Nowadays, it is simultaneously difficult and easy to establish a successful vegan start-up. It’s difficult because there are already many competitors, and easy because (digital) information processing has never been faster and easier than it is today. What many founders want, however, especially in the critical initial phase, is personal exchanges with like-minded people and a strong network to help them scale up their ideas. These two things have now been brought together by the “vegan entrepreneurs network” (v-entrepreneurs for short) – a network by vegan entrepreneurs for vegan entrepreneurs. In an interview, we found out more about this exciting project.
What is the idea behind “v-entrepreneurs”?
V-entrepreneurs emerged from a start-up event that we held in Zurich in 2015. Over the course of one weekend, our participants created vegan business models with the aim of setting them up later as a start-ups. We wanted to make the first steps into entrepreneurship easier for them. This led to the v-entrepreneurs network. After the event, we received feedback from many that they lacked a supportive network – and that’s how we fared when we started our first entrepreneurial vegan projects. We, Franziska and Mirjam, decided to organize regular network meetings at which start-up founders, entrepreneurs and interested parties could exchange and inspire each other.
We want to motivate people to dare to step into self-employment and implement their own vegan business ideas. The vegan market offers a lot of possibilities at the moment. Through entrepreneurship, we also have an incredible power to advance the range of vegan products available, and thus the vegan movement. Franziska and I are working on our own start-up, an online platform for vegan high-end fashion, and have the need to exchange ideas with others about the vegan market, innovations and start-ups. The v-entrepreneurs network is therefore a side project which we run with a lot of fun and passion. We hope that our commitment will inspire many more people to put their own ideas into practice.
Who are you targeting with v-entrepreneurs?
The v-entrepreneurs network addresses vegan entrepreneurs, people who want to implement a vegan business idea, and committed people who are generally interested in the topic of vegan start-ups. We regularly invite other start-ups so that we can learn from them. Open networking is important to us: this means that everyone can contribute their own ideas and initiatives. The members of our network are therefore invited to submit their own event proposals. In April, for example, we had a tempeh tasting by two female entrepreneurs from our network who wanted to test their newly developed product. While we tasted the tempeh, the founders told us about their entrepreneurial challenges. Sometimes, we just meet for lunch or a beer in the evening. In this case, the personal exchange is in the foreground.
Where are you currently represented?
The meetings take place once a month in Berlin and in Zurich, and we have already had our first meeting in Bern.
Would you like to add more?
The network is growing organically, and anyone can start a network meeting within the framework of v-entrepreneurs. At the moment, we are talking to a committed person in Amsterdam, and there are also plans for Cologne.
Can people from other cities/countries join the concept?
Yes, the v-entrepreneurs network is open and we are very happy when other people organise network meetings in their cities. We are happy to share our experience and promote the events on our website and on our social media channels. The organisation of the meetings is then independent of us and can be arranged individually. We want vegan entrepreneurs to come together and learn and profit from each other. Together we can really make a difference!
What are the next events on your programme, and what dates will there be?
July: How to set up a freelancing or consulting business
August: Asian BBQ with Tempeh, incl. talk about Foodwaste
September: Business Development and Strategy Workshop
30 July: Meet&Greet on the river Spree
August 27: Online Marketing Strategies: Marketing Funnels, Lead Generation and Automation
September: the next big thing: The vegan fashion scene and fashion start-ups