Sarah Fliessbach recently returned from Berlin to establish Shareclub, a reusable packaging solution for events and workplaces.
Shareclub founder Sarah Fliessbach is a recent alumni of the Irish Government’s Back for Business programme.
The Back for Business programme was created in 2018 to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among Irish emigrants returning to Ireland. Now in its seventh year, Back for Business has helped entrepreneurs to significantly grow sales and employment.
“We see a future where reusable sharecups replace disposable cups, eliminating mountains of waste”
Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Back for Business is seeking up to 50 applicants from returned and returning Irish emigrants that wish to start and develop businesses in Ireland. They are invited to apply to participate in the development programme which is tailored to their needs. There is no cost to those selected.
This cycle will run from February to June 2024. The closing date for applications is 5pm on Monday 15 January 2024. Those interested in learning more about applying for Back for Business 7 can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form by visiting Back for Business.
Sarah Fliessbach, originally from Hamburg, Germany, first moved to Dublin at the age of 16 to improve her English. After her Leaving Certificate in 2000, Sarah pursued university studies in Edinburgh and Berlin before embarking on a career in film production in Berlin. In 2018, after 15 years in Berlin, she returned to Ireland.
Back in Dublin, Sarah continued her work in the film industry. However, she noticed a lack of sustainable solutions compared to Germany and this sparked her interest in fostering change.
Motivated by her commitment to the circular economy, she founded Shareclub in 2022, a reusable packaging solution for events and workplaces.
“Living sustainably was essential to me, but I realised the solutions I knew from Germany weren’t prevalent here,” she says. “During the pandemic, things took a concerning turn. Reusable cups were no longer permitted, and with the closure of many restaurants, takeout orders surged. I realised the severity of the disposable cup problem and decided to dive deep into market research to explore innovative solutions.”
Discovering that Ireland discards 22,000 takeaway cups every hour, while almost none get recycled or composted, she established Shareclub to start a sharing revolution. “We see a future where reusable sharecups replace disposable cups, eliminating mountains of waste,” she says.
Shareclub offers reusable packaging such as sharecups for events and workplaces, with the cups delivered to the event venue and collected and cleaned for reuse when it is over.
Shortly after setting up the company, Sarah achieved a significant milestone when Shareclub received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Enterprise Grant. “Receiving the grant was a huge validation, and it gave me the means to really start to develop my solution,” she says.
An innovative app was developed, allowing consumers to track their impact and to borrow and return cups via QR code scanning.
In May 2023, Shareclub launched at the Circular Economy Hotspot in Dublin and made a significant impact throughout the event. “Dublin City Council commissioned us to provide our reusable cups at the event, which was a fantastic opportunity for us,” Sarah says.
Shareclub’s mission is to empower event hosts and corporate workplaces to choose to reuse, one sharecup at a time.
With a growing number of clients, Shareclub has already saved thousands of disposable cups at events. Shareclub not only helps businesses reduce costs but also minimise waste, helping businesses meet their sustainability goals. Its in-app tracking technology provides clients with instant access to their impact data.
Sarah highly recommends the Back for Business programme to any entrepreneurs returning to Ireland. “The programme facilitated invaluable connections and support among diverse entrepreneurs. Even though we were from different industries, we shared similar challenges and were able to support each other,” she says.
Sarah has already hired one employee, a project manager, for Shareclub and is currently looking for a business partner. “It needs to be a person who is as invested and passionate about it as I am,” she says.
Her goal is to expand Shareclub’s solutions for diverse events, from conferences to festivals, by next summer, contributing to Ireland’s journey towards a more circular economy.