We all know food waste is a major problem in the grocery business, but what about the gastronomy business? ResQ is here to help. Users can use the ResQ app to check restaurants near them and then allows you to rescue surplus meals for a discounted price. Saving money and saving food? Talk about a win-win situation. So far the Finnish-based startup has rescued over 100,000 meals and they're just getting started in Germany. 

Having hit the German market just one month ago, Anna Bickenbach, previously of ecotastic, shares her first learnings with ResQ and reflects on the ups and downs of her career journey, including the process of letting a "failed" startup go.

What social problem does ResQ Club aim to solve?

ResQ Club’s vision is to eliminate food waste in the European gastronomy business by 2030! 

Its solution-oriented product adds value to a broken food system by offering a service that negates waste. In addition, ResQ aims to foster food waste awareness efforts in the public; with over 100,000 rescued (ResQ’ed) meals, I think we are on the right path.

So tell us, what is ResQ Club and how does it work? 

ResQ Club is a Finnish-based startup that offers an online platform, Android and iPhone app to reduce food waste in the gastronomy business by offering surplus food to ResQ users for a reduced price. ResQ users can thus enjoy quality food for a reduced price and be impactful at the same time.

The great thing about ResQ for partners is that it enables flexible order and pick up times. Users added benefits include knowing what foods are being offered in the meals, so people who have allergens (lactose or glucose intolerance) or have specific dietary lifestyle choices (vegan, ovotarian etc.) can easily find and choose the meals they want to ResQ. 

You recently launched ResQ Club in Berlin - how has that been and what’s next? 

We did a soft launch of ResQ exactly a month ago to test the market and to start creating critical mass in three cities: Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. This has been done with a two person budget and I’m proud that we’ve accomplished so much in our lean approach. The idea was to test our hypothesis first before pumping money in ineffectively. Now we have a better grasp of what works and what doesn’t. Initial efforts have lead to generating data and now we plan to capitalise on the know-how to scale quickly. Thus, it’s been quite successful, of course, this has to be communicated as we didn’t hit the market with a huge bang. This is phase one, now comes phase two. :D Looking forward to 2017!

Prior to ResQ Club, you had your own startup which you decided to close. What made you decide it was time to leave it behind?

Oh yes, my first proud entrepreneurial fail…or better said “shut down!”. With ecotastic, I learned when it was time to let go. We had different opinions in the founding team on the future of ecotastic. I wanted to internationalise and head over to the US. Things went really well in San Francisco and I was optimistic about taking ecotastic on the road towards fulfilling the “American dream”. However, you gotta be on one page with the team. At some point I realised that it wasn’t, well, “realisable” in the ways I had hoped and I made the decision to leave ecotastic. 

That was a turning point for me and an added experience in my life. I wouldn’t have been able to go that road if I didn’t have the right mentor who basically “shook” the truth out of me. At that point, I learned the hard way to be honest with myself and the situation. I made a cut and let go in December 2015. ecotastic shut down February 2016.

How does it feel to be working on something new? 

Fantastic. Once you give yourself some time to mourn the past (yes, this might also be a learning, one should reflect & properly find closure to get rid of any resonating “what ifs”) starting fresh is literally a fire starter. Whether or not you pick up a “rebound job” - means to an end - or decide to go after that next point of passion, use that energy to regain or continue believing in yourself. Any beginning can be difficult, but if you have the right prep before igniting then you’re sure to enjoy that boost and ride. 

Is there anything you miss about being a founder?

The only thing one would probably miss is making executive decisions when time is limited, but even in a C position you should double check on important strategic decisions. Collecting feedback is never false if you do it efficiently.

As a founder, you can also easily change priorities based on the landscape, where as being placed in a level of hierarchy you have to face more bureaucracy.  At least this way though you can negate a lot of risks since you have to convince more people with your logic and argumentation. So there are benefits and drawbacks to any position, but depending on how you frame it in your mind, it can always lead to a win-win.

Fortunately though for me, I gravitate towards agile business entities with lean processes and quick feedback loops. So with ResQ I don’t really miss anything. :D 

Looking back at the last three years, what are three pieces of advice you would give to others who are considering a job/career change?

Look at the grand scheme of things. What do you appreciate about the past jobs you’ve done and what does it say about where you might go in the future? 

Now, where does your career “dream” see you in the future? Do these two thoughts align? Maybe intersect at some point in your CV? Or maybe they are completely different and off-track? 

Then take the time to either listen to your “mind” or your “heart” to figure out the “state” you want to find yourself in later in life. If mind and heart come together in the long run, then you’ll probably not have any regrets and are doing something right. Just try to minimize the risks of being unhappy later when taking the next steps.

Be honest to yourself when reflecting to learn the max. This also means to place yourself in a role of objectivity. It helps with the point above. You should be able to look into the mirror and confirm you’re existing as your true self. If you don’t recognise yourself, then try to find out why and get to the bottom of it. You can’t run or hide from fears, so the sooner you come to grips with them and yourself, the better off you will feel and be. Clear the noise to get back to your intuition. 

If you’re about to jump into a new job then make sure your goals are clear. This means, is the job simply a means to an end? If so, what is the max you can gain from it to head towards your dream job or career? Make the best of it and keep focusing on the actual goal ahead. 

This ensures that you don’t become complacent and get stuck in a rhythm that you innately feel is actually off-beat. The best rhythm is one that harmonizes, so if your not there yet then work towards it.

If you’re about to do that what you’ve always dreamt of, then congratulations! Surround yourself with people that know about your vision so they keep you on track and you get the mental support you need.

Are you taking risks to go your own way? Then try to minimise what can go wrong, but don’t let anything discourage you. No point in laying stones in your way, but do avoid massive rocks if you can foresee them. 

What makes you a changer?

Last time I wrote “Taking risks for humanity makes someone the Changer.” (Simply said, we took the risk to live from our sparse savings after university to make ecotastic happen)

I still believe in that, but since this is round two, I want to highlight that continuously realising that you can change and that you are resilient makes someone a changer.