Launching a start-up takes self-confidence and nerves of steel, regardless of when you decide to take the plunge. But setting up your own business during a global pandemic while still studying? That takes more bravery than most could summon. Yet this is precisely what Fabian Ronig (MSc Entrepreneurship, 2020) has done, launching Smoofii a new brand selling and delivering ready-to-blend smoothie kits.
Fabian completed his Bachelor’s degree in Germany before deciding he wanted to move to London to study MSc Entrepreneurship at the Business School (formerly known as Cass), where he was a recipient of the Stelios Scholarship – funded by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Fabian explains, “on the financial side, it was a huge relief”, adding that “the scholarship wasn’t just about the financial support, it was about really being part of the Stelios Foundation as an ambassador”.
I always had [an entrepreneurial] mindset… but the foundation relieved the pressure of feeling that you are all alone”
As part of the Foundation, Fabian attended a reunion with the previous Stelios scholars which he said, “opened up great networking opportunities”. Meeting inspirational people with the same entrepreneurial spirit, who had been in the same position as him in years before, gave Fabian the inspiration and courage he needed to start his own business. He notes that he has always had an entrepreneurial mindset but “the foundation relieved the pressure of feeling that you are all alone, they created the community feeling”.
This environment said to me ‘hey, go for it!’”
Beyond his experience as a Stelios Scholar he explains, “I was more inspired to actually found a company, by London as a city: it’s a crazy place. The people on my masters had different ambitions and different perspectives on life and their journeys”. He explains the combination of the diversity of his course combined with the energy and support of “basically everyone from the Business School who were into entrepreneurship… be it lecturers or people from the LaunchLab” built a thrilling network of people eager to support young entrepreneurs. “This environment said to me ‘hey, go for it’”.
However, in March of 2020, Fabian’s studies were disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Rather than feeling demoralised, Fabian used this as an opportunity to innovate. He recalls the change to virtual learning, “I have to say the Business School managed it quite successfully, they took around a week to shift everything online”. Finding himself suddenly with more time on his hands, Fabian explains, “I wasn’t going to sit around doing nothing but my studies”.
I wasn’t going to sit around doing nothing but my studies”
Fabian explains he has always been interested in fitness and keeping healthy, but this was thrown into a new light during lockdown: gyms were closed and exercise was limited. He found himself hunting for a book on the benefits of specific micronutrients. He realised, “there is no such book – I just have to write it” and using his university access, he plunged into his own research.
Armed with his new knowledge, Fabian decided that not only would this make a great book, but it would make an excellent smoothie product: thus, Smoofii was born. Smoofii delivers frozen smoothie ingredients packed with specific micronutrients to produce specific health benefits, offering door to door delivery across North London.
Any budding entrepreneur would be right to be inspired by Fabian, who has shown that the most trying times can still produce bold business ideas. Wrapping up our conversation, Fabian shares some advice for anyone seeking to start their own business: “Decide how much you are willing to trade – money- and timewise. Don’t be afraid to hire other people early on, be honest with your strengths and weaknesses. Spending money early on will allow you to economise your time and build on your specific skill set”.
We can’t wait to see how Fabian gets on!
Meanwhile, do visit and check out Smoofii.