We (Viona and Vita) worked as a team and set a goal to make sustainability consumer friendly. At the beginning of our residency, with the help of the ENI coaches, we defined and set goals for ourselves to accomplish by the end of the semester. These included formulating a concrete social problem based on our ideation, successfully participating in the entry-level entrepreneurship course "Makers of Tomorrow," and university networking.
Pretty quickly, we were able to agree on a problem that will probably become much more prominent in the future: the non-sustainability of supermarkets. By this, we do not mean that supermarkets do not operate sustainably per se, but rather that the accessibility of sustainable product alternatives is not (yet) given. From our own experience, we can say that most of the time, people only know about alternative sustainable products after intensive research. Those who are not very self-motivated to do so will therefore refrain from doing it altogether; for many people, this simply represents a considerable, unjustified expenditure of time. This makes it more difficult to raise awareness of the fact that there are also sustainable alternatives to products that are relatively similar in price. The goal is therefore to make people aware of these sustainable alternatives and to equip supermarkets with sustainable product alternatives on a large scale.
This is how we came up with our objective: to turn supermarkets into partially unpackaged stores, because only a few supermarkets offer the possibility to shop without plastic packaging. In the ideation phase, we did a lot of research on the concept of "unpacked stores" and watched videos of founders on this topic. Then we came up with our idea: the introduction of a deposit system. This involves glass containers that a consumer can use in exchange for a deposit in order to fill them with products that are unpackaged. At the moment we have reached several limits in the elaboration of our idea and now we have to work on some difficulties. Among others, the logistic effort, the personnel costs or the increasing price for the unpacked products, which will be caused by additional manpower necessary for our idea.
Learn to found
In addition to ideation, however, this semester we have been primarily concerned with founding in itself. We learned a lot about entrepreneurship through Makers of Tomorrow and also applied it practically. We had to question ourselves and whether we had the passion and motivation to start a business. In addition, we asked many people about problems in everyday life in order to work out which problems are particularly salient and what others think of our idea. Furthermore, we developed a Minimum Viable Product to represent how our idea should look and function in "real life". Based on interview feedback, we then included aspects that we had not yet considered. To get a clear and complete overview of our goals and our future company, we worked on the "Business Model Canvas" and finally designed a pitch deck. Lastly, we tried to look into the future and consider how big the company can become one day, what our goals will be and how successful we can and want to become. Currently, we are working on exploring how our idea resonates with our target audience. To this end, we are currently developing a target group-oriented survey that still needs to be optimized.
All in all, we learned a lot about founding in this first semester and were able to apply some of it. Much of what we learned will help us further and we will build on it in the near future. Participating in Makers of Tomorrow was fun and got us excited about founding. At the same time, we also realized that our own business idea needs to be further elaborated and channeled. We now want to continue working on this.