Hinweise zum Einsatz der Google Suche
Personensuchezur unisono Personensuche
Veranstaltungssuchezur unisono Veranstaltungssuche
Katalog plus


During his bachelor's and master's studies at the University of Siegen, Philipp Pfeifer worked as a project manager in the automotive industry, leading teams of up to 30 employees. In his mid-20s, he and his wife Alexandra Pfeifer, who also studied business administration in Siegen, founded the young equestrian e-commerce brand kavalio.de: an online shop for professional horse, dog, and equestrian equipment.

How did you come up with the idea for kavalio.de? When was the official founding? Was there a business plan?

My wife Alexandra knew she wanted to do something with horses right after finishing her studies. In 2016, she founded the company. In 2017, I also quit my job as a project manager to work together with her on the company. We did a very good job of dividing tasks according to our respective strengths. Alexandra, as a rider, focused more on purchasing issues, while I focused more on e-commerce and digital marketing. We didn't have a business plan at the beginning. We decided to start without an investor. For us, there were very few restrictions, and we could develop freely. When we realized that we could achieve an interesting position in the market, we opted for external financing from the bank. With this step, rapid scaling became possible. During this phase, we increasingly dealt with planning scenarios. Today, planning for the next months, quarters, and years is our daily business, which we approach in a detailed and strategic manner.

When did you decide to start your own company? What was the decisive moment that led you to start?

We identified weaknesses in the competition at the time in 2016. We felt that the market, to some extent, was waiting for us. At that time, we felt the need to offer customers in equestrian sports greater added value than was usual. Today, the industry has changed significantly. We compete as a premium retailer with many other retailers and work daily to strengthen and expand our position.

What is the unique selling point of kavalio.de?

Definitely the closeness to customers and the way we interact with them. In addition to awards from ComputerBILD, we have received awards from Handelsblatt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, CHIP, Focus, and BILD. We also have several brands exclusively distributed and are expanding our position on our social media channels. We already have approximately 170,000 followers on Instagram alone. We recently started scaling our presence on TikTok as well. Currently, we have about 30,000 followers there. An important part is also our charity project "kavalio Helping Hearts". Sharing our success with those in need and those who urgently need help is the vision of our project "kavalio Helping Hearts". In addition to animal sanctuaries, we support other needy institutions dedicated to animal rescue.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in founding kavalio.de?

Certainly, financing growth was a core issue for us. We bootstrapped our company for a very long time. This means that we reinvested from our own cash flow or only worked with external bank financing, but did not sell shares to an investor. This is not a common path. Fortunately, we were able to establish ourselves very early in the market. Often, on the journey, the money runs out, and investors are brought in within the first few years. We were able to avoid this and position ourselves very well as entrepreneurs.

Did you take advantage of the founding support from the University of Siegen? Which support was particularly valuable for you?

We actually did not take advantage of any support. In the first 5 years, we never had consultants or anything like that. We were not aware of the various institutions in the Siegerland that support in such cases at that time. Presumably, however, support would have made some things faster and more efficient at certain points. Therefore, I can recommend to everyone to accept support after founding or to build and use the network early.

What advice do you have for young founders? What tips would you like to give?

One key to success was always to remain motivated and focused on the goal or vision of the company. There were always people in the immediate environment who interpreted progress differently or did not see it. Here it is important to focus on oneself or to create an environment that supports one's own progress and realistically reflects it.

What qualities should young founders bring in your opinion?

A very good quality in my opinion is if a founder is a kind of "generalist". Not focusing too deeply helps to avoid losing sight of certain areas. If the founder is not alone, it makes sense to balance out the characteristics/strengths or to relieve each other with the different focus. But above all, qualities such as determination, motivation, ambition, and perseverance are essential for founding.

Would you found again?

Anytime gladly. The advantage is that I would know exactly what to expect. I would do many things differently in advance and thus save resources in implementation. Currently, we are very focused on the "new founding" of brands within the company. The focus is on own brands for our shops. In addition, a few months ago, we founded the holding company Shinebright Ventures GmbH to be able to act very flexibly in the market. In the medium term, we will appear as an early-stage investor in the region.

What role do network partners and contacts play?

An incredibly important role! The first years we were very focused on the business. The network did not have a high priority at this stage. From my experience, every founder should pursue this more strongly from the beginning. In retrospect, I can judge this very well and am of the opinion that many challenges are much easier to solve with a good network. Meanwhile, I have a very large network, especially in the startup scene and in the venture capital sector. I use regular meetings in other cities to exchange ideas with the community.

What are your future plans?

We want to continue to scale strongly, hire more employees from the region, and exploit all potentials. Currently, we plan to grow to over 100 employees in less than 12 months. We started internationalization in 2022 and want to expand it significantly now. The vision of being the "largest and best German equestrian retailer" (especially for kavalio.de) still stands as a vision above all. In order to continue to be fast and reliable partners for all customers worldwide in the future, we will change our premises again in a few years. In the medium term, we want to significantly increase our space to be able to meet all requirements in the long term. Especially in the dog sector, we will expand our shop WOOF&WAG further. Meanwhile, we have become a multi-brand e-commerce company that meets today's challenges. We have created a platform and a structure that is very flexible and expandable. The basis for making the company one of the largest e-commerce companies in Germany is very good. For this, we need space for smart logistics and enough space to initiate creative processes.

This portrait is based on an interview with Philipp Pfeifer in November 2022 and was written by Tabea Nosbüsch.


Here for the startup's homepage.

Hinweise zum Einsatz der Google Suche