It takes a truly cutting-edge business concept from a startup to best the competition and take home the coveted Judge’s Award at Entrepreneur 20X (E20X). During E20X Amsterdam in April 2018, that kind of groundbreaking concept was presented by KITRO — a startup company that designed a digital device to alleviate the very real-world problem of global food waste in the hospitality industry.
HFTP — which produces the E20X competition — recently announced that applications are now open for E20X Europe and E20X Minneapolis in 2019.
As HFTP gears up for its April 2019 competition in Mallorca, Spain, we sought to catch up with KITRO in the months since they won at HITEC Amsterdam 2018. Co-founder Anastasia Hofmann and the team at KITRO told us all about the valuable lessons KITRO learned from participating in E20X — and how the pitch competition gave them vital exposure and a global platform for KITRO to share their digital solutions to food waste in the hospitality industry.
“Bring back the value of all food, so it is appreciated and not wasted.”
Every day, millions of tons of food are thrown away. Two-thirds of all of this wasted food is edible. This avoidable food waste along with the entire supply chain was detrimental impacts on the environment. Reducing it would prevent unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate climate change.
KITRO is a Swiss-based company founded by Anastasia Hofmann and Naomi MacKenzie. With firsthand experience in the hospitality industry and computer science, the KITRO team is committed to bringing an innovative digital solution and providing actionable insights to the issue of food waste. KITRO accomplishes these goals by integrating technology that measures, monitors and reports on food waste into the kitchen operations of canteens and restaurants.
What was the overall E20X experience like for KITRO?
Being part of the HITEC in Amsterdam last March was a very rewarding experience for us. We were able to meet many key individuals from the hospitality industry and enjoyed valuable networking opportunities and interesting panel discussions.
What did it mean for you to win the E20X Judge’s Award?
We were very honored to receive the Judge’s Award and received very constructive feedback from the judges. Participating in the E20X competition with many other great startups gave us media attention across borders and pushed the visibility of our startup.
What is the inspiration behind KITRO — and what are your future goals?
KITRO provides the hospitality industry with a fully automated product that helps them measure and understand their food waste. Based on the data, customers are empowered to adapt their work practices and use resources more efficiently. By reducing their avoidable food waste they are able to save costs while lowering their environmental foot print.
[Co-founder] Naomi and I have a background in hospitality and directly witnessed good food being thrown away on a daily basis. We realized that currently there are only limited solutions on the market that support restaurants and hotels in their food waste management. This inspired us to design a product enabling them to get deeper insights into their food waste and the sources so they can actively reduce it.
The future goals are to firstly finish the product and roll it out on a global level. Food waste is something that concerns every one of us and we believe that it is high time to make a change into a greener future.
What impact do you believe the E20X competition can have for startups?
At bigger conferences such as HITEC, it is always very helpful to try to participate in the program to get exposure. Especially as a startup with limited funds a booth might be too costly, so pitching on stage will increase visibility and enable interested people to approach you. This was one of the reasons why we participated as well as the session with mentors from the industry before the pitches. It was very valuable for us in terms of growing our network and reach within the hospitality industry.
What is the greatest takeaway from your experience at E20X?
We received some insights into sales and distribution channels which were very helpful. Another more concrete example is that we were included in a white paper on the “Future of Travel Hospitality” by Xenia Hospitality Advisors.
What tips would you give to other hospitality startups participating in E20X next year?
The hospitality industry is a great industry to be part of and networking is an important part of it. Startups participating in E20X should really make an effort to use the networking opportunities present at the conference and make sure to follow up afterwards to initiate longer discussions with potential partners and customers.
Thank you to Anastasia and the rest of the KITRO team for sharing their insights, progress and professional successes experienced in the time since their E20X victory.
Why Should You Participate in E20X?
Become an Award-Winning Startup: E20X participants will compete for a grand prize and the guaranteed opportunity to be promoted as the winner to the hospitality industry. The Judge’s Award is selected by an expert panel of judges. The People’s Startup Award is selected by HITEC attendees.
Promote Your Breakthrough Business Concept to Hospitality Experts and Professional Peers: The E20X program features ambitious, unfunded entrepreneurs presenting their inventive business concepts to a room full of HITEC attendees, as well as a panel of expert judges — including hospitality CIOs, angel investors, serial entrepreneurs and industry insiders.
Upcoming Events (Applications Now Open)
Taking place at HITEC Europe
April 9–11, 2019
Palau de Congressos
Palma, Mallorca, Spain
Taking place at HITEC Minneapolis
June 17–20, 2019
Minneapolis Convention Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E20X Eligibility Requirements
E20X is open to ambitious, unfunded entrepreneurs and hospitality technology startups. Winners from past E20X competitions are not eligible to apply for the same regional E20X competition (e.g. the winner of E20X Europe cannot apply for E20X Europe again. However, the winner of E20X Europe can still apply for E20X North America).
How to Apply
- Must be a startup company. (Past applicants are welcome to come back if they are still considered a startup.)
- Submit your application at: www.hftp.org/entrepreneur20x/.
- A committee will select the companies who will pitch at E20X.
- Questions? Contact the E20X team at E20X@hftp.org.
Get Involved in Another Way! Volunteer to be a Mentor
E20X mentor opportunities are available to industry professionals who would like to volunteer. Click here to apply to be a mentor at E20X HITEC Europe. (Application for E20X Minneapolis will become available at a later date.) The morning before the competition, E20X startups will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with E20X mentors.
Briana Gilmore is the HFTP communications coordinator.
Briana can be reached at Briana.Gilmore@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4017.