How it all began
In 1999, five McKinsey staffers decided to shake up the confusing procurement market for business customers in Germany. Their aim was to launch a digital marketplace in order to revolutionise the market by making purchasing more efficient for companies. The platform that would achieve this, www.mercateo.com, finally went live in 2000. Twenty years later, Mercateo now employs almost 600 people across Europe and operates in 14 countries.
Preserving the entrepreneurial spirit
One of its founders, Sebastian Wieser, has been a mainstay of Mercateo ever since the birth of this brilliant idea. Together with his colleagues, Sebastian has preserved the unique Mercateo spirit – the constant drive for process optimisation and digital networking in the world of business – for 20 years. Additional factors which are almost as important at Mercateo include the ‘we’ feeling, mutual respect, humour, curiosity and open ears.
Exporting a success story
Our plan was to make procurement processes in Germany simpler and more transparent. We set out to build a web-based purchasing platform with a broad network of suppliers.
The Mercateo story
The people behind Mercateo
Heike Kleine: From supplier manager to key account manager
In 2004, Heike Kleine was the first supplier manager at Mercateo in Köthen. At that time, there was no sales department like the one we have now. We started in 2007 with our first key account, namely RWE. The enduring partnership between RWE and us attracted the attention of other major customers. “We owe the imaginative, interactive work and the development of our first few products, such as punch-out, view management and exclusive catalogues, to the creative execution of ideas, comparing what customers wanted to what was feasible, and learning from our mistakes,” says Heike. By doing so, she laid the foundations for today’s sales department.
Oliver Endert: From undergraduate to top expert
Oliver Endert applied to Mercateo in 2004 when he was looking for a company where he could complete his undergraduate dissertation. 2004 was the time when the accountants in Munich left the company, Mercateo Services was established, and the accounting giant PwC was too big for the newly relaunced Mercateo in Köthen. Peter Ledermann said to Oliver: “Forget your dissertation, we’ve got the annual accounts to do!” “I’ve never done that before,” Olli replied. “Me neither!” retorted Peter. As luck would have it, Oliver’s grandmother was an experienced accountant, and she stepped in to help her grandson. Oliver is now our top expert on European tax law and is leading the Tax & Audit department.
Stephanie Polley: From office manager to relocation manager
“I still remember my father sceptically asking me in 2004 whether I was sure about applying to work for an internet firm that had only been around for half a year as if it was yesterday,” Stephanie Polley (second from the right) said. During the interview, Peter explained her new job to her: “We need someone to run the office, put some structure into it, and welcome visitors,” he said. “I set up the office management system, dealt with job applicants, drew down funding, looked after trainees and HR, and handled payroll accounting. That was almost 20 years ago and every October, I ask my father whether he’s still so sceptical!”
Stefanie Wildgrube: At Mercateo, you come to work as a person
“The position of supplier manager was my first job after graduating in 2007. Four years later, I decided to take on a new professional challenge in order to get a taste of working for other companies and develop my career. Although I learned new things everywhere, I never experienced a comparable corporate culture again. At Mercateo, you don’t just come to work as an employee, but as a person. It’s precisely these employees who give Mercateo a face and make me feel that I’m not just doing my job, but that I’m actually part of something. This ‘something’ could just as easily mean an exuberant summer party, a successful project or team event. This ‘human touch’ was probably the main reason for me to return to Mercateo.”