Giulia Francesca Marchetti from Connecting Grounds
June 9, 2022
BY Nina Lyhne
Co-founder and Product Manager in Connecting Grounds – a social innovative startup aiming to repair the unsustainable management of spent coffee grounds in Aarhus by upcycling them into food products
Founded the company in December 2021 with her co-founders – a group of international students from Aarhus University, University of Southern Denmark and VIA University College
Has a bachelor’s degree in Innovation & Entrepreneurhip and now studies a MSc in IT Product Design at the University of Southern Denmark.
How did the idea of becoming an entrepreneur arise?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, therefore, I have always been interested in the entrepreneurial world, in creating something for the people, the planet and for myself. Entrepreneurship gives you the power and the opportunity to change things in the world that needs to be changed – and to really make a difference.
How did you get started with your entrepreneurial journey?
Apart from my education in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, my real entrepreneurial journey started from a Facebook post made by one of the other co-founders of Connecting Grounds, who asked in the group “Aarhus Internationals” for some help in developing her idea that involved upcycling coffee grounds. Back then, I did not know that replying to that post would have made me a co-founder and an entrepreneur, but this is where it all started.
Our entrepreneurial journey as Connecting Grounds took off when we became part of The Kitchen. We now have a wonderful office to work in and we have also won the EarlyCash grant which was helpful to get our product tested by DTU
What has been the biggest challenge in the process?
The biggest challenge has definitely been to accept failure and keep trying to go in the right direction with the startup. During our journey, we have made many mistakes, but by keeping the entrepreneurial mindset of accepting failure, building resilience and never giving up we have managed to keep moving on, even though this has sometimes been challenging.
What does a typical workweek look like in relation to combining your startup with
I am studying in Kolding, so I commute every day from Aarhus – this means that 3 hours of my day are spend on the train. It is mostly during these train rides that I work on Connecting Grounds. Apart from that, we have a fixed weekly meeting in the evening where the entire team is present to share updates, divide tasks, stay connected with each other and much more. In addition, we have a fixed monthly meeting that is usually 5-6 hours long where we work on something altogether, and where we take more time to discuss and make decisions, among other things.
How do you use your academic skills as an entrepreneur?
My studies in Innovation & Entrepreneurship have definitely taught me different skills, methods and tools to use. I also find that the MSc I am studying now is relevant to Connecting Grounds since my studies are very much focused on research and design. I can use these skills in gathering different types of data, analyzing the data (most of this data so far is related to customers, value propositions and co-creations on the product) and building a frame of what to do next. Through my studies, I am also gaining hard skills that will come in handy when we start prototyping the packaging of our products.
Where is your startup today, and what are your dreams for the future?
Connecting Grounds today is growing! We just got our first intern, and we are so excited about it. We are experimenting on a second end-product and participating in many workshops from Food & Bio Cluster and WasteLife. For the future, my dream is to have a profitable and scalable business in different parts of Europe that not only upcycles spent coffee grounds, but other ingredients for a greener world, without compromising on taste and nutrients.
Your best advice for other students who are considering becoming entrepreneurs?
There is so much power in turning an idea into something physical, tangible, a solution to a problem… Entrepreneurship is not only a journey, but also a mindset – it changes you in many ways, both professionally and personally. My advice is to go out of your comfort zone, have a “YES”- mindset, try things out even if they keep not working out, accept failure and consider it your best friend, because it is through mistakes that you learn the most. In short, my advice is to keep making mistakes because these mistakes will bring you exactly where you want to go.