Yes, Sebastian Welp knows that his idea doesn't sound incredibly spectacular at first. A stock box. Made of cardboard. However, Welp's not overly creatively named start-up Lagerkarton has already sold more than 1 million of them within half a year, including to Amazon's European company. The company has 850 customers in Germany and Europe. Why?

Maximilian Sachse

Editor in the economy

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The history of the storage box began in the tranquil town of Ahaus in Münsterland. Welp's father runs a family business that is active in textile printing and also operates its own warehouses for this purpose. The company has been looking for more sustainable storage options, Welp reports. "But there were actually only quite expensive and not particularly sustainable plastic crates." Normal cardboard boxes were not an alternative either, after all, they could not be stacked. So the trained media designer grabbed a cutter knife, cardboard and "started designing". Over time, the cartons have become more and more stable – right up to a prototype that the textile printing company had produced for its own needs by a large manufacturer. "When customers visited us, they constantly asked where they could get such storage boxes," says Welp.

Between 2014 and 2018, that was already the case. But after that, nothing happened. Through the textile printing company, Welp had contact with many Youtubers who had their fan products printed in Ahaus. When the opportunity arose for Welp to set up the Youtube channel for the rich celebrity family "Die Geissens", he took the chance to try something new. Later, Welp also worked as a producer for the television show, traveling around the globe with his camera – a "comfortable life", as he says. "But it tickled me to do something of my own."

Founding instead of Geissens

So he left the Geissens again in 2022 and started building up storage cardboard, which became part of his father's group of companies. "I already had everything ready in my head," says Welp. In the meantime, the textile printing company had already sold the boxes to "whining customers". Welp applied for patents and trademark rights, start-up capital was provided by the textile printing company and by advance payment from customers. Within 6 months, the start-up had become the market leader and was already working profitably. Welp is not impressed by possible competition. "Competitors first have to come up with the quantities, we get completely different prices."

Because the boxes are foldable, they take up less space during transport to the warehouse and can also be flexibly assembled and dismantled in the warehouse as required. Instead of three trucks for 1000 plastic boxes, 1000 of his boxes would only need half a truck. This is good for the climate. The boxes are durable. "In our warehouse in Ahaus, the boxes have been standing for eight years and are still holding." Welp believes that the production of his cartons is much more energy-efficient than that of plastic crates. This is not verifiable – but at least with customers, the promise seems to be well received. This could also be due to the price. A box costs only three euros. "A plastic box now costs around 18 euros."

Currently, 80 percent of the cartons are used for textiles. The remaining share is used for stationery or children's toys, for example. Next, Welp wants to win the retail trade as a customer, talks are underway with a large hardware store chain.

The start-up still has just 8 employees, and Welp still packs the samples for potential customers himself. By the end of the year, 25 employees are expected to work at Lagerkarton. In June, Welp flew to America at Amazon's invitation to take a look at two warehouses there. Amazon could imagine using the boxes in America as well. Then the cardboard boxes developed in Ahaus would soon be on the other side of the Atlantic.