Next up in our founders’ blog series is Rena Kleine who joined our 10-month accelerator program this year with her founding team of ecosearch. In this blog series we like to give our program participants the floor to share their inspirations and vision about their business idea.
Earlier this year, Ecosearch launched the alpha version of their online register which displays company profiles with their respective sustainability data. I sat down with Rena to talk about their beta launch and her founding experience so far:
Rena, as Co-Founder of ecosearch, what inspired you to take this entrepreneurial path in life? Did you always want to become a founder?
I think I never wanted to become a founder but for all my life I’ve been pretty self-conscious about following my own path. I can nail it down to convincing my parents to allow me to get a motorcycle license. So, I have always enjoyed freedom and doing it my way. Now it feels natural but it was never the plan.
Tell us about ecosearch. What do you want our readers to know about your beta launch?
I’m excited! We were surprised to receive such overwhelming good feedback for the alpha launch which really only showed the basic functionalities. Now we’ve taken a big leap in asking companies that reached out to us for what more they wanted to see in the beta launch. We finally made it possible for them to edit their own profiles so that they can really display what they want to communicate about their sustainability, something that isn’t possible on LinkedIn nor Instagram.
So, I really want readers to know that we are delighted to give them a tool and a place where they can communicate their sustainability efforts and check out other companies and what they’re working towards. This way we are aiming to create more transparency in the whole business world.
Ecosearch will be founded based on the principles of the new purpose economy, in German called ‘Verantwortungseigentum’. Why did you make this decision and what does it mean exactly?
When we came together we questioned the traditional normal way of founding a startup because the money that you make goes back to investors and the founders themself. There is no circle of sustainability where the money we earn comes back to the people and helps bring forward a more sustainable way of living on this planet. So, we looked at different role models to see how founders, employees and investors can commit to giving back from an early point in the startup journey.
Unfortunately, in Germany there is no law yet where you can commit this way as a company. It’s been talked about a lot but there’s nothing that we can commit to right now, so the only way is the Purpose Economy. According to the Purpose Economy you give 1% of your company to them so they have a voting right. There are a lot of terms and conditions involved, so for example that you can’t sell the company or you can’t get investors on board that do not agree to the sustainable commissions. This way we all commit ourselves and every stakeholder.
You and your team are currently part of the High-Tech SeedLab accelerator program. Why did you decide to join? What are your expectations?
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to focus on building a product and generating value for our users. So, it was clear that we didn’t want to start with the whole investment process – we just needed time to build. So, we looked at the different options out there and I feel like the Berliner Startup Stipendium that the High-Tech SeedLab is part of, was really the perfect opportunity for that.
I know that it covers several other accelerators so we nailed it down to what we always do: to the one that has the most impact or expertise in regards to sustainability. That’s how we found you guys.
Until now you exceeded all the expectations, from supporting us but also giving us the freedom to do it our own way. You trust us along the way, we receive help and connections whenever we need them. I feel like you are doing an amazing job with not being too pushy and telling us to do things by the book. You let us do our thing and I like that philosophy.
Towards the end, I’d love to ask, what has been the most memorable experience with your team so far?
That’s a good question. Due to the virus we haven’t had the chance to be together very often.
Celebrating the alpha launch virtually was my favorite moment so far because we have put in a lot of work right at the beginning of the accelerator and we didn’t know what was going to come out of it. It was really a black hole. And we were already proud of ourselves with the launch but then getting the external feedback not only from users but also from experts felt amazing. So, the hard work paid off. And celebrating that with the whole team even virtually was amazing.
Thanks for your time Rena! Let’s end the interview with some helpful input for future entrepreneurs. If you could offer a first-time entrepreneur only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be open and ask for help.
The High-Tech SeedLab’s acceleration program is designed to help early-stage teams with a focus on sustainability and/or women in tech to test their idea and business model, build or finalise a minimum viable product, and successfully launch their business.