Becoming a changemaker in 54h

Becoming a changemaker in 54h

From being selected as one of the 100 young sustainable change makers of Generation T, by The Shift and Act4Change to winning the Startup Weekend Changemakers, during the month of November, the project of Magma Nova, a design and research studio conceiving urban-wear using micro-organisms and biomaterials, has speed up to another level.

1 minute that will change your life

One small minutes to pitch my project at the auditorium of Vlerick Business School in front of all the participants, organisers and mentors of the Startup Weekend Changemakers, with the objective to recruit a team of divers profiles, business managers, engineers, developers, commercials, financial managers, complementary to my profile of a designer. Amongst the 35 pitched ideas, only 10 are selected, by vote, to be developed during the weekend.

A new team composes itself around Future of Materials: Gaëlle (Engineer), Sven (Engineer at a 3D printing company), Sanja (Public Policy), Iris (Business Manager), Céline (Material Engineer with a thesis in bio-materials) will help me to go from the status of an idea to the status of a real start-up.

Then on Friday evening starts the long debriefing of the current state of the project, the possible applications in design and architecture and the research that's already being done by others in the same matter. During the next hours we start to elaborate the famous Business Model Canvas, a strategy on how to go to the market fast using the Lean Methodology: what product? made by whom? sold to? why? partners? channels? exit plan? The choice goes to a bike helmet made out of mycelium, 100% bio-sourced and 100% bio-degradable, made locally, simple to produce in small series and to sell to consumers via a crowdfunding campaign. We investigate the size of the market, the financial aspects, the costs of production, interview the resellers and potential customers, the IP's, contact bio-engineers, bio-labs,...

After 54h of hard labour, 4h of sleep, the time has come to present our project to the jury of expert entrepreneurs, Roland Vaxelaire and Piet Colruyt (Impact Investors), Cedric Donck (Business Angel), Miguel Meuleman (Professor Entrepreneurship at Vlerick Business School), Virginie Samyn (Managing Director at Ashoka Belgium), Céline Bouton (Co-founder at SenseCube Brussels), Marieke Huysentruyt (Founder at Oksigen Lab) and Julie Foulon (Community Manager of Start it @kbc Brussels). A demanding jury, ready to cut into pieces the wobbly projects pitched in five minutes ;)

Top chrono, here it goes: "We fouled ourselves... (thank you Régis - pitch coacher - for this one liner)... during decades we've been producing products where we didn't know what to do with them at the end of the cycle. This are plastics, concrete, you name it.... But we think differently, to consume differently... We've designed a product that is tougher then concrete.... cheaper then plastic.... and biodegradable!... That product is made out of mushrooms !! Mushrooms are the greatest transformers of the planet, they are the primary recyclers. You don't need fossil fuels or food-stocks (like with bio-plastics) to produce them. They are manufactured by nature!" Then I explain how they are produced and designed. Céline, with her background of business and material science, continues on the business model.

And BOOM, we won the first price, including:

  • A seat in the SenseCube acceleration program starting in February 2016 in Brussels. A 3-month program will give our team unique access to daily support and emulation, workshops and mentoring by the network of coaches as well as the support of the international MakeSense community to prototype, test and launch our project in the best conditions!
  • Office rental during 6 months in the coworking space of Mundo B in Brussels.
    An opportunity to benefit from synergies with Groupe One, ECORES and 35 other Belgian and European organizations in the field of sustainability.
    Includes a bright space with internet connection, printing, phone lines, kitchen, shared meeting rooms and sustainable cafeteria.
  • Voucher to register our business at Banque Carrefour des Entreprises and 18 hours of coaching with Securex. Guidance through every legal and administrative aspects: choosing our legal structure, registering our business and our business name, obtaining federal and regional licences and permits, and learning about the regulations of our activities.
  • Access to a private platform of crowdfunding via My MicroInvest.
  • Participation to the 9th edition of the Boostcamp MIC in February 2016.

The last two weeks have been filled with nice and important meetings with friends, coaches, mentors, in order to better define the goals and continue on the vibes. With Winnie, bio-engineer, we started to grow our materials in the DIY BioLab at ReaGent, an already important stage because with micro-organisms the environmental conditions are very important.