Start-up Check! Spoontainable puts an end to plastic waste when eating ice cream!

In the series “Start-up-Check!” We regularly examine the business models of start-ups. Who is behind the company? What makes the start-up so special and what is there to criticize? Today: Spoontainable.

Start-ups. That sounds like inventiveness, future technologies, new markets. But in reality, many of the start-ups unfortunately often turn out to be a mixture of an e-commerce idea, hopeless founders, and shaky future prospects. 

But they certainly do exist: the thought leaders, who work on the big problems and revolutionize business models. Finding and introducing them is the task of the Start-up-Check format. Today: Spoontainable from Stuttgart.

Who is behind Spoontainable?

Concentrated female power: That’s what the six-headed team at Spoontainable describes best. The Entrepreneurs – all young ladies and all still with student status – met at the international student organization Enactus. More specifically, in the Enactus team of the University of Hohenheim.

There, near Stuttgart, the three founders complete their master studies. The managing directors Amelie Vermeer and Julia Piechotta studied management and product development Anja Wildermuth in the field of nutrition science and dietetics.

The remaining team members were also acquired from these subjects so that there is no shortage of specialist know-how.

Spoontainable is one of seven active projects of the student group Enactus Hohenheim, which is based in the Chair of Entrepreneurship. Particularly promising among them: the small start-up of the six women, in which the success is already apparent after a few months.

The founders achieved their first financing target of 10,000 euros with the help of a crowdfunding project running on the Startnext platform, which ran for only four weeks (August 2018). Okay, two business angels were involved as well. But they still want to act unnamed in the background.

With this first cash injection, the foundation of a UG and the patent filing could be financed. Spoontainable is currently undergoing the test phase of industrial production.

In other words, the tests on the prototype have been completed and the first margin will be launched in April 2019. Then it will be the highest railway. Finally, Spoontainable produces at first glance classic summer items!

What does Spoontainable do?

In a nutshell: An edible ice cream spoon. At the latest in summer, according to the expectations of the founders, dessert-lovers will be spoiling their sweet treat with the sustainable spoon on all ice cream parlors in the streets of Germany.

Astonished murmurs make themselves felt: “Edible spoons – there are already! What’s new about it? “Yes: there are already spoons of biscuit or waffle dough. But not such. And no ice cream spoons.

Everyone knows them, the little colorful plastic ice cream spoons that have accompanied us all our childhood. And they still exist! No matter how hip the latest hipster ice cream parlor with its organic ice cream flavors and vegan variants may be, there are usually only one-way pens in neon color for spooning.

Basically an article that lands in plastic waste in less than ten minutes.

With their innovative product, the founders of Spoontainable – a clever pun on Sustainable and Spoon – want to make their contribution in the fight against unnecessary plastic waste through disposable crockery.

Because in Germany alone up to 360 million plastic spoons are produced annually, which are all thrown away after a single use.

“There are sustainable alternatives for plastic cups and straws – but not for the usual ice cream spoon on the favorite ice cream parlor,” says the Spoontainable team after his research.

The slogan “Do not waste it, taste it”, which can already be found at #dontwasteittasteit on the social web, has already been realized with their product. The delicious spoon made of cookie dough with a special recipe is vegan, naturally sweet without added sugar and soon to be available in the flavor variant chocolate.

The second alternative is vanilla flavor in conversation. A timetable is only available when the heel of the chocolate spoon has started.

Since the young company wants to focus on B2B sales, the minimum order quantity of 10,000 pieces has been set. Depending on the order quantity, the costs are between five cents and eight cents.

The cooperation with Copenrath Feingebck, who is responsible for the production of the ice cream spoons, shows that industry leaders also promise the project to be successful. Logistics and sales remain in the hands of Spoontainable.

Above all, the upcoming EU ban on plastic and styrofoam items, which is already being discussed for 2021, plays a trump card in the hands of aspiring female entrepreneurs.

The first inquiries from ice cream parcels and chains already existed. It is therefore quite realistic that Spoontainable will establish itself in the market by then. Especially since there is no direct competitor.

Although there are spoons made of wood, corn starch, bamboo or compostable bioplastic and edible spoons from other manufacturers. “But there is no such thing as a competitor in the ice cream business,” explains managing director Julia Piechotta.

What makes Spoontainable so special?

The core of the poodle: The special recipe turns the Spoontainable ice cream spoon into a promising product. As already mentioned, it is vegan and is made without additional sugar.

In addition, it is refined by the addition of edible dietary fiber – actually a waste product of food production – and thus receives its unique properties.

Then the cookie dough is processed into a spoon by a baking and drying process. Due to the high fiber content of the fibers, part of the flour can be replaced. This is quite desirable, because a pure flour mixture would give the spoon less stability and inner elasticity than the fibers.

In addition, the fibers make the spoon “hard-wearing” – it does not melt into ice cream, frozen yogurt or pudding. He should be able to withstand the semi-liquid desserts for up to 60 minutes without breaking off or dissolving.

Also in terms of taste, the dietary fibers are a gain because they give an authentic mouthfeel. For the chocolate spoon mainly food fibers of the cocoa peel were processed. Therefore, comes the chocolate flavor, which, by the way, when spooning is not released to the ice.

By recycling the plant fibers, which can also come from fruits, vegetables or legumes, the Spoontainable Spoon is doubly sustainable because it recycles this natural waste product.

So much innovation did not go unnoticed. Spoontainable has already introduced the idea of a sustainable, edible ice cream spoon that helps reduce plastic waste at the “Startup Stories” trade fair.

The start-up Theresa Bauer, Minister of State for Science, Research and the Arts in Baden-Wrttemberg, was able to convince with a taste test. Special pride, however, is the “Spirit Award”, which was awarded to the women entrepreneurs at the National Cup of Enactus.

Are there any criticisms?

Since the Spoontainable ice cream spoon is not yet on the market, a critical examination of the product is somewhat difficult. That there should be only one, possibly two flavors for the time being and that the contemplated varieties of lemon, strawberry and cinnamon probably not developed promptly, could be brought as a reproachful objection.

Too bad – but also owed to the early stage of starting a business – is that the recipe is limited to ice cream spoons. It would be desirable to test the innovative formula for other cutlery, so that plastic disposable tableware disappears faster from our everyday lives.

At the latest then it will be worthwhile to build up the B2C sales. Environmental awareness is increasing. The willingness to switch to sustainable, environmentally friendly products is great.

Conclusion

The sustainability of the idea is convincing and the focus on a seemingly small niche like the ice cream business makes sense. After all, there is still no direct competition here and definitely still too many neon-plastic Eisschufelchen.

The upcoming political decisions offer promising prospects. The already existing cooperation with Copenrath Feingebck makes it clear that the Spoontainable founders do not have idealistic unilateralism as naive world improvers in mind, but have proven sophisticated economic thinking.

They combine entrepreneurial spirit and technological innovation. This definitely gives a “thumbs up!” So the summer can come and we can enjoy our favorite ice cream sorts with a clear conscience and bite into the spoon afterwards!

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