Hero of the Week - Taniel Põld: “I am inspired by Estonian startup landscape”

Taniel Põld is the CEO of Degritter, a company specializing in ultrasonic cleaning of vinyl records and is particularly distinguished by its minimalist style. Degritter is one of the projects that has grown out from the Tartu Centre for Creative Industries. In addition to coordinating Tartu's creative industries and organizing events and training, the Tartu Centre for Creative Industries is also an incubation center to provide economic and legal support to creative entrepreneurs.

Juta Kuhlberg, a business consultant of Degritter, says, “Tartu Centre for Creative Industries (TCCI) is very proud and happy to have the opportunity to contribute to the development of Degritter. Degritter joined TCCI in September 2018 and since then we have been able to provide mutual value. While in the spring of 2019, TCCI was honoring its entrepreneurs, Degritter was named the Company of the Year, because the company is created by people who are delightfully stylish, systematic and hard-working.”

What are the personality traits that help a person to become successful?

Restlessness. Becoming too comfortable in your life will not lead to new discoveries or achievements. Secondly, keeping yourself motivated. We have a very cheesy "Live, Love, Laugh" poster on the wall of our office that was put there as a practical joke. Now, however, the joke’s on me as it also reminds me to work on my motivation.

What do you think about mentors? Do you have any?

Often it is the process of describing your problems that already gives a new perspective. Also, an outsider's point of view brings fresh ideas.

For this, we are part of the Tartu Centre for Creative Industries incubation program where we meet with our mentor Juta monthly.

With bigger challenges, we do seek out experts in the field and ask for their take on things. We have a long list of people who have helped us along the way by sharing their experience and to whom we are very grateful.

Why is now the time for your company to exist?

Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have made it very easy to listen to any music at any time. Often you have songs playing for background while your focus is elsewhere. Physical mediums like vinyl records or CDs come with their own rituals, where you have to take the time to listen. Of course, they also make great collectibles.

I guess because of this there is renewed interest in actual physical records. The vinyl market

and production of new records has shown constant growth since 2007 - a phenomenon named Vinyl Revival.

I am inspired by:

The Estonian startup landscape. It really gives you courage when you have witnessed your

friends, acquaintances, and peers building successful companies from scratch.

What have been the biggest victories along your or your startup journey?

Developing a complicated electrical appliance for 4 years without any prior experience in the field and then finally seeing the end result. I occasionally still find myself looking at the freshly assembled Degritters and think - damn, this is one fine piece of machinery.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

When we shipped our first 10 retail machines in February 2019, we had to issue a callback for all of them a few weeks later due to a faulty temperature sensor. This was quite the hit on morale, but it also gave us a quick crash course - a real sink or swim moment - on how to support customers and keep them happy. I think our fast and reliable customer support is one of our main advantages over the competitors.

Where will Degritter be in 5 years?

We will be the leading record cleaner manufacturer and our brand will have the largest market share. There will be multiple models available, some of which we are already working on. Our amazing team will also be using the experience gained to create products for a new market segment unrelated to HiFi.

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