On the Promoting Enterprise portal we are talking to the entrepreneurs on the 33 Under 33 list. This Secrets of Success initiative aims to shine the spotlight on a selection of successful young entrepreneurs, documenting their stories in an effort to inspire others to consider entrepreneurship as a career path. Today it is the turn of young Liechtensteinian Franco Bargetze.
Franco is from Liechtenstein and has a BSc in Business Administration and an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Management. His heroes are himself in 10 years and his grandmother, and his mentor is Heinrich Katz, a pioneer in insect farming in Europe who has mentored him since day one. Franco has always been a daring person and, as the youngest of three sons, he has had to prove myself often, which has made him believe in himself. His company NutriFly uses insects to produce sustainable and high-quality nutrition for animals and plants.
Tell us about your business
In our process, we use the circular economy principle in the sense of zero waste. Our products are created by upcycling side streams from the agricultural and food industries, which are converted into energy and protein by larvae during rearing. What is left over from larval rearing - such as dietary fibre, excrement and insect skins - is processed into fertiliser and returned to agriculture. The larvae can be processed into protein meal or sold whole.
Insect protein is a solution to many global problems we face. Conventional protein sources like soy, fishmeal and meat use incredible amounts of unrenewable resources, and often have a severe impact on nature, such as rainforests being destroyed for soy production, wild fish caught to feed fish in aquaculture and environmental pollution from factory farming. Insect fertiliser is a side product of ours that is a great alternative to harmful products. Our business model is based on the circular economy and we process organic waste that otherwise would be thrown away.
Where did you get the idea from?
Actually a friend told me about the benefits of insects for the circular economy. I started doing more research on the topic. The rest is history.
How old were you when you first decided you would start your own business?
I wanted to start my own business since I can remember. I’ve always been known to have a lot of business ideas. With this particular business, I started experimenting with rearing the black soldier fly in 2018 during my studies. I rented a small flat in my home town and built a small infrastructure to get to know the insect better and get my own experience with the process.
How did you get it off the ground?
Everything really started rolling when we moved into our pilot plant and started processing large numbers of side streams. It was crucial that interested people could come over and see it with their own eyes and that’s when everything changed. I’ve always had more interest than I could accommodate.
Who did you turn to for help?
I have an amazing set of friends and advisors who have been here for me all the way. It’s important to be able to get help, but also to know when to trust your own intuition and follow your gut.
Describe some of the obstacles you faced as a young person starting out in this business.
It’s been quite hard to build up my own network and maintain connections. As a young person one isn’t as connected as someone that has been in business for decades.
It has also been hard to keep on going even when times were hard and I didn’t know how to pay all the invoices. It takes a lot of strength to keep on track when everything is at stake.
How do you define success?
I don’t believe in winning or losing. Everything is a process. Just like our business model – there is no end and also no ultimate success.
What was the most challenging aspect of setting up your business?
Finding the knowledge, as it’s still such a new industry. Getting investors to really commit to our long-term plan.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
Being able to actually change the world for the better and believing in it every day.
What are the future goals of your business, and how will you go about achieving them?
We have mid- and long-term milestones: Being the first industrial insect farming plant in Switzerland and to scale our brand to have plants internationally.
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Walk your talk: You have to start somewhere so just get on going, even if you don’t yet know exactly how to manage the last mile. Just do it. Whatever you are, be a good one.
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- Publication date
- 28 February 2023
- Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
- Promoting Enterprise - categories
- EU SME WeekSecrets of Success
- Promoting Enterprise - tags