Founder Johanna in an interview on SheWorks.de
What is special about your start-up?
The special feature of our start-up, in addition to developing an innovative product that does not yet exist, is that we involve different elements of the gardening industry, but also very different people with complementary skills. When a team of business students join forces with local gardeners, a surprising number of new and positive things can emerge. For me personally and as a founder, Greenling is characterized by an attitude towards life and an inner attitude: being curious, allowing other perspectives and creating creative solutions in a team.
What are your first professional successes?
In fact, as a founder and entrepreneur, I'm still very new to the business. I achieved my first professional successes as a lawyer, i.e. as a business lawyer and corporate lawyer. There, it always inspired me the most that clients or entire departments made progress through my work. Even in the legal department, I never wanted to be the brakes in the company, but to enable projects. With regard to Greenling, one of the first major milestones was a guest lecture at this year's "Forum Garden Market" of the Garden Industry Association in Düsseldorf. And of course: The next highlight will follow with the go-live of our Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on December 7th, 2021. For me it is an indescribable feeling to then be able to carry Greenling a little further out into the world.
How is your professional career?
I started my career in a large law firm, where I learned not only precise work, but also economic understanding and functioning under pressure. Then I switched to the corporate side relatively quickly - first to larger industrial companies, then as the sole lawyer to a smaller online retailer. There, in addition to being in charge of legal affairs, I also took on the management of human resources. I'm still working in this double function until the end of the year, so that I can then concentrate fully on my own company and my heart's project, Greenling.
What was the trigger for you to start your own company?
The trigger was my MBA studies at the Mannheim Business School. As part of my studies, I developed Greenling as Strategic Business Projects (a practical strategy project that takes the place of a theoretical master's thesis). However, as the project progressed, I realized that I was so engrossed in starting my own business and Greenling's sketchy ideas, which were becoming more tangible almost every day, that there was no going back. The opportunity to shape the product, team, corporate culture and marketing myself is incredibly fulfilling for me. Here I also met other team members who supported me in founding the company and who are now back in the Greenling team.
Who advised you, who are your helpers and mentors?
I have a lot of helpers and supporters - above all my greenling team from the university, my family, friends and my network of colleagues and business partners. In the end, my husband is actually always my advisor and mentor. I married him (besides his excellent looks) partly because of his sharp mind, his ability to listen and his reliability and loyalty. With him by my side, I fear little.
What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
I don't think any of my professional challenges come close to what we had to do at home during the corona-related school closure. When two adults are in the home office and three children are in home school, everyone quickly reaches their limits. In concrete terms: When structures largely collapse and three boys chase through the house like a horde of monkeys, my patience is extremely short.
We only managed to do this with the help and support - especially from our parents and siblings as well as the football clubs with their volunteer youth trainers, who tirelessly organized online training.
How do you draw attention to your company?
Here, too, we are still at the very beginning. However, since we are purely an online shop and offer a niche product, we invest a lot in building a greenling community via social media - but also through local commitment in our anchor cities such as Munich and Frankfurt am Main. Here we are currently building a network of cooperation in the field of biodiversity and nature-based education.
What is your best marketing idea?
If only you knew! I agree with Henry Ford: "I know half of my advertising is wasted money. I just don't know which half." Basically, I think that the best marketing idea is still an excellent product with a unique service for customers. We're extremely ambitious. We just have to get the chance to manufacture and offer our product in an initial, larger series - and that requires a lot of persuasion and communication.
How did you finance your start-up?
So far I have financed the foundation from my own resources. Our crowdfunding campaign will now start on December 7th, 2021, which should enable us to produce the first one. The aim is to earn at least EUR 58,000 within 30 days in order to be able to deliver the first 500 mini gardens in spring. We then start looking for other investors who will help finance the growth of the company.
Which dream would you still like to realize?
Oh, my inner to-do list is still long! But I don't really have one big dream. Moments in which you could burst with joie de vivre sometimes come unplanned and unexpected. But for me, the chances of such increase when I discover breathtaking places in the world. As soon as Corona allows it again, I would like to drive across Costa Rica with my family and experience the jungle.
Her tip: What would you recommend to other female founders?
I'm not sure if I'm in a position to give out tips for female founders yet. I would perhaps prefer to appeal to those who are still undecided: If you feel the urge to take things into your own hands, have an idea that you believe in and know people around you who you can inspire for it, then then should – no, must – just try it. And that is completely unsolved, whether as a founder or as a founder.
Thank you for the interview and good luck!
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