Connect with the INCluSilver Community
Date: April 3, 2019
Looking for a place to meet like-minded entrepreneurs, share knowledge and take the next steps to business growth? Join the INCluSilver Community on LinkedIn
“How do I turn my idea into a growing business?” That’s the question on every entrepreneur’s mind. And it’s the reason why we have established an exclusive meeting place on LinkedIn where INCluSilver partners can share and develop ideas and make new international contacts.
One of the partners you are likely to meet in the INCluSilver Community is Thomas Olander from Veg of Lund – a Swedish startup company that is already well on the road to success with its patented My Foodie drinks. All are based on an innovative plant-based emulsion which provides 50% of the daily recommended omega-3 intake.
Veg of Lund recently received a EUR 1 million investment to support the growth of the business. Thomas shared some of his experiences in the following interview:
How did you know there was commercial potential in the special emulsion invented by Professor Eva Tornberg?
When Eva told me about the specialised patented emulsion, I realised it was both plant-based and healthy. Since I’ve been in the food industry for a long time, I was aware of these mega-trends and saw a huge opportunity in it.
What were your first steps to transforming the idea into a business?
The good thing was that Eva already had the drink ready in three flavours – blueberry, raspberry and sea buckthorn so we didn’t have to invest that much time in R&D in the initial phase. The next step was to write a business plan. It wasn’t a big 100-page document, but it had all the elements required. Eva and the board of her company agreed on what the business plan proposed so we could start attracting investors.
When you look back, what has been the biggest struggle so far?
Taking it from lab to factory. There is a huge difference between producing a couple of samples and two thousand litres. Another difficult part was to attract money.
“The bottles of goodness” as Veg of Lund have named their plant based drink product.
Soon you will launch My Foodie in the UK. Why did you choose the UK and what are the difficulties of expanding abroad? Did you have the international perspective in mind from the beginning?
Yes, we did indeed think about the international perspective from the beginning. It was part of the business plan. Based on research and our own experiences, it was clear the UK is a very interesting market for healthy and tasty plant-based products. The great potential also lies in the fact that it’s one of the largest food markets in Europe. The combination of the market being a good match for our product, our own experience in the UK and our connections makes it quite easy for us to go there.
Is the UK launch any different from the Swedish one?
I don’t think so. We will follow the same strategy, starting within a small geographical area and working with small outlets such as coffee shops, high profile retailers and then, eventually, supermarkets.
You are currently celebrating a big investment. What are the challenges when finding investors?
It was quite difficult to get the first investment, because sometimes the business angels need to “sleep on it” and that takes time. We started the company in early 2016 and had no investor until late 2016. The first investment was used to define the brand concept. Thanks to the second round of investments, we could start reaching out to customers who could then start offering My Foodie. The third big investment enabled us to export and increase advertising.
What do you think is the most important aspect of looking for an investor?
It is always extremely helpful to have people in the team who have good links to the investment society. In our case, Lund University was one of the co-founders and that gave us a lot of credibility.
What is the one thing you have learnt during your more than 30 years in the industry and which startups should be aware of?
Make sure your product is relevant and has scalable potential.
The INCluSilver partners