From Student to Entrepreneur
Leonardt won the 2021 business@school regional competition in Hamburg along with five other students from Gymnasium Eppendorf. The business idea they presented to the judges was a sustainable one: Natural soaps and body scrubs made of recycled coffee grounds. And for Leonardt and another team member, Liam, the end of the business@school project year didn't mean the end of their business idea, as the two high school students decided to start their business Coffeecycle. In an interview, Leonardt told us more.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
No, before participating in business@school, I never thought about startup ideas. It happened over the course of the project year, and I really grew into it. Phase II of business@school, when our team analyzed a startup, was really interesting. That was the first time we spoke to entrepreneurs. Then, in phase III, we learned that there's not only one way to realize business ideas and found a company, and that every entrepreneur somehow just takes the plunge into the unknown. In the meantime, we've found our own path and know what it means to start your own company.
What are the plans for your startup after you finish high school?
We consciously decided to run Coffeecycle on the side so we could start our college studies after graduation. It's not clear yet how the startup will do, and we want to be prepared for our careers aside from Coffecycle. Of course, running the business is an added responsibility. There have been times when I took a college exam, gave an interview, and worked with Liam to get a big Coffeecycle order ready to go out—all on the same day. But we’re passionate about our products and have benefited enormously from our experience with business@school, Coffeecycle, and the resulting network of contacts.
What are Coffeecycle's success factors, in your opinion?
I'm incredibly proud that we developed our own product and recycling system. There are a lot of young people involved in startups right now, or who have even founded companies themselves, but a lot of things are digital. Our Coffeecyle products make us unique, and we also get points for practical expertise and sustainability.
Why would you encourage other high school students to participate in business@school?
Because it opens doors. Success stories from 25 years of business@school show how much you can benefit from the network of people involved.