The WHU Master Graduates Taking a Bite out of the Start-Up Scene

How three students combined their skills and passion to find their own niche.

Bild von Florian Beier (marekbeier.de)

Are you looking for an easy way to find recipes that make your diet easier to plan? Have a food allergy or just want to eat healthier? WHU Master in Entrepreneurship graduates Silas Kneussel and Daniel Sennewald and Master in Management Graduate Sarah Pohle have created foodable - a unique app that offers the convenience of an online shopping assistant delivering food direct to your home, with the additional benefit of personalized health and nutrition. We caught up with them to find out more.

Why did you decide to pursue a Master’s degree at WHU?

Daniel: For me, it was an easy decision. I checked different programs in Europe and Germany and felt WHU was the most entrepreneurial school of them all, and the only one at the time, that offered a Master of Science with that focus. I studied sociology and business before and during that course, I discovered that I wanted a hands-on career that could affect change. Coding was a topic I was interested in so I was thrilled to see that was part of the curriculum.

Sarah: I actually participated in a few internships with start-ups in Berlin and wherever I went, I always met someone from WHU. I was at a point where I had to decide whether to get a full-time job or look at a Master’s degree. I researched the school to be sure it offered the courses I wanted, that there was the option to complete a semester abroad, and that it was well represented in rankings. I loved the student experience in Vallendar; I made some friends for life and really loved the sense of community there.

What were highlights from the programs for you?

Daniel: Sprint2Berlin (a Google-sprint style event to test viable start-up ideas), accessing the network, the Analytics Edge course were all highlights for me. It’s something I can’t stress enough, but the atmosphere at WHU was one of the most intense but rewarding experiences. The focus and constant discussions about start-ups really inspired and drove me to work harder during the program.

Sarah: I also really enjoyed the 'Operations Analysis and Control' course with Professor Dr. Liji Shen. I loved the entrepreneurial, innovative focus at WHU - it helped me see that the start-up world suited me better than the corporate one.

Where did the idea for foodable come from?

Daniel: When I was in the Bachelor program, I spent a lot of my free time in the gym, but I was always struggling with my diet and never made the progress I wanted. I wanted a diet planner for my fitness goals, so I drew up an Excel sheet and used that to develop diet plans. I wanted to order the ingredients online at the same time too, as I didn’t enjoy grocery shopping. For Silas, he has two children, so a lot of the idea from his perspective was to reduce the effort required to cook and shop for the whole family.

Sarah: I have a food intolerance, which is annoying but manageable. However, for my mother, she has many intolerances to consider when cooking and eating. This was particularly difficult in the beginning for her as she struggled a lot to find recipes that were safe to use. This was one of the main motivators for me when developing this app: to help her and people with similar issues and less nutritional knowledge, and to help guide them through the process.

How did studying at WHU help to realize the idea?

Daniel: I think that aside from the academic preparation, was the impact of the positive atmosphere at WHU. You talk to so many people from the network who have followed a similar path, you share ideas, you receive encouragement; it really helps to foster this entrepreneurial mindset. 

What does foodable offer that is different from competitors?

Daniel: An effortless solution – if I just want to plan a few days based on dietary restrictions then I can. Also, I can assemble a full shopping list of groceries from a diet plan in minutes. It is highly individualized to your health and fitness goals, whatever they may be.

What have you learned during the process of launching the app?

Sarah: It has been a very steep learning curve! As we all work remotely, the process taught me a lot about how I work personally and how to work effectively as a team. For example, the importance of prioritization and keeping short feedback loops. While WHU taught me how to be confident and comfortable in different situations, you experience new things almost every day – today we spoke to a health insurance company and later we are meeting with lawyers. These are all new situations that are thrown at us daily!

Daniel: We have learned that there is a big difference between planning for something in theory and then putting it into practice in reality. The Master in Entrepreneurship Program, however, helped me to feel prepared for this: whether talking to other young start-ups or having a roadmap in mind. Without it, I think the whole process would have been overwhelming.

Find out more about foodable