With a strong UTC entrepreneurial fibre

Sarah Benos­man, who grad­u­at­ed from UTC in 2009, although start­ing her career as an eco-design con­sul­tant, found­ed the start-up Vrac’n Roll in 2016, the first organ­ic and zero waste online shop. Here is a por­trait of a young woman with clear ideas, deter­mi­na­tion and a strong entre­pre­neur­ial spirit. 

Does Sarah have clear ideas? Yes indeed and she demon­strat­ed this when, as a young 5th year high school stu­dent at Per­pig­nan, she want­ed to choose an edu­ca­tion path that would allow her to “rec­on­cile,” she says, “her taste for sci­ence and for all that is artis­tic and cre­ative”. “I have always loved sci­ence but also the arts. I used to draw a lot, do music – I spent two years at the Con­ser­va­to­ry -, doing the­atre train­ing, etc.” 

Still think­ing clear­ly? “It was a friend’s uncle work­ing in the design depart­ment at PSA (Peu­geot auto­mo­bile Co) who told me that the UTC was offer­ing train­ing cours­es for design engi­neers — I did­n’t even know that exist­ed,” she admits. That’s when she made her choice. It was going to be UTC­Com­pieg­ne. “In 2004, my final high school year, I was invit­ed for dossier based inter­views UTC. And give that I obtained my “Bacc” cum lau­dae, I was admit­ted to UTC,” explains Sarah Benosman. 

She def­i­nite­ly does not regret her choice here, even if she admits receiv­ing a “slap” in the first semes­ter. “I was far from my par­ents. I thought it was great to have my own apart­ment, to see my friends when­ev­er I want­ed. I also appre­ci­at­ed the very free spir­it of an engi­neer­ing school where you could choose your sub­jects, where you did­n’t feel the pres­sure of grades and so on. As a result, I did­n’t work a lot. The result was not long in com­ing: I failed half of my sub­jects. It was bad news for me. My pride took a bash­ing. For me, who grad­u­at­ed from high school “with hon­ours” with­out too much effort, it was a hard fall,” she says. But her deter­mi­na­tion remained intact. “I real­ized that I ran the risk of being expelled from an estab­lish­ment that I hadn’t cho­sen at ran­dom. Luck­i­ly, the work place­ment gave me a chance to recov­er. At the end of this intern­ship, which went very well, I admit­ted to the jury that I could only blame myself, and I promised to be more rig­or­ous, more reg­u­lar in my work. Although they doubt­ed my abil­i­ty to con­tin­ue along this path, I man­aged to con­vince them. They trust­ed me — a qual­i­ty that can­not be denied at school. It’s a trust that I’ve respect­ed, since I haven’t failed a sin­gle sub­ject in the rest of my UTC years,” she adds. 

How­ev­er, her pas­sage through Carl­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, Ottawa, Cana­da in her third year made her doubt her choice. “We were learn­ing a lot about draw­ing and mate­ri­als. But that’s when I real­ized there was one thing I did­n’t like: the client choos­ing which con­cepts to pur­sue, not the design­er. I, for one, was putting too much emo­tion into the pro­posed con­cepts and the fact that my favourites were not cho­sen did not please me at all. In short, I real­ized that I love to work more in par­tic­i­pa­to­ry inno­va­tion, help­ing peo­ple find ideas, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the cre­ativ­i­ty phase, lead­ing work groups, look­ing for new mate­ri­als, etc. I also love to work with peo­ple in the design process. Emmanuel Cor­bas­son, head of the UTC design Depart­ment, and oth­er teach­ers from the UTC helped me in this increased aware­ness process through var­i­ous excit­ing projects. The design course has con­tin­ued to sup­port me in my var­i­ous pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ences, in par­tic­u­lar by train­ing new stu­dents that I have been able to take on intern­ships and now on per­ma­nent con­tracts,” she emphasizes. 

Con­vinced by and attract­ed to the busi­ness world dur­ing her var­i­ous intern­ships, Sarah joined Evea, an eco-design con­sult­ing firm (found­ed by Jean-Bap­tiste Puy­ou, him­self a UTC grad­u­ate engi­neer) as soon as she com­plet­ed her stud­ies in 2009. She stayed with Evea for sev­en years, but the desire to become an entre­pre­neur was the stronger. It is quite nat­u­ral­ly that she responds to a call for projects from the ADEME (French Envi­ron­ment and Ener­gy Man­age­ment Agency) for ecoin­no­va­tions, with the result that she receives sub­stan­tial fund­ing over three years. Vrac’n Roll, an e‑commerce com­pa­ny, was born. With one leit­mo­tiv: 0 waste. 

“We start­ed with a dri­ve and home deliv­ery in Lyon and the sur­round­ing region. Since Octo­ber 2019, we have been deliv­er­ing all over France via Relais Col­is de France points — gro­ceries, hygiene goods, zero waste acces­sories (e.g., reusable stain­less steel drink­ing straws), etc. — in return­able box­es made of light and resis­tant plas­tic. Box­es that are shipped and returned in a patent­ed, reusable pack­age,” sum­maris­es Sarah Benosman. 

More on the offi­cial web­site https://vracnroll.com/

Le magazine

Avril 2024 - N°62

Faire face aux enjeux environnementaux

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