No intention to found a company and no business plan – but an idea inspired by a girlfriend in need of a reliable notebook. We talked to Robert Schenker about the spontaneous beginnings of Schenker Notebooks, the brands future and long term customer loyalty.
From hardware solution to company
Although video games were among Roberts interests, the solution to hardware problems ultimately was the fundamental idea behind Schenker Notebooks about 18 years ago. His then-girlfriend and present wife was looking for a reliable, high quality notebook. Popular products at the time often weren't equipped with a battery, were used exclusively in the business sector and cost about two thousand Euro. Without a battery products could be sold for lower prices but were lacking the performance needed for more complex applications and games. Robert looked into upgrading laptops with additional or better components and informed himself about their prizes. Finally he came to the conclusion that it might just work to sell high quality, high performance laptops for a reasonable price. But founding a company? Never in a million years. Entering the IT industry in 2002 would have been mad and unrealistic - so his assessment today. Starting point was in unspectacular fashion the collection of his business license to sell his first creations via Ebay. One year later he opened his own shop. For a few years the shop consisted of a total of two to three employees. The small team did everything on their own, from product assembly to sales. When demand for laptops increased the small business soon grew into a company.
Positioning on the market
By this time Schenker Notebooks is one of the leading suppliers for configurable high-performance laptops, gaming laptops and computers. On top of that, its brand XMG has become indispensable in today's gaming sector. Then as now product design and installation takes place in Leipzig before distributing laptops worldwide. Competition is tough and even the high-end Notebook sector which once was a nook, is now flooded with supply. By this time each brand manufacturer has their own gaming outlet and predatory competition is ongoing. Furthermore, the big players are investing millions of dollars, making it hard to stay competitive. Due to this development Schenker Notebooks is in the midst of a transformation process and explores new business areas. Robert sees huge potential in the field of VR and XR. Since Schenker already operates as a distributor for VR and AR hardware systems, it is no surprise to see that Schenker is a shareholder of the local OVRLAB project agency, which specializes in virtual reality and augmented reality. New products are still developed with the same passion like they used to when the company first started selling Laptops via Ebay. Customers themselves can be convinced about that fact at the german stop of the DreamHack event in Leipzig. The DreamHack acts as a sort of digital-fair, esports-convention and LAN-party event, first taking place in Sweden in 1994. For a couple of years, Schenker has been succesfully realising the DreamHack event in conjunction with the Leipziger Messe (Leipzig convention center and trade fair).
Where values make the difference
According to Robert, quality, flexibility and honesty are the the foundation Schenker Notebooks stands on. Selling good Laptops at reasonable rates is not everything that counts. The same energy has to be put in service and customer support. High-quality components, strict quality assurance, short repair times and first-class customer support are crucial selling points for the company, creating loyal return customers. Customers can not only buy finished products, Schenker offers individually configurable Notebooks as well as individual components for self-assembly. Presenting these options, the company creates transparency since customers are able to amend and exchange hardware parts. Honesty within the company as well as honest communication with their customers are a top priority, so Robert says. Long term customer loyalty is a crucial business perspective. This way customers remain loyal and appreciate offered products and services. To the same extent this concept also attracts intrinsically motivated employees who contribute to the brands strengths. In Roberts mind, a company solely focused on profit would be unthinkable. A good company needs more than just that.
An advice for prospective founders
If you have a good idea, implement it - especially if your gut instinct tells you so. You don't need a perfect business plan and all theoretical considerations figured out. Actually starting is the most important part. Creative thinking and the ability to come up with new ideas are qualities that should be preserved. Sooner or later a project will need structure, especially when what has been started is working out favourably and starts to generate growth. Later invest in additional staff and skills while still leaving room for a variety of ideas.
Quick questions to Robert Schenker of Schenker Notebooks
How long have you been in Leipzig and why?
I'm from Leipzig and I'm going to stay here. Why should I leave? I'm rooted here and Leipzig is a gorgeous city.
Your insider tip for Leipzig?
Apart from the DreamHack, I highly recommend the fsociety on Karl-Liebknecht Straße. A rather unconventional VR venue where you can have a lot of fun with different VR games.