- Founders: Maximilian Schupp (21), Andres Savid (26) en Ruymand Soltani (25)
- Founded in: oktober 2021
- Employees: 3
- Money raised: -
- Ultimate goal: Bringing edible cups into the aviation industry.
Until recently, millions of disposable cups were still being used in the Netherlands, until a ban on these plastic cups came into effect in July 2021. Three ambitious students have found an alternative to this: edible cups. Founder Maximilian Schupp (21) talks more about it in this episode of Startup of the day.
What is the idea behind Edibles?
Schupp: “The idea is quite simple: we want to reduce the waste of single-use tableware. So the cups is what we started with. I’m not from the Netherlands, but I noticed that the Dutch drink coffee, tea, chocolate milk and the like all day long. So our product always works. We saw that relatively speaking, a lot of paper and plastic cups were used – and thrown away. This created a lot of waste in bins which, in our view, was unnecessary. We think the only way to reduce paper and plastic waste is to take it out of the product.” This is how Swiss Maximilian Schupp (21) and his fellow students Andres Savid (26) and Ruymand Soltani (25) came up with the idea of putting edible cups into practice. “We want to give people the opportunity to choose a sustainable alternative,” Schupp says. After a hefty dose of research, Schupp and co managed to find a supplier to produce the cups. Currently, production still takes place abroad, but the aim is to bring it to the Netherlands.
What does the production process look like?
Schupp: “Currently, we are working with a Bulgarian manufacturer who knows all the ins and outs of the product. We combine that with our knowledge based on the market research we did beforehand. That’s pretty much what our cooperation looks like.” Schupp openly expresses his ambition to bring production to the Netherlands, but also explains why this is not possible at the moment: “We can’t just set up a factory from scratch, because that requires a substantial investment.” For now, Schupp is still importing the cups, also to see how the market reacts to the product. For now, reactions are positive, as Schupp already has collaborations with the HAN, the Radboud UMC and the Industriepark Kleefse Waard. “But don’t forget that we are students who also have to eat, so we can’t spend too much money right away,” Schupp says with a wink.
You said earlier that you want people to be able to choose a sustainable alternative. Suppose people want to choose sustainable, but don’t want to eat the cup. What is the breakdown process like?
Schupp: “It takes about three days to a week for the product to break down naturally. It is actually similar to a biscuit and the advantage is that if you burn such a cup, for example, it leaves no damage to the environment. But it doesn’t have to get to that point in the first place.” When developing the idea, Schupp already took good account of the fact that not everyone will want to eat their cup, but that’s no problem at all if you don’t want to. “You can simply throw it away guilt-free without it taking years to be broken down by nature,” Schupp explains. So are you no longer craving your coffee? Then you can throw away your cup without feeling guilty!
What problems have you encountered?
Schupp: “In terms of production, we didn’t necessarily run into any problems, because our manufacturer made sure it didn’t have to come to that. In fact, our manufacturer is responsible for the whole production process, we do everything around that. We are responsible for sales, marketing and things like that. In that area, we did run into some problems. The first problem was that sustainable products are often more expensive than plastic and paper. From there, it was important to start looking for a group of people who might be interested in your product. I think we did a pretty good job of that. I also think it’s a pretty typical problem that sustainability runs parallel to higher prices.” Every business naturally wants to keep its costs down and turnover as high as possible, but in the field of sustainability, that is still quite a challenge. That also motivates Schupp enormously.
How long did it take to set up this business?
Schupp: “In October a year ago, I met my fellow students who share the same vision. So one thing led to another and we came up with the idea of setting up Edibles. Our research also showed that our manufacturer was doing the same for similar ventures abroad, but not yet for the Netherlands. We saw our chance and seized this opportunity with both hands to make this possible in the Netherlands too.”
Starting a business is a learning process and also quite a challenge. This made Schupp and his fellow students think twice about whether this could really work. “There are definitely times when we asked ourselves if this could work, but that just motivates me more to give my full 100 per cent. You have to keep working hard and be better than your competition. Afterwards, there were definitely some difficult moments because I am also a full-time student. Then when you don’t see any income or profit, it can make you doubt. But what I say, if you keep working hard it will work out in the end.”
What sets Edibles apart from the competition?
Schupp: “Currently, there are only a handful of suppliers in this chain worldwide if I am not mistaken. Every organisation committed to the problem is pursuing the same goal. It is true that we are competitors to some extent, but we are all doing the same thing in different parts of the world. That way, we make the world a cleaner and better place. In the end, we are all trying to solve the same problem, which is why it would not be smart to call our company better than another.”
“Competition motivates me, but in the end we are all trying to solve the same problem.”Maximilian Schupp (21) – CEO
“Take for example a disposable cup with chocolate icing. You can use those in different ways. Some people like chocolate-flavoured coffee, others don’t. People want to have a choice and we, as a joint provider of edible cups, offer them that choice,” Schupp explains.