WHU alumnus Jakob Rauber (BSc 2019) founded the ice cream manufacturer EISZEIT with his brother Elia in his home town of Lahnau in 2019. In the interview, Jakob reveals how he came up with this idea, what it means to start a start-up in the family, and what is important when founding.
Has it always been your dream to open an ice cream shop, or how did you come up with this idea?
It has always been my dream to create my own company - that was also the reason why I decided to join WHU back then. There are several reasons why it has now become an ice cream manufactory. First, I like eating ice cream! That's why my brother and I started making our ice cream at some point. About eight years ago, it all began very modestly with a small ice cream machine for the kitchen. Little by little, we had convinced all our friends and acquaintances with our passion for ice cream and were asked more and more often to bring ice cream as dessert for smaller celebrations. By 2018, we had reached a point where we had to decide whether we wanted to continue with the whole thing as a hobby or whether we wanted to build up a company out of it. The decision was then made for the latter.
What was the biggest challenge in founding your company and what should one pay attention to?
The biggest challenge was the relatively young age of my brother and me. He was 18 and I was 22 at the time of founding - which is very young for such a traditional business. It was correspondingly challenging to convince older business partners (everything from tax consultants to business clients) that we were serious and able to meet all requirements professionally. However, we soon realized that in most cases, after a short time, it only matters what you say and what you do. Therefore, it helped enormously that I was very well prepared for all discussions regarding the economic and strategic orientation of our company through my studies at WHU.
How did your studies at WHU continue to prepare you for founding the company and how did they help you?
My studies provided me with the theoretical foundations that are needed to build a company. In one of our first lectures, a professor once said that for him, all the contents would only have been put together into one big puzzle after his WHU studies. I didn't understand it then, but I would sign it the same way today. With many of the contents, it was not clear to me during my studies where I would need them later. In the meantime, I know that I could take something from almost all the lectures for my career as a founder. This knowledge puzzle is a very valuable basis for almost all areas of our foundation.
What makes EISZEIT different from other ice cream parlors?
The very fact that EISZEIT is not an ice cream parlor, but a company that develops ice cream solutions for business customers and implements them, distinguishes us from a normal ice cream shop. Thus, the focus is on our manufacture. In addition to our B2B branch, we have also had an ice cream parlor since around March 2020, more or less an internal customer, to maintain a direct line to our guests and thus also to our customers' customers. However, our main business is still located in the B2B sector.
You founded EISZEIT together with your brother. What would you advise students to do who are thinking about founding their start-up with friends or even siblings?
Exactly, the relationship between the founders is a very important aspect of a foundation. A big advantage of founding a company among siblings or friends is that you already have a great basis of trust. Therefore, you don't have to put energy into control mechanisms etc., but you can build the internal structures on trust. You also know in advance what the other person can do and what their strengths (and weaknesses) are. This makes the distribution of tasks much easier. However, I would recommend to everyone that they should agree on the rough strategic lines even before the foundation. This will make implementation much easier later on and you only have to agree on the details. Overall, I would always found a start-up again with my brother or a good friend. The fun you have together on the way and the energy that independent work gives you are simply priceless.
More information on WHU's Bachelor in International Business Administration (BSc)