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Alumni in Focus – The Beekeepers’ Startup

The startup Vatorex has a heart for bees and is concerned about their health. Increasingly, bee colonies die out completely within a period of just three or four years due to infestation with the varroa mite. In the fight against parasites, beekeepers are frequently rather aggressive, using, for example, formic acid, oxalic acid, or other harmful pesticides which cause stress to the bees as well as the beekeepers. Vatorex has developed an alternative, natural treatment method: a hyperthermia system which effectively fights the parasites while protecting the bees. It works by warming up the brood combs from the interior, thus overriding the bees’ natural thermal regulation. We met the young entrepreneurs and had a chat with them.

What is your background? How did you come up with this idea?
Willi Brunner, the brain behind Vatorex, has been a passionate beekeeper for many years. The use of acid to kill varroa mites had been bothering him for a long time, which is why he started to experiment with a natural treatment method using hyperthermia. This method had long been scientifically proven, but could not be applied in practice. The Vatorex system closes this gap.

What do you want to achieve with your venture? What motivates you?
We see great potential in a varroa treatment that is free from chemicals. Many beekeepers want to change from using acid to a way of keeping bees that is as organic as possible. Various stressors – such as acid treatments – lead to high losses of bees every year. We want to change this. One major reason that makes us want to commit fully to our goal is the essential role of bees as pollinators all over the world.

How much time do you spend on your idea? Do you work full-time or part-time? How do you deal with your heavy workload?
Two of us work full-time, one still only part-time. With regard to the workload, you must certainly be willing to work overtime. Self-organization and emotional stability can’t be underestimated, either, because you go through good times and bad times together, and it is not always possible to separate work from the rest of your life.

Where do you plan to be in three years?
We want our company to be well-established and to be moving into other countries. As the founders, we want to develop alongside our project and be ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.

Why should someone invest in your startup?
Bee health is an environmental issue of global proportions which concerns us all. We have developed a system that solves this problem. The next step is for our method to find widespread use. Financially, we are currently in a solid position, but our international expansion will require money at a later stage.

What is the role of innovation in the context of your project and why? Is there something that makes your idea particularly innovative, or is it the implementation that is innovative?
Without innovation, a project rarely has a chance, so we see this aspect as absolutely necessary. Our idea is not rocket science. What is new is its implementation within a system which is practical and at the same time highly effective. As with so many projects, the devil is in the details. In order to combine the many little things, there is a need for innovative ideas and creative concepts.

How did you proceed with the development of your idea? Do you have specialist skills?
From the outset, we focused on a pragmatic approach. If you want to sell a product, it must be customer-friendly. In this regard, our almost 50 years of beekeeping experience were extremely important. In our team, our skills complement each other, which we consider a real advantage. We cover a wide area of expertise, ranging from empiricism and science to innovation and experience, as well as technology and customer needs.

For further details, visit their website: www.vatorex.ch. Contact the team at info@vatorex.ch.

Website: http://www.vatorex.ch/

Impressions:

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