EuRegio

Fight against plastic hits the bull’s eye at EuRegio Start Up Camp

“WithOUT” is designed to reduce plastic waste in the bathroom: With her business idea, IUBH student Steffanie not only won first prize at the EuRegio Start Up Camp in Traunstein but also won a boost in self-confidence. 

 

My name is Steffanie and I study hospitality management at IUBH in Bad Reichenhall. Previously, I attended the Steigenberger Akademie where I completed my vocational training as a hotel economist (Hotelökonomin). I decided to study hospitality management because the integration of practice and theory is perfectly coordinated with each other. Thanks to the support and assistance of my lecturers, I was able to take my son, who is now two years old, to university with me right from the start. From the very beginning, my lecturer, Dr David Rempel, also supported my entrepreneurial plans.

“WithOUT”: Business model to fight plastic waste

I care a lot about the environment: we are not only responsible for our own generation, but also for the generations to come. Particularly since the birth of my son, I have become aware of how much plastic waste we produce as a small family, especially in terms of drugstore products. In my search for environmentally friendly alternatives for the bathroom, my employer, an automotive supplier, gave me the answer.  At work, I often deal with regulations governing materials and materials in general. About a year ago, I came up with the idea for “WithOUT”: Filling systems for hair shampoo with compatible stainless steel bottles that also look cool.

Family and friends were totally enthusiastic about the idea, but I wondered if “WithOUT” would be compelling outside my own circle. My lecturer in entrepreneurship, Dr David Rempel, encouraged me to optimise my business idea and to go public with it. It was through him that I learned about the opportunity to participate in the EuRegio Start Up Camp in Traunstein: There I faced – not without a bit of trepidation – a jury of experts and 24 competitors.

EuRegio Start Up Camp: Platform for the start-up scene

The weekend event started on Friday with a teambuilding exercise. On Saturday, it was all about getting down to business: In a pitch workshop, we learnt how to present our ideas skilfully. I thought it was a bit presumptuous to discuss my half-finished business idea with the jury, but ultimately I had signed up for the camp to get expert feedback. Totally exhausted and overwhelmed by the first feedback from the entrepreneurs, I was asked to create a presentation for Sunday that would knock everyone out.

Panic! How do I get my business idea on paper within two hours? Are the three minutes allowed enough for me to describe it? Fortunately, with the support of my team and the EuRegio team, I was able to decide on three key messages. First: “Every German produces 200 kg of plastic waste a year, and my idea will change that.” Second: “I want to produce filling systems for hair shampoo with compatible stainless steel bottles so that plastic-free shopping is possible from start to finish”. Third: “WithOUT Plastic.”

To my surprise, I was able to convince the judges of my idea and won the prize for the best pitch: a weekend at the Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden and a financing workshop. Above all, however, this experience strengthened my confidence in my business idea and myself. I also met mentors there, whom I will certainly be calling again to get their feedback. The camp lured me out of my comfort zone and gave me self-confidence in my vision.

Total commitment to the big dream

What happens next with “WithOUT”? I devote every free minute to the project and have also made it the topic of my bachelor thesis. My biggest dream is to turn my business model into reality and to make the world more plastic-free for future generations.

 

Steffanie is 28 years old. She has been studying Bachelor Hospitality Management at IUBH in Bad Reichenhall since 2016. She enjoys swimming in her free time and spending time with her family in the countryside.

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