This week, we chat to startup co-founders, Artur and Denny. Find out how Artur got the idea for the startup when he was an international student in the UK – and get some tips for setting up your own company.
Tell us some quick facts about you…
I’m Artur, I’m the Co-Founder of the Retromixer. I’m originally from Poland and have studied in the UK, where I took my Masters degree at the University of Edinburgh. Before that, I lived in Germany where I worked in the aerospace industry.
I’m Denny, I’m from Germany and I’m the other Co-Founder of the Retromixer. After taking my Bachelor in Industrial Engineering, I landed a Graduate Trainee position at Unilever in the German city of Hamburg. I didn’t study abroad, although seeing Artur’s great experience, I now wish I had.
How would you describe the Retromixer in 30 words?
Denny: The Retromixer is an adapter that you attach to your hot and cold water taps to get warm water. It fits all size taps and is safe for drinking water, too.
Why did you decide to spend your time and money on developing the Retromixer?
Artur: When I rented my accommodation in Scotland, I had separate taps and couldn’t believe I could get either very hot water or very cold water – but I couldn’t get warm water. Everyone around me was complaining about the same problem but there was no solution for it on the market. So Denny and I decided to build that solution.
Why did you bring in Denny as a Co-Founder?
Artur: I was doing my Masters at the time – which in the UK lasts only 1 year, making it really very intense. Lucky for me, Denny had just become available to work on the project.
Denny: Of course being very good friends is not always a good basis for becoming good business partners. But in our case, we knew our skills complemented each other, and we trusted each other to make it work.
How did you make sure your idea was a good one? What did you do to test it?
Denny: We did a lot of market research to start with. We looked at what products were already out there, whether there were any patents, who our competitors and target audience may be, and so on.
Artur: We then started connecting with people in person and on social media. We did interviews, surveys, and really tried to understand if the separate taps were a problem. We also tested if people wanted and liked a solution like the Retromixer.
You got some help from your university – what did that look like?
Artur: The University of Edinburgh has many departments that support student entrepreneurship. I attended some seminars and workshops on entrepreneurship and found these extremely helpful. I learned a lot about the initial steps to founding a business and how to put into reality my idea.
Who is your target audience? How are you reaching them?
Denny: Our primary target audience are international students in the UK. Many international students in the UK complain about the separate taps here. They live in rented accommodation and can’t change the taps.
Artur: Of course, the Retromixer is not only for students but for anyone who is fed up with having separate taps. The ‘home-made’ solution doesn’t look very good, the plastic may not be safe under high temperature, and the water pressure makes the bottles fall out.
What has the feedback been? Are you getting the interest you expected?
Artur: People have been very positive about the Retromixer. Many have said, “finally, someone dealing with the problem”. So feedback and interest have been very positive.
Denny: But one mistake that startups often make is that they build a product and they think it will just sell itself. Of course it’s not easy like that. You have to work really hard to spread the word about your product, generate interest and to convince people of the benefits.
What has your biggest challenge been?
Artur: The crowdfunding campaign. There are some barriers to the support you can get for your project. For example, the method of payment that some crowdfunding sites accept or don’t accept can stop some people from supporting you.
Denny: Another challenge is opening a business bank account. Because startups can fail, banks will look carefully at your bank account application. So it’s good to be aware of that.
What advice do you have for international students who want to set up a company?
Artur: If you have an idea for a business, write it down. Find people who are passionate about innovation and start brainstorming with them. And use all the support available at your university for student entrepreneurship. Many universities in the UK are quite good at supporting student entrepreneurs, so find out what’s available at your university.
Denny: Now is the time to start-up your own company and the UK is a great place for startups. Just keep your costs low at the beginning. If you have a product, spend as little as possible on the prototype as your idea will continue to evolve and change.
What are you most excited about right now?
Denny: Having our own product and being able to interact with our target market as well as other startups and entrepreneurs.
Can you convince our readers to start using the Retromixer in 30 words?
Artur: Tired of having either scalding hot or freezing cold water when washing your hands, face, or the dishes? With the Retromixer you get a low-cost, great-looking, safe and simple solution.
About Our Guests
Artur Napiorkowski and Denny Schenk are the Co-Founders of the Retromixer.
The Retromixer is an adaptor for separate hot and cold water taps – a problem that many international students in the UK are more than aware of.
If you have separate taps in your student accommodation and would like to try out the Retromixer, you can pre-order it for £10 + shipping.
Here’s how you can connect with Artur and Denny: