aware: A Platform For A Sustainable Future
The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. And we will only be able to solve it collaboratively. The start-up aware aims to build an operation system that helps organizations and individuals to make better and conscious decisions. We talked to the founders Kim Fischer and Lena Schrum.
1. Kim, please tell us a bit about aware and what do you offer?
Kim: aware is Germany’s first sustainability platform that provides guidance to companies as well as consumers on their path to sustainability. Both businesses and individuals understand on a rational level the need to live more sustainably. However, many approaches seem very radical at first glance and involve a major change in behavior.
As a result, companies find it difficult to even get started and consumers also quickly fail due to their own expectations. This is where aware comes in. We offer an easy introduction to the topic of sustainability and make it an appealing part of life.
2. Sustainability is such a complex topic. Why did you decide to build a start-up in this area?
Kim: Climate change is inarguably the greatest challenge facing our planet in the 21st century. It is a global challenge that cuts across all industries. We need to stop it, which is why we built a start-up in this area to support this global mission! The need for genuine, transformative sustainability is more serious than ever. The pressure on companies to act is hugely increasing from several sides at the same time: regulators, customers and investors are demanding verifiable sustainability. We provide guidance, not extremely, with a raised forefinger, but with sensitivity. Until today sustainability has a nerdy image, we believe it can be fun and aesthetic at the same time. Mingled with our spirit of Zeitgeist and our sense for trends, we create impact — together with our partners, members and our network.
Lena: My personal motivation lies in my childhood: my father is an entrepreneur in the field of regenerative energies. I learned a lot from him and I’m convinced that this is the most important challenge of our time. Governments, corporates, communities as well as individuals — everyone sees the crucial need to act, but often they do not know in which way. That is where we step in and provide guidance on how to turn expertise into action and help to accelerate innovation by establishing a diverse community across all industries. We urgently need collaboration to make a change and create an impact.
3. Just recently, you launched a membership model, which is central to your platform. What does it include and who is the target audience for this?
Lena: Our membership provides companies with knowledge in sustainability through various event formats, such as masterclasses or workshops. On the other hand, it offers a cross-industry network, a community to share best practices, but also to find opportunities for new business. It is aimed at all companies that are still in the process of their sustainable transformation and are looking for impulses and a cross-industry network to exchange ideas and work together on sustainable projects. From corporations to medium-sized businesses to start-ups.
Kim: Within the framework of an online platform including a store, consumers receive impulses on how they can make their lives more sustainable step by step. We curate exciting content for a sustainable lifestyle and introduce consumers to products that are environmentally friendly, but at the same time meet their aesthetic requirements. In total, we will host 19 different hybrid event formats throughout the year to ensure a continuous exchange, exclusive insights in the field of sustainability as well as solutions.
4. You have already worked a lot with other companies at the aware conference. How can the cooperation between start-ups and grown-ups succeed?
Lena: I guess in the same way every cooperation succeeds: through communication, collaboration, and co-innovation. However, there is one decisive factor and that is to find the perfect match. As our partner or member, you can benefit from exactly this curated network you need in order to succeed. We guide you to find your perfect match, no matter if you are a corporate or a start-up.
Kim: Our conference is the perfect example of combining fun and aesthetics as well as creating impact at the same time. We are establishing a
diverse community through curated, cross-industry events, matching the right people, providing the breeding ground for innovation and collaboration. Since we think in use cases, we can respond quickly to market needs and challenges, literally a small speedboat. That is one of our main strengths and we deeply believe this leads to success.
6. What fascinates you about being a founder?
Lena: Getting up every day for something I am burning for, plus being able to get my own ideas out on the road quickly is priceless. Observing our team and seeing how they also burn for the cause, fills me with lots of pride. I’m fascinated by the fact that new ideas are constantly emerging, that we remain as flexible and open-minded as we are. We do our best to model a genuine love for our work and not give up when things are difficult.
Kim: Currently, I feel a bit like a janitor who makes sure that everything runs smoothly and nothing breaks. As a start-up you have fewer people, meaning everybody’s role is immensely important. This leads to being more responsible, reliable, versatile, and willing to explore as well as to improve. I’m fascinated by the energy that arises in such a fast-growing mode. Doing good and giving something back to society just feels right.
7. What misconception did you have about entrepreneurship?
Kim: One of my greatest strengths is my impatience. Sometimes I think we do not move fast enough. I would not name it a misconception; however, I would rather save the world today than tomorrow.
Lena: Well, in the beginning, one of my concerns was that the two of us would be all alone with our idea and the entire workload. This turned out to be a total misconception! Right from the start, we were surrounded by a brilliant network of supporters, advisors, and friends — so that concern turned out to be totally wrong. Bottom line: We were and are tremendously aware of what we are doing, and we love doing it.
8. What are the next steps for aware?
Kim: We want to become the global lighthouse in sustainability. Analogue and digital.
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