Founder of the month: Rement

PUBLISHED ON
19.06.2024
Author
Ana Beatriz Benatti
Category
Founder of the month
Overview

What does your company stand for?

Rement stands for the sustainable recycling of concrete. Our technology converts demolition concrete and CO2 into reusable sand and precipitated calcium carbonate, a filler for the paper and plastics industries. Our solution is targeted at building material recyclers and cement producers.

 

Where and how did you get the brilliant idea to start the company?

Felix used the coronavirus period to focus on the issue of resource consumption and emissions from the building material concrete. This enabled him to gradually develop a recycling concept from various building blocks that balanced ecological and economic benefits.

How did the founding team come together?

After developing the basic idea, Felix and Vincent decided to enter the GROW competition organised by PionierGarage. Adrian joined the team during the competition. Robert was sitting in the audience at the time and was excited by Rement’s approach, so he joined a little later and also recruited Achim to the team.
 

Where do you see the hurdles in the founding process? Where did you get support?

We are not yet formally incorporated. On the one hand, this is against the statutes of most spin-off funding programmes, but on the other hand, it is not necessary as we are not yet entering into any deeper contractual relationships. We don’t need a limited company for the startup spirit, although having a real company of our own is of course a further motivational boost.
 
Wherever possible, we try to complement our own expertise with an external perspective. For example, in the areas of decarbonisation and sustainability, we are supported by the Remove and Smart Green accelerators. From a construction perspective, we are supported by Prof. Gerdes’ KIT Innovation HUB and FUTURY The Mission Construction. In addition, of course, there are professional service providers such as patent attorneys and, later on, notaries and tax consultants.

 

What was one of your biggest challenges during the start-up phase?

During the start-up phase, the biggest challenge was to develop the core idea in a focused way, but at the same time to create structures that would work. This included finding a working environment, but also clarifying within the team who would contribute how much time and what role they would take on. After that, the main challenge was to secure funding and prioritise the research questions from a technical and economic point of view. We are now concentrating on developing the process technology, covering our staff costs in the medium term and creating the necessary framework for a pilot project in the long term.

 

From today’s perspective, what would you do differently?

The most important decisions so far have been: Do we go the university route or seek independence? What source material do we focus on? How do we fund the initial phase? And: Which target groups should we focus on? So far, we are happy with our decisions, but it will be months or years before we can draw a final conclusion.
 
With regard to resource efficiency, we may have spent a little too long trying to strengthen the team in the field of building materials technology, instead of building up expertise in the existing team or looking for a partner institute with the expertise that the IMB now brings to the table.
 
The search for the first laboratory could also have been quicker. We spent a long time looking for favourable premises on Immoscout instead of contacting KIT directly.

 

What qualities do you think a founder should have?

Not every founder has to be able to do everything, it’s the team that counts. One person brings experience to the team, another a fresh mind. One person may like to play the role of foreign minister, while another prefers to drive important roadmap items internally. Either way, what is important is an unwavering commitment, strong intrinsic motivation, resilience and the ability to prioritise.

 

Do you have any practical tips for other young entrepreneurs?

The first tip is to talk to as many people as possible early on who can judge whether there is a market for your idea. No one has ever said to us “it’s so early, I can’t say anything yet”. Keep validating a hypothetical solution until it becomes a reality. But keep an eye on your calendar and think about when to talk to whom.

Second, dare to drill the thick boards. Many investors have understood that innovation in hardware and green tech does not pay off as quickly as an online shop or an app, but it is still necessary. Technical universities offer a good environment for this kind of innovation.

 

What are your plans for the future? What are your next major milestones?

We are about to launch our next prototype, which will demonstrate the process in a highly automated form. For the first time, this will result in larger quantities of material that we can send to interested companies. We are also planning a public demonstration of the prototype, for which interested parties can register with us.
The biggest milestone so far is scheduled for next year: The pilot. This will prove that the process can be fully automated and works in a real environment. This will make our solution much more tangible for building material recyclers and cement producers. After the pilot phase, we are now in the starting blocks for the first commercial-scale plant.

 

Thank you for answering the questions!

 

PODCAST

Listen to the podcast episode with Felix and Robert from the founding team. Daniela talks to them about their founding story, their mission and vision and much more. Have fun listening in.

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