Campus - 23.01.2023 - 11:10 

HSG graduate’s start-up fosters the recycling economy

The start-up Loopia has developed an app that is intended to contribute towards products being used for a longer period of time. Co-founder and HSG graduate Cristiana Grossenbacher speaks of a “mission” that drives the young company.

In Europe, an average household possesses approximately 10,000 objects; according to a study by anthropologist Anthony Graesch, US households have three times as many. One of the results of this, Graesch said in a Swiss television interview, was the fact that “mountains of things” were forgotten in garages and cellars, went on the blink and were never repaired, or became obsolete. The start-up Loopia launched an app in spring 2022 which is intended to help people deal with this profusion: users can record their possessions on the app, which then interlinks the goods with sales and sharing platforms, guarantee services or repair instructions.

“We, too, noticed that we live in a superabundance of possessions, but none of us really have time to sell, give away or repair things,” says Cristiana Grossenbacher, one of four Loopia co-founders and an HSG graduate. “Our aspiration is to enable people to manage their products sensibly in one single place with the app – with the result that these products will be in use for a considerably longer period of time.”

According to its website, the start-up wants to contribute towards transforming the “throwaway society into a recycling economy” – the company, which was set up in 2020, writes of a “mission”. This is also underlined by Grossenbacher. “Of course we want to be a profitable enterprise, but it’s important to us that we don’t sell any new products – but provide services concerning products which are already owned by someone.”

App makes users aware of environmental consequences

So far, Loopia has primarily been concentrating on electrical appliances, “for their production and disposal require many natural resources,” says Grossenbacher. The product database of the app covers more than a million objects today and is continuously being extended; sports equipment and toys can also be registered there in an automated way.

If a product is not in the database yet, users can record it manually. Documents such as receipts and guarantee certificates can also be stored there. “It’s also conceivable that in the future, the app will remind users of when a guarantee period is about to expire – or ask them regularly whether they still need a certain product,” says Grossenbacher, adding that these ideas are still at the development stage.

At present, the app already displays repair services in the users’ vicinity and provides links to repair instructions. Step by step, the app is intended to link users up with sales, lending and donation platforms and to display recycling options. In addition, users can see at a glance what their product collection is worth and what carbon footprint it causes. “We often consume things unawares. People who are aware of the price of a product and its impact on the environment are more likely to be motivated to sell it or have it repaired instead of buying new products,” says Grossenbacher.

HSG interlinks founders

The app is free of charge for users; the start-up’s profits are intended to derive from partnerships with commercial and service companies. Thus Loopia cooperates with the Swiss sharing platform Sharely, the Swiss electronics dealer STEG, the upcycling start-up Revendo – which resells used electronic appliances – and the Bâloise insurance company; others are intended to follow.

There’s a lot going on at Loopia, the young start-up with nine members of staff: a new funding round is being planned for 2023; the main supporter to date is the Migros Pioneer Fund. And in January, the app is also intended to be available for Android devices. “We wanted to focus our development work, which very often was a matter of trial and error, on one single platform,” explains Grossenbacher.

The courage to conduct entrepreneurial experiments was also instilled into her at the HSG, says Grossenbacher. “In my degree course, the option of starting up a company was very much present,” says the 29-year-old, who holds a Master’s degree in Business Innovation. Additionally, the HSG is a good place for interlinking with other potential founders. Thus acquaintances from her university days also set up their own companies or are currently working for start-ups. “This network is helpful for discussing business challenges, which are often similar for start-ups.”

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