In our small corner of the world, where the gap between the number of men and women leading businesses is still painfully evident – like elsewhere – LeipGlo is doing its own interviews to highlight female founders, their wins and struggles. We continue our series of Q&A’s with Carola Antonia Stock, co-founder of the local company Smicies, which aims to change the way we snack. The pastille-sized bites are vegan or vegetarian and come in a few different flavors.
1. How old are you and what city or town are you originally from?
I am 29 years old, born in Überlingen (Baden-Wurttemberg) and grew up in a small village called Stetten at Lake Constance.
2. How did your educational background and life experiences lead you to become an entrepreneur?
During my design studies, I worked as a mentor and conversation guide and learned a lot about conflict management, teamwork and group dynamics. In 2012, I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Communication Design at Konstanz. After two years of integrated design studies in Bremen, in 2014 I obtained my Master of Arts in Studio System + Structure, which was very helpful to understand different structures and systems in our whole society and design thinking.
Various professional experiences in the creative industry at home (Germany) and abroad (France) – with the main focus on the conception, consulting and handling of brand presentation – as well as becoming a product manager and designer with personal responsibility, led me to become an entrepreneur.
3. When and how did you meet your co-founder, and what made you guys decide to work together?
I met Immanuel Philip Rebarczyk in 2015 at the SpinLab Leipzig. He worked there as founder at his own startup Ekoio, and I was employed as designer and product manager at Vizzlo. At lunch, we talked about our abilities, ideas and dreams as [budding entrepreneurs].
Immanuel told me about his long-time dream of getting a small [but] hearty snacking experience in between sports, business meetings, etc. Traditional fast food or classic snacks such as chips were not an option for us, because they had too much fat and energy content. Immanuel as an industrial engineer, me as a communication designer, and our vision for healthy snacking were the perfect combination to launch a snack that would satisfy our cravings without pangs of conscience. The idea was born fast: Smicies – Gute Gewissensbisse.
4. How was the idea for Smicies conceived, what stage is the startup in, and what is its long-term goal?
Our vision is that conscious nutrition and a hearty snacking experience don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but consistent. So we started our (re)search, found a production partner and developed our dream of a small and spicy snack without any remorse.
Since the energy content of one Smicies is only 2 kilocalories per piece, with low fat and high protein, you can enjoy a hearty snack without regret.
There is no snack in this mini-form so far: Our hearty bites are a brand new product category, and we want to be the first global player.
Smicies were launched last summer in July 2018. The first major production of our innovation was accompanied directly by a camera crew from Galileo, and brought us the first positive reactions, with our first batch being sold out following the TV broadcast. We produced new Smicies and were fortunate enough to be aired on “Die Höhle der Löwen” in September 2018. This gave us huge media reach and resulted in infinite contributions and emails, and renewed revenue increases.
Since then, we have constantly been working on product improvements and ideas for which direction Smicies can develop. Until then, we want to make sure that Smicies are listed as innovation everywhere, whether in supermarkets, gas stations or kiosks. With a ProSieben-Sat1 media deal in our pocket, we want everyone to know about our Smicies!
5. Why did you choose Leipzig as the place to base your startup?
After my master’s degree in Bremen, I moved to Leipzig for work. I had visited the city a few times already and had the impression of a colorful city with a lot of (cultural) offers and a strong focus on personal and professional development, I thought:
Here’s where stuff happens, here’s where you have space to develop and one is supported from many different sides.
During my time at a startup in Leipzig, I was able to gain insights into the startup scene and got to know Immanuel. To stay in Leipzig and thus found our startup in the middle of Germany was beyond question. From here we can expand our network optimally.
6. What sorts of challenges and incentives have you encountered as a female entrepreneur in Germany?
As a woman, I am one of just a few founders in the still male-dominated startup scene. So far, however, I have only met with a positive response and have always been pushed and supported in my intention to continue as a founder with my company.
The public is extremely positive that a woman is at the forefront of Smicies, and in the future I also want to encourage other women to become founders, to believe in and prove themselves!
We have to build up a big network of businesswomen in Germany. A movement and platform of enthusiastic female entrepreneurs, curious business women and professionals. I would love to connect myself with other interesting, open-minded business women!
7. What has the reception generally been so far towards Smicies – from the public, the media and the local startup community?
After our media appearances on Galileo and “Die Höhle der Löwen,” we were at some fairs and events on the road to getting direct feedback from our customers and thus closest supporters. So many millions of people now know the faces behind Smicies – Immanuel and me – and that gives confidence to our customers, and they believe in our innovation.
We have received great feedback and valuable reviews, and are always developing our product. In addition to public opinion… we are pleased to be receiving steadily growing support in the local startup environment.
8. What does the name “Smicies” mean or stand for, what flavors of Smicies are there, and how do you decide what flavors to have?
The word creation “Smicies” results from the properties of the hearty bites, and is thus a combination of “small” and “spicy.” We developed the meal flavours Italian Pizza Bites, Cheese Gratin Bites and Bacon Pita Bites. The possibilities are huge: Smicies are intended to quench your cravings for hearty things and are therefore conceivable in all imaginable flavors as an extension of our range: Currywurst, fried chicken, kebab, etc. We have big plans!
9. What advice would you give to women who would like to take the plunge into starting their own business in Germany?
Do it. Be brave, jump in the cold water, and dare!
LEARN MORE: Smicies website