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Plantarista: Oat drink powder from Linz brings vegan enjoyment to the restaurant trade

Source: Incubator

Studies have shown that traditional cow's milk has a significantly worsecarbon footprint than most plant-based alternatives. But is oat milk already the measure of all things when it comes to climate protection? "The milk alternatives currently available on the market are liquid. They weigh a lot to transport, have to be kept refrigerated after opening and spoil relatively quickly. As a result, large quantities of food waste and packaging waste are disposed of in the catering industry in particular," says Jasmin Rath. Together with Stefan Schreiber, she founded the start-up Plantarista in Linz to counter this with a superior product: a plant drink powder made from oats.

Plantarista plant drink powder: Made in Austria with a significantly betterCO2 balance

"You can mix ten liters of oat milk cold or warm from one kilogram of our powder. It has the usual taste and is just as easy to froth," explains Stefan Schreiber. The Plantarista powder has a significantly betterCO2 balance than the products on the market due to the considerably lower transport weight, the elimination of refrigeration and the avoidance of waste. What's more, as a purely natural product, it can be produced entirely in Austria from Austrian ingredients. "That was very important to us, which is why we quickly decided to use oats instead of soy or coconut as a base," says the co-founder.

"We were quickly relieved of our uncertainty"

The powder is being developed together with a team from Wieselburg University of Applied Sciences. A few steps are still missing on the way to market launch. Plantarista is relying on the Linz-based incubator tech2b for this. "We were already accepted into tech2b's Ideate program during the idea phase. Because the idea arose from our own need, we were initially unsure whether we were just imagining it ourselves. The uncertainty was quickly dispelled and we really got going," says Jasmin Rath.

From the tech2b Ideate to the Activate program

"Plantarista convinced us early on and then developed very strongly in the six months of the Ideate phase. Jasmin and Stefan then faced our jury and convinced them to accept them into the main incubation, the six-month Activate program that has been running since February," says Clemens Zillner, who is responsible for sustainability at tech2b. The sustainability aspect was a decisive factor. "We support greentech start-ups and start-up projects with a direct or indirect contribution to environmental or climate goals in Upper Austria," says Zillner. The Linz incubator also provides additional funding for companies with explicitly sustainable products, such as Plantarista.

Plantarista: Launch in the gastronomy sector, B2C remains an issue

As part of the incubation process, the focus on the catering industry also emerged, explains co-founder Rath: "Originally, we had envisaged the powder as a B2C product because it is also simply practical for on the go and in everyday life. Mentoring then showed us that the food service industry is a very sensible first target group for us. Thanks to our powder, restaurateurs can serve all their customers who avoid dairy products out of personal conviction or for health reasons with a clear conscience. Through our mentor, we have access to a large network in the industry, from which we are now receiving many positive signals. For the future, however, direct sales to end customers will of course also remain an issue.

Turbo for Plantarista through tech2b mentor

But there is still a lot to do before then. "At the moment, the biggest challenge for us is getting into the industry. The food industry is complex. But here, too, we are very grateful to tech2b. Thanks to our mentor, we have already made more progress in the first three weeks of the Activate program than in the months before," says Stefan Schreiber.

"There is always someone available on an ad hoc basis to help and advise us"

And that's not the only thing Plantarista has learned from the current tech2b run, which will continue until July. "The milestone plan, for example, has proven to be very useful. In regular meetings, we look together at where we are and where we need help," says the founder. "And it comes very quickly - there's always someone there on an ad hoc basis to give us advice and support." Jasmin Rath adds: "No matter who we had to deal with. Everyone was extremely committed right from the start".

Essential services and important training courses

tech2b offers comprehensive support through coaching, mentoring infrastructure and networking. In addition, services such as tax advice, legal advice or notarial services are also provided for the start-ups via the financial grant from tech2bdas tech2b budget, explains Clemens Zillner, "and we offer training series on various topics with BIZtrain". Jasmin Rath gives a few examples: "There are questions such as: How do you build a website? How do you design the sales process? Or how to create buyer personas. The half-day training sessions are extremely informative and the exchange with other founders in the program takes you even further". For the Plantarista founder, one thing is clear: "We wouldn't be where we are without tech2b"

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