Today, we want to introduce you to a company from Germany that committed itself to the mission of establishing climate protection, data protection, fairness and transparency in the mobile communications sector. How that fits together, you ask? You’ll learn that in this interview with Andreas, one of the co-founders of WEtell.
But first things first: When we at iodé heard about WEtell, we knew immediately that we should collaborate. A company that commits itself to the same values, i.e. climate protection and data protection? One that offers mobile communication services, while we are developing an operating system and sell smartphones? So we contacted the kind people over at WEtell and soon got to know each other in our first call. Then, a few weeks ago, we got to present our project in an interview for WEtell’s Spotlight. Now it’s time to shine the light on WEtell and their story. Let’s go!
About Andreas Schmucker
Andreas Schmucker is one of the three managing directors at WEtell. He leads the marketing and sales departments and is thus responsible for WEtell‘s „growth engine“. He takes care of cooperations with other sustainable businesses like the energy provider Polarstern and Prokon or the smartphone manufacturers Shift GmbH and Fairphone B. V.. On top of that, he is the driving force behind everything that represents WEtell externally. From brand building to communication and company values – Andreas is deeply involved.
With WEtell he wants to show that working for the common good and profit-oriented work can go hand in hand. The family man draws from his experience as a self-employed consultant for renewable energies and from his time at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energysystems in Freiburg where he worked in Research and Development.
With an academic background in microsystems engineering, he got to know his co-founders at Ingenieur*innen ohne Grenzen e.V. (Engineers Without Borders), where he engaged as the leader of the regional group in Freiburg.
How did you come up with the idea of founding WETell?
The idea is older already. It first came up in 2008. Back then, I started using sustainable products in my life. But there were no alternatives in the mobile communications services. That bothered me, but I had to neglect that for a while. It was only when I decided with Alma and Nico that we wanted to do something entrepreneurial in the Green Economy sector, that we digged up the topic again: The idea to reach a lot of people with a mass product und thus help form the change fascinated us. Through many conversations and considerations on how the service product mobile communication could be more climate-friendly, we developed our main focus points. These are especially climate protection, data protection, fairness and transparency.
With WEtell, a sustainable mobile communications offer, we can reach people directly. We offer an alternative in this industry, which is long overdue and we show that modern, digital services can be implemented in a way that our grandchildren can also benefit from them. That‘s why we are here and it‘s amazing to see what we‘ve accomplished so far.
All of you have a background in science and engineering. What made you want to start in the telecommunications industry?
We actually have a scientific background and come from the area of research about renewable energies at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energysystems.
What drives us is the question „How can we fix climate change?“. From a purely technological perspective, we‘re ultra far. The problem is that we don‘t make the shift out of societal, structural and political reasons.
To be able to change something here, we need long levers at other places. One of those levers are attractive and affordable products and services, that manage to reach the heart of society. Right now, there are about 153 Million active SIM cards in Germany. Which product is more suitable as a vehicle for climate-neutral economic activity and to foster the expansion of renewable energies?
What made you combine the topics data protection, environmental protection and mobile communication?
Of course we put a lot of thought into this and debated what constitutes sustainable mobile communications. We quickly realized that we have this unique opportunity to build the mobile communications offer the way we always wanted it to be. Climate-neutral, terminable on a monthly basis, upgrades to the tariff, with FAIRstärker, best service, no reselling of personal data and a lot more. These were all wishes we‘ve had ourselves for a long time.
How are you different from other mobile communication providers in Germany in terms of data protection?
Let‘s start with the easy stuff. All core data of our customers are stored in GDPR-certified servers in Germany. That way, we can ensure that sensible data is protected against scanning or other external access.
Then again, data protection is a broad, detailed and difficult to oversee field. You people from iodé know what I‘m talking about. What matters here is the attitude. At WEtell, that‘s „data protection first“ instead of „profits first“.
Our Homepage doesn‘t use any Google tools. The app that we‘re currently developing won‘t have any trackers. That may sound trivial to a lot of people but there‘s apps out there that have a double-digit number of trackers built in and websites, that send user data to a three-digit number of companies. In reality, a lot of services that market themselves as free are actually being paid for their user‘s data.
Our carrier, Vodafone, has consumption data of our users, i.e. which number calls another number, where and when. We are not interested in the majority of that data and we don‘t make requests for it. We do have personal data for accounting, like the address or IBAN. But the carrier doesn‘t need that data and doesn‘t get it from us. That way, we can ensure that important customer data is separated.
The deletion period of different data is very relevant. We discuss with our partners on a regular basis how we can achieve the deletion of as much data as possible in a timely manner. We don‘t want to sell the data in any form, so we are glad to get rid of it.
You are a Social Purpose Company. What exactly does that mean?
Yes, true. This end of June, WEtell transformed with the Purpose Foundation into Purpose-Ownership. That is a huge step towards a sustainable economy. In a value-based company like ours, it‘s a lot about trust. With the step towards Purpose-Ownership, WEtell forever is connected inseparably to it‘s values. WEtell can never be sold, no profits can be taken out of the company and crucial decisions can only be made by WEtell‘s employees. So for example, no one can enrich oneself personally at the expense of WEtell. That creates more than just trust for our customers, because now, our integrity is legally binding.
Which future plans do you have that you can tell us and our readers about?
Yes, we have a lot of ideas. Some are crazy ideas, others are more concrete. We‘re thinking about green DSL, 5G tariffs and sustainable smartphones. At the end of the day, we only decide on the implementation once we‘re sure that our core values can be realized precisely and consequently.
In the long run, we want to establish as much of our DNA as possible in the market. Monthly terminability and tariff upgrades for existing customers should be standard. Not only in the mobile communications space but also for DSL. That‘s what we‘re working on daily and we obviously won‘t stop.
And here is some space for everything you‘ve ever wanted to say or write 😉
Fire at will! Well, I think that true transformation, true innovation comes from the ground up, from the grassroots. Not only in a democracy but also in the economy. If you want to participate, you need a voice that is being heard. Small companies are usually much better at that and are more self-aware. They give more attention to their customers.
Customers of mobile communication services in Germany are used to long contract durations, bad service and annoying marketing calls. At WEtell, we do all of that better, more customer-friendly and climate-neutral. With iodéOS, you develop a great product for people that want more freedom and participation than they get from Google. In most areas there‘s more alternatives coming up and advancements are being made. That gives me courage and hope and I believe we‘re on a good way, even if the news sometimes portray a different story.
Thank you Andreas and thanks to the nice team over at WEtell for these insights. Let’s drive the change together!