microPow aims to assist consumers who want natural and convenient food products. We improve the shelf-life of products while intensifying the perception of contained aromas and flavors.
Location: Zürich, Switzerland
Product / Service Offering: Delivery system for aromas and flavors
Co-founder Interviewed: Pascal Guillet
Other Key Management Team Members: Lea Pokorny
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight Series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
We both love exploring supermarkets for new, innovative food products, but often are left unsatisfied when we leave the store with another not-so-innovative new protein yogurt. Our aim is to enrich the food market using our delivery system, microPow, enabling real innovations in the relatively conservative food industry.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
We officially started our project, microPow, in March 2018 based on an idea developed during a retreat in Santa Margherita in Liguria, Italy. After long discussions catalyzed by pizza, wine and ice-cream about our PhD research projects, we realized the immense potential of a possible combination of Lea’s micro-foams with Pascal’s powdered fat systems creating supercharged, more stable aromas and flavors.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
microPow aims to solve the currently opposing trends of consumers demanding natural but in the meantime convenient food products.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
We improve the shelf-life and intensify the perception of contained aromas and flavors compared to existing solutions.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
We invested a lot of time and sweat into getting our production process ready and creating the desired properties in the end product. Our extensive network and very supportive collaboration partners were crucial in making our production process and product happen. Furthermore, patenting our IP and securing the rights for our product was a relatively lengthy process involving many parties. This was especially problematic, as it was potentially hindering us from communicating the full scope of our product to customers and partners. Systematically entering NDA agreements with partners gave us some security talking to customers while we were pushing involved parties during the patenting process.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
Building up and actively using a strong network whenever you can is crucial. Try to get early access to excellent mentors, especially where you lack relevant expertise.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
Our project is based on research done at ETH Zürich. We applied for the Pioneer Fellowship program which funds us for the initial project year, March 2018 through February 2019. In a second stage, we successfully applied for the Kickstart Accelerator 2018, where we are looking forward to further build our network, get access to mentoring and knowledge and hopefully also secure further funding.
We would recommend applying for the highest valued funding opportunities. Another point would be to focus more on options providing access to the most promising network and infrastructure. The success of a young company strongly depends on strong collaboration partners.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Building an efficient team structure and distributing tasks among team members has been a major challenge. We are still working on finding the optimum structure. It is certainly beneficial to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of team members and communicate openly from the beginning in order to minimize inefficiencies.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
The next major goal of microPow is to secure funding for up-scaling and large-scale production including food safety certification.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Limit the number of collaborators and partners with the most promising in order to limit possible distractions and inefficiencies. Use a clever task management tool, such as Trello, to get organized and assign tasks.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
Keep your eyes open for real innovations in food products in the next years! microPow will leave its footprint.
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