Last week, the Krapina-Zagorje County Entrepreneurship Center hosted a SWUP event that brought together tenants of the Krapina-Zagorje County Business and Technology Incubator and startups…Read more
“Waste? Papperlapapp!” thought product designer DI (FH) Elisabeth Flik, MA and set out to successfully put her vision of recyclable, stable and long-lasting toys that are made one hundred percent from local corrugated cardboard into practice. Her entrepreneurial journey also led her to the Social Business Hub Styria, where she was one of the first participants in the “Impact incubation program” in May 2022. In the following interview, Elisabeth talks about the most important milestones of “Papperlapapp Spiel Möbel GmbH”, her time in the incubation program and what goals her company is aiming for next.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Elisabeth: I once ordered a cheap cardboard house myself, which unfortunately broke during assembly. But our children still played with it for ages, even though in the end it was really just a pile of rubble. I thought to myself that this could definitely be done better and more sustainably. So the idea slowly developed and the cardboard house ultimately became a cardboard ship.
Very cool! And how did you become aware of the “Impact incubation program” of the Social Business Hub Styria?
I received prototype funding from AWS some time ago. To test this prototype I started a crowdfunding campaign where a few boats were sold. Rüdiger Wetzl-Piewald, managing director of the Social Business Hub Styria, had bought one of these boats so far before. He was pretty enthusiastic about it and wrote me an email asking if I would like to meet him and Kirsten (SBHS board member) for coffee. There they told me what the Social Business Hub actually was and then it actually happened pretty quickly. First I took part in workshops and then I applied for the incubation program.
How did you find the application process for the incubation program?
Actually very simple. During the bootcamp event, we analysed my idea again and created a precise business model. That was a good help. After creating all the application documents, you had to prepare a pitch because you could already test it in front of the participants during the workshops. I then refined the pitch and then pitched it to the expert jury.
You were then accepted into the one-year impact incubation program. What were the biggest benefits of this program for you?
It was a mix between the workshops and regular individual mentoring. Above all, the individual sessions, in which specific goals were always agreed, were extremely helpful because they gave me orientation.
During this time, you also successfully applied for AWS Seed Financing “Innovative Solutions” funding. What expectations did you have when approaching the matter?
I used the year in the incubation program to prepare myself as well as possible for the application process. Also because I thought that even if I didn’t get the funding, I could still use the documents for other things. I really put a lot of energy into it and ultimately got the funding.
You have already briefly mentioned the support of the Social Business Hub. In which area was the support most important for you?
I was able to benefit enormously from the hub, especially when it came to financial planning and the exact designation of the work packages. The precise feedback on the final pitch was also a really big benefit.
What have been the biggest milestones since you completed the incubation program?
The first big milestone was, of course, moving into our own business and office space – I also call it a “studio” – in August. And now I have a team and it allows me to think much bigger.
How difficult was it to find the space for your studio?
I actually looked for rooms in advance “pro forma” for the economic review of the funding application and found these rooms online. After I received the funding, the property was actually still available, which I was very happy about because it was exactly what I wanted.
How does it feel that the work no longer depends on you alone, but is spread across several shoulders?
The fact that I now have a team around me definitely has the biggest impact. There are now five of us – three employees, a freelancer and me. For all the things that I used to always put off and that aren’t in my bubble, I now have employees who specialize in them and that of course has an extremely positive effect on productivity! In just a few months, as much has happened as in a whole year before.
And what are the next goals?
The next big goal, which is currently one hundred percent of our focus, is the “Playtime Fair” in Paris at the end of January 2024. This is a pretty hip and happening toy fair. It’s actually a social media event where it’s also about who has the coolest booth, the coolest “tote bag” and the coolest “give-aways”. We put all our power into it so that we can have a mega stand there.
We wish you all the best and much success!
More information about what awaits participants in the Social & Green Business incubation program can be found >>here