Is fair Schoen safe to use

Build smartphones sustainably

Smartphones are our constant companions. As soon as the latest model comes onto the market, the old device usually ends up in a drawer. SHIFT founder Samuel Waldeck is critical of this wasteful use and advocates more sustainability in the smartphone business. You can find out exactly what that looks like and why the company was almost about to end in this founder story.

FounderDaily: Hello Samuel. Shift produces sustainable smartphones. To what extent can a smartphone even be sustainable?

Samuel from Shift: Hello. We achieve sustainability, for example, through our modular design concept. SHIFTPHONES are easy to open and inexpensive to repair. Everyone can change the battery themselves, renew the display, change the camera module and much more. This enables us to ensure that our devices stay with the owner for as long as possible and do not have to be replaced with a new one every two years just because the battery is weak or the display is cracked, in line with the current average.

With concepts such as our device deposit, the hardware upgrade option and other innovative ideas, we try to counteract the high volume of electronic waste, avoid packaging waste and also do good in other areas without causing any damage.

GründerDaily: You just mentioned the modular design of the SHIFTPHONES, with which your smartphones can be repaired independently in order to increase the lifespan of the devices. How exactly does it work?

Samuel from Shift: The SHIFT6m is currently the most modular smartphone in the world. It consists of many modules that can be replaced by the customer himself.

It was designed according to repair statistics.

Accordingly, the components with the highest degree of wear or the highest susceptibility to defects can be replaced as quickly as possible. The back cover can be removed without tools, as can the battery. SIM and SD cards are also immediately accessible. The display is attached with several screws. All screws built into the SHIFTPHONE are of the same length and can be operated with the enclosed Torx screwdriver.

GründerDaily: How long do you support the smartphones with updates etc.? And what happens as soon as this support stops?

Samuel from Shift: We would like to provide our SHIFTPHONES with software updates and security patches for at least a period of five years. Longer if possible. However, it depends on many factors. For example, we rely on processor manufacturers to deliver software updates for the processors we use, which is not always the case over longer periods of time. The costs associated with software updates also play a decisive role. If one of our device series comes to the point that further support cannot be guaranteed, we always have the option of a hardware upgrade. Here we determine the value of the current device, buy it back and thus offer the option of changing to a more up-to-date SHIFTPHONE.

This is also very sustainable, as we can fully integrate old devices into the cycle again. Thanks to the modularity, we can differentiate the individual components and allow all raw materials to flow back into production.

GründerDaily: You deliberately do not write the catchphrase “fairness” on your banners, instead it says “100% Love”. Why?

Samuel from Shift: Yes that's right.

In our first impact report, it was important to us to state that it is currently not possible to manufacture a 100 percent fair smartphone.

However, this is no justification for burying your head in the sand, it simply means that a lot of research, patience, influence and contact work are required in order to pursue the goal of a fair technology product as best as possible. Our current impact report shows that we have already achieved a great deal in recent years.

We define ourselves very much through the term “appreciation”. It is important to us to approach customers, employees, partners and, of course, our environment in a respectful, mindful and considerate manner.

This is what we mean when we speak of 100 percent LOVE. Not to forget, of course, the minimalist and simply beautiful design of our devices.

FounderDaily: You describe Shift as a "social business". What do you mean with that?

Samuel from Shift: We call ourselves a 100 percent social business. As such, we do not operate in a profit or profit-oriented manner, but live the maximization of meaning. This includes, for example, that we as managing directors do not pay off any profits.

In addition, our top salaries are a maximum of three times the lowest salary. And these top salaries are not filled by the management, but by employees who - due to their family situation, for example - have to cope with a higher livelihood.

Instead, profits are passed on to other sustainable or social projects or flow into the new developments of our own concept ideas. This can be underlined, for example, with our membership in the Economy for the Common Good and the desired certification for the common good.

GründerDaily: You already have several successful crowdfunding campaigns behind you. Why do you rely on crowdfunding?

Samuel from Shift: It is very important to us to be completely free in the development of our devices and to make decisions in our interests or in the interests of our supporters, crowdfunders, supporters and pre-orderers. It is true that through investors and financiers we could possibly produce larger quantities, have more devices in stock and thus guarantee faster delivery times. But we would also expose ourselves to liabilities that probably do not always leave us free and that would also pose a risk to the existence of our company.

We have already sold over 35,000 devices. We feel obliged to these many customers. We would like to be available to you in the future and not endanger our company by being financially dependent on major investors.

FounderDaily: You founded the company together with your brother and your father. How did this idea come about in the first place?

Samuel from Shift: We actually ended up in smartphone development by chance. Originally, we wanted to manufacture a reference monitor for our iCrane camera crane at the time. Through various detours, blockades, new beginnings, “remote-controlled” events, we were suddenly confronted with the smartphone issue and things took their course.

GründerDaily: What are the advantages and disadvantages of founding a company with family members?

Samuel from Shift: A decisive advantage: our diversity. A possible disadvantage: our differences.

It is really nice that we have different talents and that we can complement each other so well as a result. But differences can of course also lead to differences of opinion or points of contention. But as brothers we are essentially tried and tested in fighting these out in a targeted manner.

GründerDaily: What have been the biggest challenges you have had to overcome so far?

Samuel from Shift: At the beginning almost every situation poses a challenge. We had to slowly feel our way to moving large financial budgets, hiring the right employees, and finding the right partners - especially in Asia.

An event in 2012 was a real challenge. Plans and funds for the first production cycle of the SHIFT7, the first SHIFTPHONE at the time, were fixed. Carsten traveled to China after the crowdfunding project was completed and the contracts with the production company were signed. Actually only for a final prototype acceptance and to accompany the first production.

When Carsten was then in China, the partner said he was sorry, but a larger order had come in. He is no longer interested in producing for us in such small numbers.

Understandably, Carsten was quite frustrated at the time and was about to give up the SHIFT project. He had four days to find a new partner, because his return flight to Germany was booked for then. Actually a hopeless endeavor.

About very strange and extraordinary coincidences - we like to speak of a real miracle here - everything turned out for the better and in a short time we found a new partner for the production of our first devices.

GründerDaily: What's next with Shift? What are your goals for the coming years?

Samuel from Shift: We are currently looking forward to the publication of the SHIFT6mq, which we want to establish on the market at the end of 2019 / beginning of 2020. It will be the first Qualcomm SHIFTPHONE and already provides a crucial basis for our upcoming SHIFTmu project.

As a highly developed smartphone, the SHIFTmu will represent the heart of the personal digital environment of its owner. Long battery life, the latest wireless standards, the most powerful processors and seamlessly usable operating systems provide the substance of a full-fledged computer. The smartphone is supplemented by components such as tablet screen, keyboard or monitor, which can communicate with the smartphone via radio or a hub.

We assume that in the future the smartphone will no longer just guarantee accessibility on the go, but will also be able to control the productive desktop environment, the evening tablet couch feeling and other digital areas of our everyday life.

We call the whole thing 'Universal Computing' and create the first universal computing device with the SHIFTmu.

FounderDaily: Samuel, thank you for this interview. We wish you continued success!

Key facts about Shift

  • Founded in the year: 2014
  • Headquarters in: Falkenberg
  • Our current team consists of: 20 employees
  • The first funding was provided by / via: Crowdfunding (startnext)
  • So far, the following have helped me / us in particular: The loyal community.
  • The following are particularly important for me / us in everyday work:
    • People: Our employees in China and Germany
    • Tools: Various communication and collaboration tools.
  • Contact

  • Samuel Waldeck
  • SHIFT GmbH
    Am Gänsemarkt 6
    34590 Wabern Falkenberg
  • +49 (0)5683 2379900
  • [email protected]

Tags:CrowdfinancingFairSustainabilitySocial EntrepreneurshipTech Startups