Superfoods instead of super content - why Thomas founded a food start-up
Instead of working as an industrial engineer for electrical engineering at RWE or E.on, I founded a food start-up with friends. How it came about and why food of all things I'll tell you in this article.
The course of my illness as a trigger
If I hadn't been constantly ill, I probably would never have dealt with the topic of nutrition. Often only the symptoms instead of the causes of my illnesses were treated medically, and my image of the omniscient doctor gradually cracked. Of course it was clear to me that exercise, psyche, physical predisposition, living conditions, nutrition and much more influence health. But all areas except nutrition were abstract and difficult to measure for me. How should one know exactly how his psyche is and whether that has an impact on the disease? So I tackled the topic of nutrition, because I think it's so easily measurable and you have maximum control over it. One could simply measure which substances the body is lacking, supplement and adjust one's diet accordingly. At least that's what I thought.
Dietary supplements - more bad than right
First, I started getting extensive blood tests to check my mineral levels and possible nutrient deficiencies. The result was not surprising: severe magnesium deficiency, slight anemia, vitamin D virtually non-existent and much more. So I tried to fight these deficiencies with numerous dietary supplements - with moderate success. But why? After further research, I came across more and more scientific publications that expressed their doubts about the isolated increase of individual micronutrients. Even science has not yet been able to fully explain why this is so, since complex interactions are involved that make causal links difficult. Add to this factors such as eating habits and nutrient uptake efficiency, adding to the complexity of the whole story. Fighting a nutrient deficiency with pills alone didn't seem like the right solution. A holistic approach was needed.
The way to superfoods and start-up
Not surprising - but revolutionary for me - was the idea of simply putting naturally very nutritious foods on the plate, which could increase bioavailability with a natural combination of macro and micronutrients. So the search for the ultimate superfoods began and finally led to hemp seeds and raw cocoa via algae, chia seeds and acai berries. But it also led to an intensive examination of the topic of nutrition in general and made me think.
If everyone knows in theory that what we eat every day has a significant impact on our health and well-being, why are there so few who actually do it? Why do millions of people in Germany suffer from diabetes and continue to eat fast food? In exploring these questions, I encountered many conflicting and controversial trends, diets, and practices in nutritional science, all of which propagated the ostensible solution to healthy eating. It was precisely this opaque and complex situation that suddenly made the topic of nutrition so interesting for me.
The fascination of nutrition vs. the compulsory subject of electrical engineering
During my studies, I realized relatively quickly that this new topic made more sense to me than calculating no-load voltages in transformers. That's how the idea came up to transfer my analytical skills, which I had acquired during my studies and research, to another field. While this idea was taking shape, Mathias (later co-founder of the nu company) and I were in the final stages of our master's thesis in England. When we presented our work at our institute back in Germany, the time had come: after the lecture on “Charging strategies for electric cars”, I revealed to my professor that we were determined to produce healthy chocolate bars. No one could have put into words more skepticism than the horrified looks of the professor and supervisor. I had to put up with a few questions - also from family and friends: "Why don't you start with a well-paid engineering job after this long and hard study?" But I had already answered these questions for myself long before.