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MTH Unboxing: BottleAd

Using a reverse vending machine as an advertising platform? In this way, retailers and brands can draw customers’ attention to specific offers and promotions at a crucial moment of the customer journey. In the February issue of the MTH Unboxing series, BottleAd founders Jost Wenckebach and Marcel Pirlich explain their idea and concept in more detail. Read more in the Q&A!

MTH Accelerator: What did you do before BottleAd?

Marcel: Before founding BottleAd, I had the opportunity to do quite a bit in my professional career; I worked in the financial sector and in mobile communications. Through working many years for international corporations, medium-sized businesses, and in the start-up scene, I was fortunate to acquire a wide range of knowledge.
Before BottleAd, I founded and managed a company in the field of AI-driven digital advertising for over ten years. My idea at the time was to use fully automated trading systems from the stock market to purchase ads on platforms like Google and Amazon. We quickly raised millions from institutional investors and then grew steadily. After ten years, I was looking for something new, some “entrepreneurial fresh air” and found an incredible fit in BottleAd: making recycling more profitable through a simple model that has become an internet hit.

Jost: During the past ten years, I worked as a consultant and then as a private equity investor. I’ve not only been able to shape several company acquisitions and sales, but also to accompany and support these companies in their development. I have therefore seen, analyzed, and developed many industries and business models. As a result of these experiences, I conceived the idea for BottleAd, a new advertising platform that reaches customers at a crucial stage in their consumer experience, right before they make a purchase. This platform can be used throughout Germany and can be easily internationalized.

MTH Accelerator: What are doing when you’re not working for BottleAd?

Marcel: I support startups with capital, know-how, and networking. I am active in the Entrepreneurs Organization (, a global association of over 15,000 entrepreneurs whose goal is to share lifelong learning and personal development with one another. I am on the board of our accelerator to support young companies that want to grow quickly. Also, as a father of two children, I get to enjoy the little wonders of nature every day!

Jost: My main focus right now is BottleAd––there is a lot to do because we are currently expanding our platform very quickly. But, outside of BottleAd, I’m happy to act as a sparring partner to founders/managers and entrepreneurs in their M&A projects and to support them in this capacity. With my experience I’m able to assist them in thinking through the various transaction scenarios.
When it comes to leisure activities, it’s pretty difficult to do much during these COVID times. When the gym is open, I’m happy to go. And when it’s possible, I meet up with friends and talk about the important things in life, like cars. Hanging out with friends and traveling will hopefully come back sometime in the near future…

MTH Accelerator: What is BottleAd?

BottleAd: BottleAd is a new advertising platform for food retailers with a different impact: more satisfied customers, more sales, and more successful brands. We make unused sales spaces profitable. We do this by placing adverts on cost-intensive reverse vending machines, thereby making them more attractive while offering brands a communication platform at a crucial point in the consumer journey. We use a digital network to connect countless retailers to a large network that currently reaches as many consumers as a mid-size TV station.

MTH Accelerator: Why the MTH Accelerator?

BottleAd: The MTH Accelerator gives us the opportunity to quickly gain a foothold in Potsdam’s startup environment, to make important contacts, and to learn even more about startups, funding, and talent. We have also been able to move into our first office in the MTH Space, which gives us a physical work presence appropriate to our needs as a startup.

MTH Accelerator: Why BottleAd?

BottleAd: BottleAd is a very simple but impactful idea: to advertise at one of the most crucial stages of the consumer journey––just before the moment of purchase. If you look a little deeper, we occupy a  trend: retail media. And the big players have already led the way: Amazon will earn over $20 billion with advertising in 2021. We help small retailers grow, making them relevant for national and international campaigns.

MTH Accelerator: What is your mission?

BottleAd: BottleAd brings the Google Adsense platform model to food retail––with a unique touchpoint in the customer journey.

The MTH Accelerator portfolio is growing and growing. But what exactly do the teams do and, above all, what did they do before they became entrepreneurs? In MTH Unboxing, our new interview series, we shed some light on the subject and introduce the teams in more detail. MTH Accelerator Babelsberg is the program for startups and founding teams from the metropolitan region who are looking to explore technologies and digital business models and take their companies to the next level.

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