Student Clubs

Driving Sustainable Consumption

This year’s WHU SensAbility conference on social and sustainable entrepreneurship took place under the motto “Innovation – Driving Sustainable Consumption.”

Inspiring and motivating keynote speeches, workshops, and networking rounds invited students and professionals from all over Europe to the Vallendar campus at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management on March 29 and 30, 2019.

United by the drive to reshape society in the way business is done, students and professionals from various industries, such as the food sector, fashion and cosmetics, fintech, and telecommunication, got to exchange with each other. Speakers like Jakob Berndt, Co-Founder of the fintech bank Tomorrow, and serial entrepreneur Alexander Piutti shared their opinions on what a social entrepreneurial business should look like. “You can be profitable and still leave a positive footprint,” encouraged Jakob Berndt who attempts to establish sustainable banking “the new cool thing.”

Aside from banking, Christian Fenner, Co-Founder of the nu company, proved that sustainability and conscious consumption is possible in the food sector. As an entrepreneur, he claimed, one needed to define the “why” and make the customers part of the mission.

In a so-called “Fuck Up Session,” entrepreneurs shared their lessons learned with the participants. So did Gerrit McGowan, Founder of and current doctoral student at WHU, who presented his personal seven lessons learned. In his keynote, McGowan emphasized for instance, that instead of aiming too high one should “under-promise, and over-deliver.” Furthermore, he experienced himself that a reasonable business model is essential, and said that not the business, but the customers created the social impact.

The participants got further insights and guidance in a panel discussion on the topic “Sustainability versus Efficiency.” “Changing the awareness of how we produce and how we consume,” was the answer of Judith Juhnke, Founder and sustainable fashion entrepreneur, to the question of how everyone can improve in implementing sustainability. Finally, five entrepreneurial teams pitched their innovative projects in a social pitch battle in front of a jury of knowledgeable investors and entrepreneurs. The team around the project AMaPro, who build affordable 3D-printed prostheses, won the competition and was awarded prize money and a voucher for the Institute for Social & Sustainable Oikonomics.