We are upcycling fruit pits into plant-based ingredients
Kern Tec is a plant-based food company from Austria that is developing new ingredients made from fruit pits. Michael Beitl, Luca Fichtinger, Sebastian Jeschko, and Fabian Wagesreither founded the startup. The team is part of the current cohort at the ProVeg Incubator. This is their story.
What does your startup do and what is your mission?
Luca: We believe that there are too many side streams in food production. That is why we have developed a unique supply chain and production method to process valuable fruit pits into new plant-based ingredients.
At the moment, we are using the pits from apricots, cherries, and plums to develop ingredients for the food and beverage industries. Our mission is to upcycle hundreds of thousand tonnes worth of pits and to develop new, unique products that can be easily adopted into our daily diets.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Michael: The idea actually came from some local farmers in Austria, who had been trying to process fruit pits for quite a while. However, they lacked the spare time to focus on this project, as well as the R&D know-how to make a process which is truly scalable. That’s where Kern Tec comes in.
Tell us about your team. Why are you the right people for the project?
Sebastian: Our founding team comprises four engineers and entrepreneurs. Luca and Michael met during university and started to work on the project, before being joined shortly afterwards by Fabian and myself.
Together we were able to design a manufacturing process to upcycle an initial 1.000 tonnes of fruit pits and offer those to over 50 customers from all over Europe. Currently, our wider team consists of ten people with employees supporting our mission in product development, R&D, and business development.
What are your favourite parts about building your business?
Fabian: It is probably the diversity of tasks and challenges. On the one hand, we are building relationships with fruit processing companies from all over Europe. On the other hand, we are developing cutting edge biochemical processes to make sure that the products can be used to their full potential. No two days are the same.
What have been the main challenges you’ve faced?
Luca: Our main challenge was to develop the whole supply chain without having deep know-how of the raw material. So many factors come into play there without you even knowing it.
What is it that makes your company unique?
Sebastian: The broad know-how about these raw materials and the ability to solve problems along the way very efficiently.
Why did you decide to join the ProVeg Incubator?
Fabian: For us it was important to gain more exposure to possible investors, customers, and mentors. We felt like the Proveg Incubator was the perfect place for our team to be able to do that.
In your opinion, what do you think it takes for a startup to be successful?
Michael: To have a well functioning and diverse team is probably the number one factor for success.
What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months?
Luca: We hope to close our first investment round for Kern Tec by June. After that, we’d love to see more of our products launching on the market and, finally, we aim to be able to double our production.