Interview with «ZÜRICHIPS»


People approach us often asking, what they personally can and should do for the good of the planet. Understandable, since we, the authors, develop sustainable business concepts, strategies and solutions in our Greenfranchise Lab. Today answering is very easy. Simply check our tiny interview with lovely Monica (Moky) Cipelletti, one of the founders of ZÜRICHIPS - The Chips with a Message!

Monica Cipelletti & Lucie Rejman during pitch © ZÜRICHIPS
Monica Cipelletti & Lucie Rejman during pitch © ZÜRICHIPS

What is special about your tiny start-up?

When we met in 2018, Lucie, Enrico, Paolo and myself (Moky) were determined to do something good, not just for ourselves, but for us all and for our planet. As we discovered how crucial food waste is for climate change, and how much food is wasted in households by single individuals or families, we decided to take action against it and co-found our company.

Zürichips-Team (l-r): Lucie Rejman, Enrico Fantini, Monica Cipelletti, Paolo Marioni © Credit Eliane Duerst
Zürichips-Team (l-r): Lucie Rejman, Enrico Fantini, Monica Cipelletti, Paolo Marioni © Credit Eliane Duerst

Our mission is to raise awareness that “food waste is climate change” and that each and every one of us can make a positive impact on our planet, by having more responsible food habits. Our approach is positive, as we want to do that with good taste and with a smile, grabbing people first by their belly (with something yummy), to reach their head (awareness that food waste is climate change) and finally their heart (I care = I change). And our product? We wanted something that everybody loves and can relate to. 

ZÜRICHIPS production @Credit Elena Völkle

As in Switzerland 1/3 of the food is thrown away and bread is one of the most affected products, we thought: why not make chips out of unsold bread? Thanks to Ässbar, we now rescue bread from the best bakeries in town and “up-cycle” it into deliciously sustainable bread chips. We have called them ZüriChips and we claim that they are “the chips that save the world”. In the last months we have managed to outsource our production to a foundation called Züriwerk which works with people with cognitive disabilities. This was an important step for us, not only because we could stop baking after work at night, but mostly because we could have also a social impact, very meaningful to us.

ZÜRICHIPS loose and packed © ZÜRICHIPS
ZÜRICHIPS loose and packed © ZÜRICHIPS

What is special and different about our chips is that they are much more than chips: they are chips with a message. In all our packaging and our communications we state that food waste is climate change, we give sustainable and light-hearted tips on how to make food last longer (“make an old bread fall in love with an apple”), we campaign with funny stickers like “I want to bake free”, “make love not food waste” or “bake to the future” and with posters claiming “Our planet is too good to be wasted. Be crispy”.

Our ZüriChips are sold in some shops in Zürich (like Berg und Tal and Kafi Züri), as snacks for events and caterings or snacks to go (at markets for example) and as customized give always for companies. We are often asked to give talks or to be present with information corners and we recently started organizing chips-baking events to inspire people to bake their own ZüriChips at home and become more creative with their food at home, saving it from ending up in the bin.

Baking with our community © Credit Marta Padysz
Baking with our community © Credit Marta Padysz

What can be considered special about our tiny start-up is that we make chips, but we are not chips producers. We are a movement where everybody who is involved becomes special. Our impact is not only measured on how much bread we save, but mostly on how many people we inspire to waste less. So far we have a community of more than 80 people who are willing to help us from time to time to bake, pack or sell our chips, which we find absolutely awesome. And our wish is to have more and more ambassadors who can campaign against food waste.

Like all start-ups, what is difficult especially at the beginning, is to have a business model that makes it financially sustainable. That’s why we, the four founders, still all have our primary job, besides our start-up. For ZüriChips, we normally meet once a week at Das Provisorium (a co-working place for food start-ups and organisations) and we do the rest of the work remotely. What’s good about our team is that we come from very diverse backgrounds: Lucie from Zürich is a food engineer, Paolo from Tessin is a marketing strategist, Enrico from Italy is an energy engineer and me, I also come from Italy and have a creative background in advertising. We always smile saying that we are two and half Italians and a food engineer, so what else would be needed to make something good with food?

What makes you happy with your tiny start-up?

One of the best feelings that makes me happy is that I can work on something I really believe in, on values and on a mission that I create and share with my co-founders. It’s also the freedom to choose what is good, what is not, what is worth it. The courage to say no, to be out of your comfort zone, to try, to fall, to change direction. I am profoundly convinced of doing something sustainable and I love to have to deal with individuals like me, about something tangible, concrete, like the food we eat every day. I see the potential of the positive impact that we can contribute to make to our planet. And I love to do that in a simple way, with a yummy product and with a smile.

Celebrating our first year birthday © ZÜRICHIPS
Celebrating our first year birthday © ZÜRICHIPS
Poster with our message © ZÜRICHIPS
Poster with our message © ZÜRICHIPS

Curated by Author/Consulting duo Bellone/Matla ("Glücklich mit Tiny Start-ups") © 2020