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EIT FAN Stories: Rebel Meat

After Cornelia Habacher and her co-founder Philipp Stangl first met in 2018, they intensively discussed meat consumption and its consequences on environment, health, and animals. As a result, Cornelia and Philipp founded their startup Rebel Meat.

30 May 2022
EIT Food Central
5 min reading time

After Cornelia Habacher and her co-founder Philipp Stangl first met in 2018, they intensively discussed meat consumption and its consequences on environment, health, and animals. As a result, Cornelia and Philipp founded their startup Rebel Meat. Their products consist of 50:50 organic meat and plant-based ingredients. Their mission is "Less and better meat".

Rebel Meat was founded in mid-2019. Their first product was focused on the food service industry and won the 2019 Organic Product of the Year Award in the special category of food service products. This was followed by the launch of their first retail product, Burger Patties, in mid-2020. Since April 2021, the product range has expanded to include fresh products such as Käsekrainer, bratwursts, minced meat and fresh burgers, but also a Kids line since the end of 2021.

In an interview with our colleague Magdalena Eisenmann, founder Cornelia Habacher told us more about her mission and her experiences from founding the company to entering the German market this year.

How does your solution contribute to making our food system more sustainable?

Consumers have a lot of power and a lot of responsibility to choose sustainable production. Three times a day you face the decision of what to eat. In the short term, we achieve an effect by reducing meat. Through our product, consumers save 45% of resources, in terms of CO2 emissions as well as water and land area.

In the long run, we want to promote organic and regional agriculture. We want to promote regional cycles in agriculture and be less dependent on global players, for example, in terms of feed supply. The agriculture that feeds us here is important and we need to take care of it.

How did you come up with the idea behind your startup?

The idea behind it is to reduce meat consumption, not to demonize it. Our goal was to translate reduced meat consumption into a product. That's how we came up with the idea for the product. Then we went into the kitchen and tried what tastes well with meat. That took about half a year. We held tastings with a lot of friends until we had a final product we liked. Then we scaled the production.

How do you see your company develop over time and what are the next milestones you would like to tackle?

Currently seven of our products are available via various retailers on- and offline, especially Rewe, Billa plus, Billa, Sutterlüty, Denns BioMarkt, but also via online stores like gurkerl.at, Alfie’s and Flink. Since the end of last year, we have been expanding to Germany. We are represented by knuspr.de in the Munich region. As of May, our products are available at Denns BioMarkt and Alnatura, and thus in larger organic stores throughout Germany. The next step is to penetrate the German market even more to have a bigger impact. After that, we want to go to the Nordics, to Sweden, Denmark, and the UK.

From your perspective, what is the biggest challenge when entering a new market with your product?

On the one hand, it is a challenge to set up the logistics and find partners. Convincing grocery retailers of new products requires a lot of upfront work to gain knowledge about the market, the right product and timing. Sometimes the products must be slightly adapted in consultation with the buyers. There are also seemingly simple operational things to consider, for example we need new labels in new countries. Cultural differences and consumer preferences also play a role. Minced meat is named differently in Austria than in Germany. In Germany, there is frozen minced meat, which is not in demand in Austria. You always need to keep consumers in mind. Even though it's the DACH region, the same language is spoken everywhere, and the culture is similar, there are nuances that can determine success and failure.

Since you are currently in your market entry process to the German Food Market, what kind of partners are you currently looking for?

We are looking for distributors - retailers, online retailers, small organic stores, organic wholesalers. In addition, we are looking for meat producers who are open to hybrid products and share our philosophy of "less is more", i.e. producing fewer, high-quality products. Besides, we are looking for new employees. Currently our team consists of ten people. With the expansion to Germany, we will hire new sales staff.

You took part in the EIT FAN Accelerator, did it help you to get better insights into the German Food Market and build up a network here?

Mainly by talking to other startups and food retailers - You can share ideas with them as sparring partners. Does our understanding of the market make sense? Is it really that way or do we just perceive it that way? The external perception of a market always is much different from the consumers’ perception. It's good to verify whether your own assumptions are actually true, e.g. with the product itself, pricing, communication.

In your opinion, as EIT FAN Munich Hub Alumna, what were the main benefits joining this program?

We benefited most by the before-and-after-analysis. At the beginning we looked at exactly where our company stood and at the end we assessed again where we are to see the difference. It helped a lot to evaluate our current situation and think about where we want to go. At the EIT FAN, we also felt that EIT Food supported us tremendously and expected a commitment at the same time.

What advice would you give to someone who want to start their own business?

It is important to choose your co-founders well and consider how you complement each other. It's helpful if you also get along well in your personal life. However, if you work with a copy of yourself with a similar background and opinions, that adds relatively little value to the company. Despite the differences and complementarities, you should have a common mission and agree on how to get there. You have to keep discussing and be open to working on it. The relationship with your co-founders is one of the most important bonds one makes in life. In the beginning, it has to be well thought out whether you can see it working out in the long run. You also have to be honest about whether you have the skills to build a business, or at least the motivation to acquire them quickly.

Furthermore, it is important to constantly check the product-market-fit and adapt the products accordingly.

Anything else you would like to share?

Consumers need to be aware of their power. Every receipt is a ballot with voting for or against sustainability. You must actively embrace this role - now even more than ever before.

Learn more about Rebel Meat on their official website.

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