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"Food Is My Passion" - From Founder to Business Angel

Interview with our alumnus and Foodist founder Alexander Djordjevic about food trends, entrepreneurship and content creators

Alexander Djordjevic was already enthusiastic about entrepreneurship during his studies at HSBA. Together with his fellow student and later Foodist co-founder Ole Schaumburg, he set up the HSBA Entrepreneurs Club as a student initiative. After completing his Bachelor's degree, he founded the successful Hamburg start-up Foodist and provided food lovers and connoisseurs with selected gourmet snacks and delicacies from all over the world for ten years. Since his successful exit, Alexander has been supporting and advising young start-ups as a business angel and, with Foodvibez, is working with leading international content creators to develop innovative food brands. We talked to him about food trends and the importance of networks.

You founded Foodist straight after completing your Bachelor's degree at HSBA and went to great lengths to make your dream come true. How and when did the idea come about?

The core idea for Foodist came about with my co-founder Ole Schaumberg in the fifth semester during my HSBA studies. At the time, subscription boxes with beauty brands were very successful in the USA, where customers could discover new beauty products every month. We transferred the concept to food, with the aim of introducing our subscribers to new food brands every month that they wouldn't find in the supermarket. The development and preparation of the launch happened in parallel with the bachelor thesis. In hindsight, that was really exhausting!

At the end of 2022, 10 years after founding the company, you sold Foodist and exited completely. How did the exit come about? Did you have a plan for when you wanted to leave Foodist?

I set myself an end date for my time as CEO of Foodist and this end should be accompanied by an exit that is satisfactory for everyone - employees, investors, partners and myself. A great tip I received on this: You have to define a specific time frame. Even if not everything goes according to plan and it doesn't end up with the sale of the company, you can then immediately start to set the right course and make important decisions.  I found a period of a thousand days to be good, that's far enough away to plan everything and close enough to take action and not put anything off.

After the exit, you advised and supported several young companies as a business angel. How does it feel to suddenly be on the other side?

It's a great privilege to invest in the ideas of ambitious founders and support them on their journey. I try to get involved in the way I would like my own investors to be involved or have experienced positively, i.e. to be available as a sparring partner, to lend a sympathetic ear to problems or simply to cheer them on. At the same time, I only get involved when it is desired. Even if, as a founder, I tend to quickly have an opinion on strategy, it is important to trust the intuition of the founding team, who work day and night to develop the company and pursue its mission.

You recently launched your own new thing. What exactly is Foodvibez?

We systematically create innovative food brands with the greatest content creators of our time, which we sell via our online store or stationary retail outlets. The products all claim to be "better for you & the planet". I am totally driven by using the incredible reach and influence of content creators to successfully sell better food and raise awareness about nutrition. Together with Pamela Reif and the development of the "naturally Pam" brand, I have already achieved this once.

Many of our students stay in good contact after their studies, for example via the Alumni Association or the many networking events we offer. How important would you say a good network is for a young start-up, how important was it for you?

A good network is very important in every phase of a company. To be honest, we didn't have a very good network when we started Foodist because we simply didn't have the professional experience. In hindsight, we should have made even more use of the HSBA network. Thanks to the dual approach, HSBA has an association of partner companies and most of the lecturers are very successful in the business world.

What advice would you give our students who are interested in starting their own business, perhaps even in the food sector?

If you clearly feel that you want to start an idea, then go for it! If you already have deep-seated doubts before you start, then don't go for it, as it's a really hard path that involves a willingness to make sacrifices. However, I would still recommend working in start-ups or grown-ups to all those who have doubts, as in my opinion the learning curve is steeper in dynamic companies. If you are in a corporation, try to work in areas where innovation takes place and entrepreneurial thinking is encouraged.

 

In our anniversary year 2024, we present stories of people and companies that are closely associated with HSBA. Further information on all events and activities in our anniversary year can be found here: 20 years of HSBA