Checking foods and cosmetics for ingredients – making code check your daily supermarket companion for many people. Now the company behind the app is insolvent.
The app isn’t just insider advice for vegans when it comes to checking products for animal ingredients. By scanning the code, foods and cosmetics can also be checked for unhealthy or even dangerous ingredients. This works via a printed barcode that users scan with their smartphone. Checking the code on the display shows whether the product contains questionable ingredients such as microplastics or animal ingredients. Popular Software: According to the company, Codecheck has more than ten million downloads and 4.5 million registered users. However, they may soon have to look for an alternative.
Because according to the startup scene information, the company behind the app is in danger of extinction. Bankruptcy proceedings were opened in Charlottenburg County Court on November 19. Florian Linekert has been appointed interim insolvency administrator. It cannot be reached at short notice upon request. Most recently, Gabriele Ottino, better known as the former Managing Director of the Doodle Finder platform, served as the CEO of Codecheck.
Not enough sales generated
Even if Codecheck really took off in recent years – the idea dates back to the beginning of the millennium. In 2002, student Roman Bleichenbacher started an online database in which everyone could record ingredients, nutritional values, and product manufacturers. In 2010, an app for the iPhone was launched. Four more years later, Blechenbacher turned what was once a hobby project into a real startup: he brought in early investors who over the years had contributed around €4.2 million to Codecheck. The last funding took place in 2017. At the time, the Swiss tech fund and previous investors Polytech Ventures and MGO Digital Ventures invested.
Codecheck wanted to make money mainly with in-app ads and premium paid features. For example, users can keep the app ad-free with a one-time payment of €9 and scan products even without an internet connection – a feature particularly practical in supermarkets with poor cell phone reception. Die-hard fans were also able to support the company with monthly contributions of five euros. In addition, Codecheck recently hoped to generate income from consumer goods manufacturers, who must use the product and anonymous user data in order to determine consumer trends earlier.
But it is clear that the business model has not proven sustainable. “In the years since the code was examined, advertising and end-user subscriptions have not generated enough revenue to cover the costs,” the company explains when asked by Gründerszene. The new B2B business also needed more investment in order to get rid of the money in the long run. “This investment money can’t be found.”
What’s next with Codecheck?
How Codecheck will remain open. The company says it is working “extensively” to find a “long-term solution” and to ensure the app continues to function. It might be conceivable, for example, that a consumer goods manufacturer could take over the app – also because of the data concern.
This will also be good news for the current 24 employees of Codecheck. They are said to have been particularly disappointed by the bankruptcy of their employer. Managing Director Gabriel Otieno explains that “the worst was standing in front of the assembled team and telling them we didn’t succeed. It wasn’t just a job for everyone, but a job based on real personal conviction.”