Experiencing fairs

Startup success story: from small pioneer to big player

With the idea for insect-based animal feed, the small startup EatSmall took part in the funding programme for a joint stand at Interzoo in 2018 and 2022. Six years after their trade fair premiere, the owners Gema Aparicio and Dr Veronique Glorieux are impressively presenting themselves with their own large stand at Interzoo 2024 - a success story.

Just one year before their first trade fair appearance, Canadian vet Glorieux and Spanish graphic designer Aparicio had matured their sustainable idea in Berlin - to reduce the ecological footprint of pet food. At the beginning of 2018, the newly founded company EatSmall was already well positioned with four product lines and three different training snacks. A short time later, the dynamic duo ventured to take part in Interzoo, the world's largest trade fair for the pet industry, which is organised by the Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft Zoologische Fachbetriebe GmbH (WZF) in Nuremberg. As one of 21 startups at the joint stand for young entrepreneurs, which is subsidised by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

First trade fair appearance as a milestone

As trade fair newcomers, the two were overwhelmed by the response to their first appearance. "We won our very first customers back then," says Veronique Glorieux, "that was a decisive step in our development, a milestone that took us forward by at least a year in four days."

For Bettina Wild, expert for startups and funding at NürnbergMesse, the EatSmall success story is "a great example of how you can make a big entry into the market from a joint stand - this first trade fair participation has strengthened the founders' business idea and created the first important contacts in the industry".

The two succeeded: 2018 was the year their young startup took off. Even before Christmas, several signed contracts with wholesalers were in the safe and a new product line was on the table as a finished design.

Véronique Glorieux and Gema Aparicio

Véronique Glorieux and Gema Aparicio - the founders of the start-up Eat Small - at their first trade fair appearance at Interzoo 2018. 

Community loves Startup Hub NürnbergMesse

Nuremberg is popular with startups. Well over 2,500 young companies have already taken part in the subsidised joint stands and startup areas at leading international trade fairs and used them as a jump-start for the ultimate market test. At this year's Interzoo, there were 60 on a stand area of almost 900 square metres.

NürnbergMesse's status as a Startup-Hub is no coincidence: "We were the first exhibition company in Germany to actively campaign for federal funding - long before the general startup boom -, and we continue to publicise it in the community of young founders to this day," emphasises Bettina Wild.

Start-up Hub of the NürnbergMesse

With the Start-up Hub, NürnbergMesse supports young founders with their first trade fair appearance.  

She and her experienced startup team also fill the subsidised "Young Innovators" joint stands - the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) reimburses up to 60 per cent of the stand costs - with life. With special areas, competitions and guided tours. And with an "all-round carefree package". They support young founders in all phases of trade fair preparation, from registration and funding applications to on-site support during the trade fair.

"We were well coached even before the trade fair and had everything we needed at the stand over the four days - including coffee and biscuits," Véronique Glorieux recalls of the first time. Gema Aparicio is also grateful for the help she received to get started in the market: "Along the way, we met people like Bettina Wild and her team, who really helped us to realise our dreams. The startup part of Interzoo is an incredibly effective platform to get started. I recommend it to everyone!"

Redaktionsmitglied Reinhold Gebhart
Reinhold Gebhart
Online Editorial // Editor for Vincentz Network
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