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WHY we started Metalshub by Frank M. Jackel & Sebastian Kreft

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September 30, 2020

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” Napoleon Hill

The strong desire to change things in the metals & mining industry was at the beginning of our journey of founding and growing Metalshub. While working together at Anglo American - Frank as Head of Ferroalloys Sales and Sebastian as Head of Nickel Sales - the freshly created and innovative Marketing Business Unit organised in 2014 a leadership workshop to set the direction, strategy and ambition of Anglo’s Marketing Business Unit. We were asked to THINK BIG and define ambitious value creation goals. We wanted to “put a man on the moon”, figuratively speaking. Many ideas were brought up, discussed, and plans laid out to transform Anglo American into one of the industry leaders.

When projects were eventually lifting off the commodity downturn hit the industry in 2015. Anglo’s CEO Mark Cutifani had to come up with a radical divestment plan to reassure investors as the situation got worse throughout the year. Therefore, he announced at the end of 2015 to put many Anglo assets up, assets employing around 85,000 Anglo employees. The ferroniobium and ferronickel mines were among those assets which were to be sold. All appetite for innovation and new growth projects suddenly seized in Anglo American and the organization went into hibernation. We felt sad and disappointed.

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill

Hence, we put our heads together to proactively explore the options. The idea and desire grew to start-up a company that could revolutionise the metals and mining industry. The working title was “Metalshub” and the vision was to become the “Amazon for Metals”.

To put some flesh to the bone, meeting over a weekend in April 2016 at Frank’s place in Winchmore Hill, North London, for a brainstorming session. On the flipchart in Frank’s kitchen, we developed the idea to launch a digital trading platform for metal suppliers to sell their products directly to consumers in a highly efficient and convenient way.

The platform should become the “Amazon for Metals” where metal consumers can buy all their metal requirements in a one-stop-shop. Similar to the Amazon model, the platform should do more than just match-making between supply and demand. It should become a full-service provider. The revenue model should be based on transaction fees, data subscription services, as well as commissions on adjacent services offered.

In May 2016, we conducted a second workshop at Frank’s house to detail the value proposition for buyers and sellers on Metalshub.

For metal suppliers the value proposition would be about:
• Giving access to a global pool of end-users
• Increasing process efficiency by using state of the art technology and neutral trading terms & conditions • Providing a tool for price discovery
• Providing accurate and reliable market and price information
• Increasing transparency and reducing compliance risks by adopting a strict Know Your Customer (KYC) policy

For metal buyers, the value proposition would be about:
• Offering a tool for a faster and easier purchase process
• Minimising performance and quality risks by offering an amazon like rating system
• Providing accurate and reliable market and price information
• Reducing compliance risks (e.g. corruption, bribery, etc.)

Our vision was to use technology so that everyone can trade with everyone in a convenient and safe way.

After receiving approval from our families, we made up our minds in June 2016. Our desire was strong and we believed in our vision to transform the industry with Metalshub. We also felt confident that they were a strong, complementary team that could turn the opportunity into reality. After work, we went to a pub near our office close to Trafalgar Square, “The Ship & the Shovell”. Standing outside at a wooden barrel we sealed the deal: we will quit our jobs and start Metalshub. We will make the world a better place by driving the digital transformation of the metals industry! Cheers to that!

Putting our vision into reality, we quit our jobs at Anglo American and Sebastian left London to set up camp in Düsseldorf in September 2016. We founded the Metals Hub GmbH officially on the 8th of December 2016 in the office of the Notary Dr. Temme in the Kaiserswerther Straße. Fully energised, the Metalshub journey began…

Frank & Sebastian

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