February 14, 2017
These Viennese teens will crush Amazon using their moxie and bicycles
by Chad Felix
Look, as a grumpy late-twenty-something, I don’t really like teenagers very much. They really like tablets. Their shoes are cool and make me insecure about my shoes. Their muscles and bones work remarkably well (as opposed to surprisingly poorly). But Moritz Stephan, sixteen, and Konstantin Klinger, seventeen — these guys are pretty cool. Together, Stephan and Klinger make up Lobu, not a band that sounds like Calexico mixed with Tortoise (phew), as people my age might imagine, but a Vienna-based book delivery start-up that could take on Amazon, a Goliath to book-slinging Davids like us.
Lobu is a pretty simple, pretty great idea with the youthful glimmer-in-the-eye ambition of the classic lemonade stand. It came to the duo, Stephan tells FactsCoExist’s Adele Peters, when he was tracking a book he ordered online. The book, which he was relatively certain was available down the street at the local bookstore, but had ordered online out of convenience, was on an unnecessarily epic journey of some six hundred miles. The pair, then and there, decided there must, and could, be a better way:
We asked ourselves why they would have to ship our book from so far away when the same book is probably available at a local store just a few blocks away. Realizing that this is awfully inefficient and harmful to local businesses at the same time, the idea to provide a service that combines the simplicity and convenience of an online shop with the proximity and expertise of local businesses was born.
They hopped on their bikes. They met with some bookstores. And they arranged with those bookstores to provide same-day delivery to customers in the neighborhood, the predominately residential eighteenth district of Vienna. And well, so far, so good. Stephan tells Peters that, at the time of her reporting, they’ve received ninety orders in the last four days, “an amazing amount considering that the district has a rather small population and we are completely new to the market.”
The duo doesn’t plan on stopping there. As demand increases for their service, which is “easily adaptable to other cities and business sectors,” they anticipate expanding to other cities, hiring lively book-ish college students, and helping local economics all along the way.
Hey, the kids are alright.
Chad Felix is the Manager of Direct Sales and Library Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.