In this interview series, HSWT presents startups that are part of the Food Startup Incubator Weihenstephan(FSIWS). The series introduces the companies and their product ideas, how they work and how they overcome challenges.

In part 23, Mark and Sebastian report on their Munich-based startup 'Rio2Go'. The founders receive support from the Food Startup Incubator Weihenstephan.

Your product idea explained in a few sentences:

Our idea is to bring Brazilian superfoods to Europe, and with them the Brazilian joie de vivre itself. Currently, we are building a portfolio of products derived from the cassava root and already offer cassava flour and tapioca starch. Soon we will expand our portfolio even further.

What makes your product unique?

Our claim is to ensure the best quality of food and to focus on sustainability. Thus, we offer only organic products that are sold in sustainable packaging. In addition, all products derived from the cassava root are naturally gluten and allergen free.

How did you come up with this idea?

The idea for our startup was born a few years ago. Founder Mark was born and raised in Brazil. When he moved to Germany in 2010, he missed one of his favorite foods: Tapioca crepes - the crepes made from the Brazilian cassava root and filled with delicious ingredients. Year after year, he would bring the tapioca back to Munich in his suitcase when he visited his family in Brazil. Mark shared this story with co-founder Sebastian and that's how the idea to start Rio2Go was born.

What aspects of the product, packaging and distribution are particularly important to you with regard to a possible market launch?

For us it is very important that the overall story fits and therefore all aspects of the products and the company have to be aligned. We focus mainly on three points: Sustainability, the environmental footprint and the reference to the company's South American roots. Concrete examples of this are our organic products, our packs made with FSC paper and our Rio De Janeiro-inspired design.

What difficulties did you have to overcome in the product development process?

The biggest hurdle was finding a production facility. As a startup, you only have limited funds and it is very difficult to find an affordable space in Munich and the surrounding area. Here we are very grateful to have found the FSIWS.

How did you motivate yourselves when things weren't going so well?

There have been few cases where we were both unmotivated, so we have always been able to motivate each other well so far. It also helps a lot to hear stories and experiences from other startups. You realize that sometimes everyone has to go through difficult times.

Working together as a team certainly wasn't always easy, was it? How did you structure it so that it worked well?

So far, the teamwork has worked very well. The decisive factor here is that we trust each other absolutely and communicate very openly and transparently. We also have very different competencies according to which we divide up responsibilities and each respects the decisions of the other in their area.

What was the most triumphant or emotional moment for you so far?

Getting into the supermarket. Currently, our products are offered in the two Munich V-Markt stores and it is always a huge pleasure to see our own products on a supermarket shelf.

Do you exchange ideas with other startups or network with them? How?

We often exchange ideas with other startups at FSIWS. Usually it's informal conversations in the hallway or during production. With a few startups we already do joint actions and discuss possible partnerships.

What tips can you give to other startup founders in the food industry or elsewhere?

The first tip is to start as soon and early as possible, because in the end it will always be a "learning by doing". You can plan and prepare, but the reality is always different. Our second tip is don't do it alone, find a partner. It is best if you complement each other in your skills. And lastly, if it's a food startup, definitely apply for a spot in FSIWS.

What are your plans for the future of your startup?

We would first like to expand our portfolio and be included in more supermarkets. Once we are big enough, we would like to work directly with producers in Brazil to support them and also enable social programs in Brazil.



Info: Food Startup Incubator of the HSWT

At the beginning of June 2019, HSWT launched the Weihenstephan Food Startup Incubator (FSIWS). This enables students as well as employees of the HSWT and the institutions associated with the Weihenstephan campus to bring their business ideas in the food sector to market maturity. Through the FSIWS, external founders can recruit competent students from all areas of the food value chain as partners or employees, for example in the context of final theses or with the students as co-founders.

Link to the startup of the previous month:

Startups @ HSWT | Part 22: