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Start-ups with a future

Three start-ups show what is possible – including in sectors that have not been previously known for their sustainability.

Martin Orth, 11.09.2021
Wingcopter: The entrepreneurs and their novel aircraft
Wingcopter: The entrepreneurs and their novel aircraft © Wingcopter Jonas Wresch

The drone that saves lives

After abandoning their university studies, Jonathan Hesselbarth, Tom Plümmer and Ansgar Kadura developed an aircraft that combines the best properties of a helicopter with those of a fixed-wing aeroplane and then prepared to launch it onto the market with their company. Known as a wingcopter, it comes with some impressive features: it can take off and land on very small spaces without the need for any runway, it reaches speeds of 150 kilometres an hour and has a range of 120 kilometres, and can carry loads of six kilograms. The electric delivery drone is battery-powered and is opening up entirely new possibilities in logistics. For example, the US air rescue service Air Methods is planning to team up with the Hesse-based start-up to tap into new fields of business, using drones to transport urgent medical supplies such as drugs, blood bags, blood samples or donated organs.


Screenshot Ecosia
Ecosia: Protecting the climate with search queries.


The search engine that plants trees

Business administration graduate Christian Kroll has created a green alternative to Google. His search engine slows climate change rather than maximising profits. To achieve this, he entered into a cooperation with Microsoft. Anyone who enters a search query on Ecosia will be presented with the same results as on Microsoft’s search engine Bing. This same is true when one clicks on adverts, but Microsoft sees where the queries have come from and returns a large portion of the revenues to the Berlin start-up. Ecosia uses this money to plant trees – over 132 million of them to date. Furthermore, Ecosia’s servers are run on green electricity. Ecosia is now the world’s eighth most-used search engine.

Vinokilo: Robin Balser is bringing vintage into fashion.
Vinokilo: Robin Balser is bringing vintage into fashion. © Vinokilo

A trend that is coming into fashion

Charismatic entrepreneur Robin Balser hopes that his start-up Vinokilo will do nothing short of turning the European textiles industry inside out. It all started six years ago when he would sell used clothing by weight at events in his flat in Mainz. Previously, he had still been handpicking the individual items from a second-hand clothes dealer. Sales are now going through the roof. His employees pick out the best clothes from recyclers – not only in Germany, but all over Europe – and have already saved hundreds of tons of clothing. “Vintage is the new new”, is the company’s motto. Even major fashion houses and brands have meanwhile joined the trend.


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