Our seven questions are for the startup Wisefood this time around. The food company just recently moved to the Gate technology and startup center and has developed an environmentally friendly straw. The straw holds in a drink for about an hour and can then simply be eaten. The founders already presented their Made in Germany straws on the German TV show “The Lion’s Den” (Die Höhle der Löwen). One of the founders, Philipp Silbernagel, told us more in our interview.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
We’re a food startup that was founded in April 2017. We’ve developed an environmentally friendly straw. The “Superstraw” is an innovative alternative to plastic straws. It remains stable for sixty minutes in a drink and can be eaten.
“The world’s first straw made of plant fiber”
At Wisefood, we’ve developed the first edible “Superstraw” with fruit fiber that not only tastes good, but also helps preserve the environment. By using fruit fiber, we’re able to offer a delicious and high-fiber alternative to conventional plastic straws while also avoiding unnecessary plastic waste. Our innovation also makes drinks even more enjoyable and draws attention that can be used to relay promotional messages.
We’ve been developing and manufacturing our innovative straw since 2017 and work continuously on improving it. Our customers are the retail food industry and food service establishments such as hotels and restaurants. We also sell our innovation directly to end customers through our online shop.
2. But that’s already been done!
While other biologically degradable straws do already exist, they aren’t edible or don’t degrade quickly. They’re often simply burned. An alternative are straws made out of glass or stainless steel. But due to the amount of effort needed to clean them, they are rather unsuitable for food service.
We’ve reinvented an everyday product. Straws aren’t a grand novelty, but they are an integral part of daily life. Because our straws are the world’s first straws made of plant fiber and are not only manufactured sustainably, but are also edible, we can say: Preserving the environment doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give things up!
The “Superstraw”: Made in Germany with local products
With apple pomace and grain, we use natural raw materials that are easy to source in Germany. Apple pomace would — as a waste product from apple juice production — simply be thrown away otherwise. Thanks to our Superstraw, we can make good use of that raw material.
Our innovative and sustainable lifestyle product quite strongly contradicts the wasteful use of resources in the manufacturing of plastic straws. Because we use waste materials, we see ourselves at a great advantage compared to non-plastic alternatives made out of glass, paper or metal.
3. What are the three main ingredients in your recipe for success?
A major ingredient in our recipe for success is definitely our perseverance.
We started initial production the year we founded the startup in 2017. Even when we faced challenges, like how difficult it was to find the right manufacturing site or the perfect formula for the longest possible stability, we still struggled through. That perseverance is what ultimately got us to the point where we’re now able to manufacture millions of straws each month.
A high demand thanks to trending sustainability
Another ingredient for success is of course that our product is not only innovative, but that it also — particularly now that sustainability has become such an important topic — has been met with high demand.
The third ingredient forms the basic building block for our success: our young and dynamic team. We all share a vision of sustainability and a great desire to avoid waste, which is why we strongly identify with the product.
4. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?
We manufactured five million straws in 2018. That means several million plastic straws were replaced by our environmentally friendly alternative. Our goal is to tackle significant growth this year. Having major customers — such as Edeka and Rewe in Bavaria — as well as many hotels and restaurants as our buyers, means we’ve laid a sound foundation. We’re going to build on that.
5. What does Munich mean to you?
Munich is where both our manufacturing site and office are located. That allows for good and fast cooperation with our local partners. Unternehmertum is also close by. With their team of experienced entrepreneurs, researchers and managers, they help us refine our ideas while also providing guidance and resources. We also have other important and personal contacts that connect us to the beautiful city of Munich.
Wisefood: Waste prevention with edible straws
6. How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?
With our Superstraw, we’ve created an edible and environmentally friendly replacement for plastic straws. Our goal is to continue doing so on a large scale. We’ve already prevented millions of unnecessary plastic straws, but we also want to massively increase that number. With an average of one billion plastic straws used daily, we certainly have enough to do!
When it comes to our personal development, we’ve seen a high demand that even includes our first customers from abroad. We have prospective buyers from the Czech Republic, Poland, Finland and also from Asia.
What makes us special is our good “Made in Germany” quality in conjunction with our strong network of partners and customers.
7. Hiking or beer garden?