Meet Jessica Farda, Co-Founder & CEO, Noriware
Noriware is a young company – founded in 2022. What does Noriware stand for?
Noriware stands for transparency, innovation and benefit creation. Our mission is to develop innovative and environmentally conscious solutions for the packaging industry by using algae, a sustainable and regenerative raw material. We strive to create a harmonious balance between the shelf life of the packaged products and the sustainability of the packaging. At Noriware, our vision is that every company and brand should have the opportunity to package their products in an environmentally responsible way.
Founding a start-up takes courage. When did you know it was the right moment to start?
When I found out that you can make packaging materials from algae that compost 100% at home, I already knew that I would start the company. I believed in the idea from the beginning and especially in algae as a rapidly renewable and regenerative resource. The point at which my co-founder, Stefan Grieder, and I effectively founded the company had to do with the fact that you had to be a founded company for certain research grants. However, even without this initial situation, we would have founded the company at that time, as we were already in talks with customers and investors and thus a certain seriousness in our appearance was necessary.
When you look at the big picture, where is Noriware on the startup journey?
We were able to raise CHF 1 million in investment capital in May 2023. With this money, we are currently expanding our laboratory and office infrastructure in Lupfig AG, have expanded our team and are developing our products in collaboration with our customers, with whom we have planned test procedures to incorporate their market needs into our applications.
However, there is still a long way to go before the product is ready for the market. We are constantly improving the formulations of our films and testing the material first on laboratory machines and then with our production partner on larger manufacturing machines. We are also optimizing the storability and compostability of the materials. We plan to use our first application commercially for the first time in 2024.
What is your biggest highlight?
It’s difficult to say what our biggest highlight is – there are so many! On the one hand, we have made tremendous progress in product and process development. In addition, we were able to enter into collaborations with renowned Swiss companies that will buy our products in the future. Not only did we close an extremely high pre-seed financing round this year, but we also had the privilege of having successful serial entrepreneurs as investors and board members, with whom we maintain an extremely active and valuable relationship. And finally, the biggest highlight is our team. Every single team member is hugely motivated, extremely competent and goes the extra mile to make our vision a reality.
Funding is an important issue for start-ups. How do you experience the VC environment?
Now I experience the VC environment a bit more relaxed than in winter/spring 2023. At that time it was mainly difficult because some events that happenedin the economy, especially as a startup that needed capital, were clearly felt. As a hardware startup, it is generally not very easy to find capital because the development is very resource-intensive and relatively higher risk. Therefore, VCs were not explicitly suitable for our phase at that time.
If your younger self were reading this interview, what would you like to tell her?
To have less self-doubt. Consistency, perseverance and hard work pay off.
There are few female founders in Switzerland. Why do you think that is and what should change so that more women start up?
This issue goes back a long way and does not only concern female founders. In Switzerland, we are already trained since primary school to obtain good grades so that we are qualified for a good job and can apply for it. Fostering entrepreneurial skills and exploring entrepreneurship as a career option are often underrepresented or missing from the curriculum altogether.
In addition, gender stereotypes play a big role and can strongly influence the self-confidence and expectations of girls and young women. The bottom line is that support structures such as access to mentors are also lacking. When women are not represented in business at higher levels and in entrepreneurship, there is a lack of female role models that young women can look to for guidance.
It is incredibly important to make successful female entrepreneurs visible and share their stories to inspire other women.
What advice would you give to women who want to start a business?
Just go for it if you have an idea. It’s extremely exciting and there’s nowhere you learn as much as when you have to figure out from scratch how to build a company and bring a product to market. Gender doesn’t matter.
Find Noriware’s Website here