International Women's Day: NX-FOOD female entrepreneurs share their experiences, inspirations and best practices

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Occasional smirking looks, lifelong learning and so much passionate yet hard work!

On the occasion of the International Women's Day, we talked to two of NX-FOOD female entrepreneurs about their highlights and challenges and asked them to share a piece of advice with fellow female entrepreneurs.

Renate Steger, co-founder of an algae-based product brand Helga

One of our highlights was Anuga 2015 in Cologne, that was the year when we founded our start-up. As naive Austrians, we went there to present our innovative algae-based product in Germany as quickly as possible, as Austria was quite a small market for us. We have also received a “taste 15” award as one of the most innovative products.

The diversity of the event overwhelmed us: people from all over the world came over to us to taste our algae products and we did not bring any single flyer because “it is a German fair”. We received incredibly positive feedback from the visitors and participants!

As pioneers, we always had to fight the stereotype that algae taste bad. We still end up doing this, after four years on the market. I wonder how many times we heard “oh, it tastes better than expected” once we convinced people to give it a try. We have eventually stopped arguing and proving our point. Our products speak for themselves, consumers just have to leave their prejudices behind and open up to a new experience.

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We get inspired by images on Pinterest, talks and presentations of other female entrepreneurs and role models, trade fairs and conversations with our customers at various events. In the field of algae-based products, we serve as an inspiration. Our advertising slogan “Algae is that oldest superfood in the world“ has recently been used by our competitor. Made us proud!

Together with another Helga co-founder Anneliese, we practise lifelong learning and constantly research scientific sources, attend symposia and university lectures in different fields: Anneliese works in the area natural sciences while I am passionate about social science.

Since we rarely take advice, we are also cautious when it comes to giving hem. Women’s Day might be a good occasion to call for women’s solidarity: as female entrepreneurs, you can define and shape your working environment. Make it female-friendly and set a leading example in sourcing.

Liza Brandstätter, founder of rosé wine with apple flavour ROST

Launching a consumer product in the F&B area that appeals to people is my absolute highlight. It always makes me extremely happy when I see a person in a bar or store ordering my drink or when someone walks through the city with a bottle of ROST in their bag. It feels great to turn a personal passion into a job.

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One of the major challenges is the wide range of brands in the beverage industry and how rapidly it changes. But how does the saying go? Competition stimulates the business!

The perception of me as a woman in this industry is also special— is it that rare? I still get smirking looks every now and then 😉

Which advice could I give to fellow female entrepreneurs? Just get started! Sounds easy? Because it is so! Of course, it is important to have a business plan to calculate certain metrics and make economic forecasts. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is even more crucial to trust your gut when you make decisions.

I ask myself: “Which marketing approach would attract me? How do I want to perceive F&B products? Which factors and values of the company I find important?” I actively switch to the consumer side to collect these insights. Due to the fast-moving nature of food products, it is important to make quick decisions but also exciting to observe immediate results of your work.

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