Why did you found your startup, which problem do you address and how do you solve it?
Our two founders Fabian Eckert and Florian Pachaly had the idea with RECUP during their studies. They were bothered by the disproportionately high consumption of disposable cups and the resulting mountains of rubbish. Both wanted to contribute to environmental protection and the conservation of resources as well as to change something – so they came up with the idea of the deposit system.
Take-away food and a delivery services are obviously highly demanded today. Once again, you gather tons of disposable packaging and plastic at home, so it was only a matter of time before the company wanted to find a solution for this problem, too. That is how the idea of REBOWL was born in 2019.
The digital deposit system for reusable take-away packaging represents a resource-saving alternative to conventional disposable to-go packaging in the food sector. The principle is very simple: order take-away food and deposit, enjoy the meal on the way in the REBOWL, return the REBOWL to a participating partner and get the deposit back. The caterer takes over the professional washing up and is in his role an essential cornerstone of the system.
Breaking up firmly established patterns of behavior, finding and offering sustainable alternatives and acting as a role model for other sustainable ideas – this is the driving force behind the daily work of RECUP and REBOWL.
What is special about your business model, what do you do differently?
Our focus is on social impact and we actively contribute to a sustainable development of our society. We do this with a lot of passion, team spirit and fun! We want to show as a team, that it is possible to be economically independent even with a sustainable business model and we are doing quite well so far. With our company we are able to push forward ecological, economic and social change. Therefore, we want to be a pioneer and role model for other sustainable ideas and projects in addition to our work.
In terms of the system, REBOWL differs from other reusable bowls in the fact that it has a particularly long life cycle, as it can survive 200 passes. REBOWL deliberately decided to work with a self-developed product rather than using an already existing one from the market. Their own product is not only a hundred percent recyclable but is also made of 100% recycled plastic and is more scratch-resistant than other products. This guarantees a high level of resource conversation on a basis of “Bowl2Bowl”. This cradle2cradle principle makes it possible to reconcile the health aspect of consumer safety and sustainability through durability and resource conservation.
REBOWL focuses on simplicity instead of complexity and that is what makes the system very user-friendly. Having RECUP as a strong, already established brand at our side is great. This way there is a recognition value and people understand the system already. We can also use the network effect here and take our RECUP community with us on the way with REBOWL. Together we will take the reusable way on the #coffeetogo revolution and the #rebowlution in Germany.
What was the most valuable advice somebody gave to you during your foundation phase?
Fabi was once told by a investor, that sometimes you just have to keep going. In the beginning there are always phases which are extremely exhausting and stressful, in which you often ask yourself: ‘Why am I doing this?’. In this moment it helps to say to yourself: ‘Just carry on’. And most of the time, a few days later, the world looks completely different again and you can face all coming tasks and challenges strengthened and motivated. We believe that this is an important thing, because it is the only way to develop yourself, learn from mistakes, and grow slowly but steadily.
What was your greatest success so far?
We are continuously developing our brands. The fact that we, together with so many partners, are able to fight more and more consistently against the mountains of rubbish created by disposable packaging is our greatest success. With REBOWL we want to continue writing this success story.
Any recommendations for other founders?
Search for partners who absolutely match yourself and continue, even if it seems hopeless in the beginning, because the founding phase is a constant up and down.
Where did you two meet first?
Flo and Fabi contacted the same person with the same idea, who then brought the two together. The small team has grown steadily. Today almost 40 employees belong to the RECUP and REBOWL family, who together with a lot of heart and soul, work for the coffee-to-go revolution and since last year also for the rebowlution.
Where do you see your startup in 3 years?
The vision of REBOWL is to change our environment with the digital, circular and area-wide deposit system for take-away trays, to break up consumer habits and to save resources together with our partners by going the reusable way and taking others with us. We will be on this mission in three years. We are also super curious how everything will develop!
Do you have an office cat/dog/turtle..?
Two office dogs belong to our team. Frido, who lovingly beats up his whole flock every day and Freya, who loves each cuddling session from her human colleagues.
What gave you the idea to expand your product range?
We save an incredible number of disposable cups with RECUP. So why not go even further and declare war on packaging waste in the food sector? Especially now, in times of the Corona Virus, we all once again became aware of how necessary sustainable alternatives are and how much demand for them is now also among caterers and end consumers. Everywhere overcrowded garbage bins and plastic packaging as far as the eye can see – this is a state of affairs we neither want nor are allowed to be satisfied with.
How far are you currently in product development? When will REBOWL be available in restaurants and cafés?
There are exciting news from the reusable front! The current situation due to the corona crisis shows: There is more demand on REBOWL than ever before. That is the reason why we are continuing and are now equipping all of our REBOWL partners and those who want to become one with our well-known green REBOWLs. These bowls are only a temporary solution for us – also due to Corona. We are developing a bowl that is robust, made from 100% recycled material and is fully recyclable.
What you can find on the market at the moment is not yet optimally suited for the reusable sector and is therefore not satisfying for us. Therefore, from November onwards there will be an improved REBOWL, which meets the requirements of a circulating deposit system even better. For everyone who already wants to participate in the system, this means: on the bowls, ready, go! Get in touch with us and become a REBOWL partner. This is how we declare war on the huge mountains of packaging waste. And in November we will take care of a free exchange of the previous REBOWL to the optimized bowl of the future. Be excited!
Which challenges do you currently face?
The biggest challenge at the moment is time. We are working at full speed on the product and the brand, to be able to launch the REBOWL rocket on its mission of rebowlution on time in November. Due to the COVID crisis, we also had to limit our working hours and now we have to cope with less time and all the tasks and challenges ahead.
Yet, this is also a lot of fun and increases the motivation enormously once again. The various test phases, which we have already gone through, provide us with a lot of revealing information. This information needs to be constantly analysed, implemented and based on this develop the Bowl of the future – sustainable, user-friendly and innovative – our REBOWL.
Does the current Corona crisis have an impact on you and your project and if so, how do you deal with it?
As already described, the Corona crisis limits us time-wise. Nevertheless, the whole team is working motivated and determined on the REBOWL and the deposit system.
On the other hand, we see that the Corona pandemic is also an important wake-up call. People are becoming even more aware of how important it is to avoid plastic and protect the environment. Many people are now becoming more aware of sustainable alternatives. We of course also feel the effects of this, which makes us very happy. Many restaurants and RECUP partners approach us with inquiries and report that a sustainable solution like REBOWL is urgently needed.