1) Why and when did you start this business?
I started PeelPioneers in 2017, together with Sytze van Stempvoort and Bas van Wieringen. We saw that people in North West Europe started drinking big amounts of fresh juice, causing a huge pile of citrus peels, that weren’t there before. These peels were disposed in an incinerator or digestor, which is a waste, as there are great ingredients in there. PeelPioneers takes this peel and turns into valuable compounds like oil, which can be used in soap, food and other applications.
2) What has been your biggest success since you’ve started?
End of 2018, we opened our first production facility, processing 4000-5000 kilo peels per hour. For that, we had to close an investment round, secure our input and find cooperations with companies willing to use our products.
Our next challenge is to upscale this production facility, processing three times more peel and producing a broader variety of products.
3) What was your biggest challenge when you started your business?
Just before the start of building our production facility, all pieces of the puzzle had to fit at once to be able to give a go. Pieces of the puzzle included technology readiness, committed investments, closed sales, feedstock security, regulatory readiness and team building. A lot of subjects at once to manage, with a lot of interrelations. We managed to fix this by setting clear goals for ourselves, agree on focus areas per co-founder and staying close in the process. Additionally, we were lucky to get support from the right people in the right organisations at the right time.
4) Do you have any tips for successful work habits you have developed since starting your business?
This is a difficult question to answer, as I do not think the way I did it is the way to go for everybody. I guess my main message is: do not forget that that there are other things in life besides building your business. So take a break now and then.
5) What advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs or startup founders?
There are a few things which I think have helped us build our business.
- You need a deeply founded belief in your idea, to keep going when others stop
- You cannot do it alone. Find people you trust and have competences you do not have.
- You have to be able to be brutally honest. By being able to analyse where things might go wrong, you are able to anticipate on them, where otherwise, they may catch you by surprise.