag collection and our first idea for a product for our design company was actually something totally different. But during a normal lunch time we decided to try the bag idea. We borrowed a sewing machine, collected some old textiles and fabrics and tried to built the first prototype. Without any knowledge of sewing or fabric manufacturing.But we built a quite good looking prototype and decided to go further. After a few weeks of developing we received some help from a friend. With his experience in stitching and working with leather he helped us a lot to built a really professional prototype.
With this model we searched for a sewing workshop in germany to make a final example. From our first prototyp till the first professional made ad:acta bag it took about 7 month. We developed about 9 different types of design and now each bag is manufactured in a small leather workshop in north Bavaria. The next big step was to create a online platform and webshop for the bags. We did all by ourselves and it took some time to set this up.
munichFWD: What would you say was the most interesting thing you learned since you came up with your idea?
Due to the fact that we did everything by ourselves we learned things which are absolutely not in our business. As a product designer and a engineer we had to learn a bit of everything. Marketing, account stuff, web coding, shaking hands and being determined and focused. Maybe the most interesting thing was the fact that something you create as a simple idea can work. Just try it.
munichFWD: Was there any point where you said “I’m going to give up”?
Sure. We had this feeling all the time. We said to ourselves : “Who the hell is gonna buy bags from used file folders, why should anyone do this?” And if you think of all the money you spend to realize such a project you often scream STOP!
munichFWD: How did you get so successful with your product? (There were some great TV appearances like on Galileo; how did they took the notice?)
In the beginning we did a lot of promotion on Facebook and with emails to different blogs and print magazines. By accident we had the chance to present the idea at the creative nite in munich. There we met a editor from Galileo and he asked us to make a short story about it. After the broadcast the feedback was huge and we received a lot of orders, comments and contacts. Since then we have a wide network of resellers, onlineshops and also a lot of people wearing an ad:acta :)
munichFWD: Do you have any advice for other startups you would like to share?
Get in touch with many people, talk about your idea an don’t be shy of telling it to professionals. A lot of start ups are afraid of that some else will steal the idea. But usually you will get help to develop your idea because others do have their own business. And don’t care too much about what others think. If you think it could work, do it !
There is a statement that kept us working. ” EXPECT THE BEST, BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST, FUCK WHAT OTHERS THINK & DO YOUR OWN THING ”
ad:acta is the work of the team behind the design agency casitoo-design