"Bonuses we don't want to put in our own pockets"

Sophie Gnest is co-founder of Pack & Satt, a start-up that wants to make the "one pot" big. In this interview, she talks about her purpose-built company, why she doesn't want to take the profits herself - and why sustainability always requires compromises.

Sophie Gnest and Ronja Harder came up with the first idea for Einpott three years ago. They were both annoyed by the fact that dishes only met one of two criteria: Either they could be prepared quickly - or they were healthy. They couldn't quite find the two together, and so they came up with the idea for Einpott and thus for their own start-up, which they founded together with Eva Maier in the fall of 2020. The Einpott is quite simple to explain: It is a yogurt jar containing dried vegetables and, for example, oatmeal with spices. If the hungry person pours hot water over it, the inside changes color and becomes a quick snack or lunch - vegan, organic and without additives. The founders are currently crowdfunding to raise enough money for the first production run.

Ms. Gnest, after numerous rounds of testing, are you already sick of the pot?

On the contrary. Just yesterday, I was totally delighted to find older Einpotts at home. At that time, the recipe was different, but they were still durable. I brought them directly to my co-founders in the office. So far I've eaten about 100 of them. At the moment, we have to economize a bit in order to always have enough samples on hand for distributors.

There are countless ready-made products in every supermarket. Why do we need the one-pot now?

It is precisely these ready-made products that have always been our torment. We celebrate ready-made products because they go so fast. However, most products are neither organic, nor vegan, and there is also an extremely large amount of packaging waste. A healthy and environmentally conscious diet is very important to us, even if we ourselves do not always manage to implement that in everyday life. We eat a vegan or vegetarian diet and try to avoid additives and unnecessary packaging waste whenever possible. Exactly for these needs we always lacked something in the supermarket shelves and therefore we simply developed something ourselves.

What makes you so sure that people care about organic vegan food from a jar?

We are ourselves conviction doers and target first of all bio and Unverpacktläden. The people who shop there tend to already be thinking about this issue, and that's exactly who we want to address. Later, we want to build a bridge and also pick up those who like to eat ready-made products and have not yet paid much attention to health-conscious nutrition.

But of course, we've also found that we can't implement every aspect of sustainability perfectly.

Sophie Gnest, Co-Founder Pack & Satt

How sustainable can you make your product? We use the deposit glass to save on disposable packaging and to prevent plastic from spilling into the food when it is poured hot. We use the instant meal principle to save on transport weight due to the lack of water and to simply make our products last longer. Our vegan organic ingredients have a better eco-balance than conventional and animal products. We also avoid sugar and additives as well as fillers. But of course, we have also found that we cannot perfectly implement every aspect of sustainability. In the beginning, we wanted to source all ingredients exclusively regionally. In theory, this works for most ingredients, but in practice it is considerably more expensive and, depending on the quantities purchased, simply not available on the market. So we are constantly making compromises, but we want to communicate them openly.

This is what the pot looks like from above. (Photo: Pack & Satt)

A yogurt jar like this isn't very big. Will it fill me up?

Especially the potato and oat flakes are filling. Depending on the variety, a jar has about 300 kilocalories. In terms of quantity, we both took our cue from comparable products and let our 200 or so testers decide that the amount is a good one for the lunch break: it's filling for most but without a food coma.

The jar should go back into the deposit system. How does it work?

Many people don't know that yogurt jars are normally in the deposit system. This has been established for years. These so-called MMP jars can be returned in all stores.

They are currently trying to raise money for an initial production via crowdfunding. Over 14,000 of 24,000 euros have been raised so far, but you have already had to extend the campaign. How disappointed were you that it didn't work out in the regular time?

Of course, there's a little disappointment in that. But we learned a lot of things. For example, we launched in the pre-Christmas period and didn't realize at all how low the reach is in the pre-Christmas period. We also learned that we need to explain our product even better, and we're improving that right now. But I'm positive that we can still do it. Currently, we are in the valley of tears. That's what Startnext, the platform that runs the campaign, calls this phase. That means you usually get a lot of supporters at the beginning and at the end - but we're in the middle of it right now and the support is flattening out a bit.

Shareholders either have a right to a voting share or a share in the profits. Both are not possible. That is laid down in our Articles of Association.

Sophie Gnest

You have set yourself up as a purpose company. What is that?

It means that we founded our company as a purpose-owned company - in other words, Pack & Satt owns itself, so to speak. Shareholders either have a right to a voting share or a share in the profits. Both are not possible. This is laid down in our Articles of Association. The Purpose Foundation, with which we co-founded, has a one-percent share and a veto right. This is to ensure that we don't stray too far from our idea or that the company can simply be sold for economic gain and then perhaps no longer operate as sustainably as before. Investors can still share in the profits, but then they don't get voting rights.

According to your campaign, you yourself would prefer to reinvest the profits. Don't you want to be paid for your work?

Since we can't live on air and love, we will of course pay ourselves salaries. But that's enough for us; we don't want to put bonuses or anything like that in our own pockets. We prefer to invest pure profits in projects that work to preserve nutrient-rich soils. In this way, we want to put part of it back into the cycle and make it possible for us to continue harvesting sustainable raw materials in the future - so that we can keep producing new Einpotts.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Personal details: Sophie Gnest is 31 years old, studied communication design and founded her start-up together with Ronja Harder and Eva Maier.

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