Sophie Zepnik - hejhej-mats
Sophie Zepnik - hejhej-mats #1
Describe yourself and your project. How did you get the idea?
We are Anna and Sophie and just finished our Master in Leadership for Sustainability in Malmö. Our business hejhej-mats aims to create a closed loop, zero-waste yoga mat. This product will be made out of recycled material as well as will be recyclable, so all nutrients can flow into production again, without creating any new waste. The idea emerged as we felt affected by not having the opportunity to buy a fully sustainable yoga mat.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
I am Sophie Zepnik, 24 years old, and did my Bachelor Degree in Social Economics with a focus on Sustainability Management. During this time, I studied 6 months in Spain where I got to know my friend and business partner Anna. Before coming to Sweden to do my Masters, I did an internship in a sustainability consulting agency where I had the chance to work with interesting projects that were all related to sustainability.
I am Anna Souvignier, 25 years old. Before coming to Sweden I did my Bachelor Degree in Marketing Management in Hamburg. During my Bachelor Programme I did a semester abroad in Madrid, where I got to know my business partner Sophie. After Madrid, I moved to Barcelona to do a three months internship in a globally operating marketing agency. Back in Hamburg, I worked in a start-up and was responsible for their marketing and PR activities.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
Anna and me will use the time to put the finishing touches on our prototype, as we plan to enter the market in August. We are going to use the three months to do intense Research and Development to establish a return system. Adding to that we will use this time for formal administrations such as protecting hejhej as a trademark and registering our company officially.
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
During the three months of the leapfrogs scholarship we aim to get our yoga mats ready to enter the market, this should happen in August. All related activities such as implementing the web shop need to be set up at the same time. Additionally, we aim have a coherent return system implemented when entering the market in order to make sure our nutrients circle in endless production streams.
Sophie Zepnik - hejhej-mats #2
Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.
Since Leapfrogs is unfortunately ending in August, we need to find other financial support in order to continue working full-time on hejhej-mats. Thus, we applied for different start-up competitions such as the Green Alley Award. Since the applications always require a lot of resources, this was our focus during the first Leapfrog time. During the second leapfrog workshop we got asked about crowdfunding. We heard this question already several times, which is why we will use the next period of leapfrogs to start a crowdfunding campaign.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
For us, it was easier than expected to find these different financial supports online, there is a great offer and a lot of prices to apply to. However, the long enduring application processes took way longer than we calculated with. Moreover, the investigation about the registration of the business was also quite complicated. Besides that, the prototyping process went according to the plan and will be continued in the next month.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
In our remaining time, we will focus on the registration of the business as well as the prototyping. However, what has been changed along the way is the fact, that we have decided that we need more financial support for the following months and one of our ways to solve this will be crowdfunding. Thus, we will use the remaining time for the investigation and planning of our video spot as well as for the implementation of the campaign.
Sophie Zepnik - hejhej-mats #3
How did you experience the three months?
The three months during leapfrogs were a great opportunity to work fulltime on our project. The three months gave us the possibility to test whether we will continue working on hejhej-mats in the future and gave us enough time to prototype and test the feasibility of the product. It was a good experience to fully concentrate on the work of the project itself without having to worry about any other time-consuming requirements.
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
Regarding our project, we found further testing possibilities for our yoga mats, which will require more financial resources. So we needed to find financial support for the time after leapfrogs. It was hard to make a decision between various funding opportunities. Finally, we decided to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign. We are enjoying the preparation for the campaign a lot as it involves a lot of creative work.
In the light of the leapfrogs workshops, we enjoyed the talks of the different entrepreneurs as they were motivating and inspiring.
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
As we do a lot of our work with third parties, such as different suppliers and funding institutions, not everything went as expected – which does not mean that things went bad. Taking different tracks than expected sometimes provided us with new opportunities. We will continue with hejhej-mats in the future, we have already started our website and our social media activities, and will hopefully start selling recycled yoga mats soon.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
One of the most important lessons we learned during the three months was to be persistent. We learnt that until you get a “no” you should still aim for the “yes”. Additionally, as we had to make a lot of crucial decisions, we got better in the decision-making process and learnt to be more confident in what we decided for.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
As we are both new to the entrepreneurial scene, for us, it was the most helpful to talk to as many people as possible about the idea. This helped us to enlarge our entrepreneurial as well as our professional network. Additionally, it is really motivating for us that we are aiming to solve a problem which affects us, the whole yoga community and the planet.