WebStollen

“Technology should be simpler. That is the future.“

Interview with Florian Barbian and Michael Stepanek — Founders of WebStollen.

WebStollen

Record an album on your laptop. Produce a film and then post it online. Do your own thing. You don’t need a plan. That was the promise of the 2000s. Suddenly, everyone needed a website (better yet, a “homepage”).
Florian Barbian and Michael Stepanek were quick to catch on to this growing need. Along with a former schoolmate, they founded WebStollen in 2001. At that time, none of them could have imagined that they were laying the foundations for a 20-year success story.

“We would finish building a site and then hang out and play table football.”

Florian Barbian co-founder of WebStollen

They never planned on becoming independent entrepreneurs. Even though they worked at first on an order-by-order basis, their way of working was already different from the many other creative companies that were popping up like mushrooms after a rain shower in those days. “There were suddenly all these hip agencies in the 2000s… everything had a tropical vibe, or something like that. We just wanted to do an honest day’s work, so that’s why we decided to call our company WebStollen.”

The company’s name comes from working in the mines. “Stollen” means “mineshaft” or “tunnel” in German. Honest, down-to-earth, hard work. That’s what this company has always stood for. WebStollen was not born in a loft in Berlin, but in a student flat in Regensburg.

The Webstollen Team in the office.

From shop partner to tech provider

Originally, WebStollen primarily developed websites and eBay templates for the German market. But before long, they started receiving orders for online shops. With each project, the future started to look brighter. Soon, the three students were hiring employees and moving their company into an office space.

“We used our earnings to finance our studies.”

Michael Stepanek co-founder of WebStollen

In 2009, Michael first became aware of the e-commerce software JTL. As a certified JTL service partner, WebStollen was able to build countless online shops while also writing early extensions for JTL Shop. In the years that followed, the company developed over 100 plugins and counting. “We grew up like most agencies. We would consult website operators, apply the Shop template and launch the site onto the market. This helped us realise what was missing in Shop… which requirements was the core program unable to meet?” As a result, the partnership between WebStollen and JTL grew even stronger. Besides designing online store concepts and managing online shops, digital services in the form of JTL plugins are one of WebStollen’s main areas of expertise.

Webstollen Engineers in the office.

Into the future with dash.bar

Michael and Florian want to focus even more heavily on digital services. Their centrepiece is the dash.bar e-commerce app. It allows for a wide range of data in the form of statistics and analytics to be displayed in a centralized dashboard. This information empowers website operators to optimize their online shops.

“dash.bar gets people excited about JTL.”

Michael Stepanek co-founder of WebStollen

It’s a problem that has plagued online shop owners for years: they rely on dozens of digital tools and services, but each one has its own interface. Hardly anyone can make sense of this jungle of data and apps. “We want to bring together lots of great services into a single place”, says Michael.

Part of this means developing the right payment solution to meet the highest standards. This solution would have to offer state-of-the-art technology, along with fully automated payment processes and automatic subscription cancellation options. “The Mollie API delivers exactly what we needed.”

The founders holding an iPad in the background (left picture). The dash.bar app running on an iPad that is sitting vertically on a wooden table(right picture).

Simple. Flexible. Innovative.

“Believe it or not, the same week we wanted to get in touch with Mollie, our phone rang and it was Mollie calling us. That was a hilarious conversation”, recalls Florian. Mollie was looking for an agency that could develop a plugin for JTL Shop. “It was immediately clear to us that here were two innovative, creative companies coming together, and that this was the beginning of a very productive partnership.”

“Mollie and WebStollen take exactly the same approach.”

Florian Barbian co-founder of WebStollen

“We try to deliver a service that is super simple, as powerful as possible, but also as easy to use as you can imagine,” says Florian. Michaels adds, “Mollie is definitely the most easily integratable of all the payment providers in the JTL space. It takes just one day for a small online retailer. It’s really quick with Mollie. We think that’s cool, and our customers think it’s cool too.”
Along with the simplicity and flexibility (no contractual tie-down), there’s another thing Florian loves about Mollie: their push for innovation. “It’s obvious that you guys are not standing still. Mollie keeps moving forward. We had the chance to talk to the designers to implement the new partner back-end”, he says. Michael adds: “It’s a very healthy partnership. We see Mollie as a very reliable partner. That’s definitely not something you can take for granted in the start-up world.”

Florian Barbian and Michael Stepanek, founders of WebStollen

Goodbye technology, hello people

It is not enough for digital solutions to just become simpler. In the future, they also have to be better coordinated and fully interconnected with each other. “It’s very important to use APIs”, says Michael, “because the shop operator simply has to run analytics. Payment is also a big topic. Operators need to know which customers are paying with which payment methods.”
To make sure online retailers can still see the forest for the trees, their needs must be put ahead of the technology.

“Online retail should not be a tech monster.”

Michael Stepanek co-founder of WebStollen

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“The restaurant experience is going digital.”— Björn Wisnewski, Founder at SimplyDelivery