Anna Lundström - Maybels (by Maisha Deli Sweden AB)
anna [at] maishadeli [dot] se
Anna Lundström - Maybels #1
Describe yourself and your project. How did you get the idea? (Maximum 75 words)
I'm the founder of Maisha Deli Sweden AB, a company that offers unique tasting delicacies that enables people to eat natural plant-based food – without sacrificing good taste and variety. The initial brand is Maybels, consisting of two of our most beloved foods - cheese and butter. The business was created when I, a cheese-loving girl, fell in love with a guy who's vegan, and none of the vegan cheeses on the market satisfied my need.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
I see myself as an energetic visionary with a big heart. I strive for making an impact and spend my time with meaningful tasks, not only for myself but for the society as a whole. With a bachelor in psychology and a master in international development management, my educational and professional background is not within the food industry. I also run an NGO in Tanzania and was working with UNICEF Malawi before starting the company.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
I'll focus on finding a suitable contract manufacturer as well as testing, optimizing and ensuring that the recipes and manufacturing processes of three products can be effectively adapted to industrial manufacturing without losing taste, consistency and quality.
I'll also focus on branding and building up the company, applying for European trademarks and securing essential funding. I'll contact potential customers for verification and initial sales of my brand concept and products.
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
To have verified the manufacturing processes of the three products, and to have found a reliable collaborating partner for the manufacturing. I hope to have secured funding for initiating the production and that the trademark applications are being processed. I also hope that the branding has moved forward, and to have found some costumers considering their first orders.
Anna Lundström - Maybels #2
Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.
My main focus has been to carry out test trials of recipes and processes on a larger scale in a pilot testing facility. The goal with this was to adjust, optimize and verify two of my products for a later commercial manufacturing process. I have also searched for co-manufacturers where I among other things have been on a ”Free from food expo”* in Barcelona, with the aim to look for potential manufacturers and future customers, as well as researching the general free from food market and my main competitors.
*an expo that focuses on products that are free from for example dairy, gluten, lactose and/or animal produce etc.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
The pilot testing was more challenging than hoped for, where I encountered challenges with both the planning of, and the executing of the trials, due to factors I couldn't foresee. More testing of both recipes and processes are needed. Despite this, I learned a lot from these challenges. The food expo was a good and useful experience, mostly for scanning the ”free from food market”. I made a couple of contacts that could be useful for the future, but I have unfortunately still not found a co-manufacturer for my products.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
I'm in the process of scheduling another test trial. I would have wished for trying out another facility but my options are unfortunately scarce due to the products' innovative aspects and the fact that they contain nuts. I'm continuing to look for manufacturing options in Sweden and within the EU. I will also work on the EU trademark application and look for available funds to apply for. At the same time I'm working on my website and other social medias. I'll also start to contact potential customers.
Anna Lundström - Maybels #3
How did you experience the three months?
Good! It has been valuable to network, meet and learn together with, and from, other Leapfrogers. The pitch trainings were useful experiences, both to practice pitching and to receive valuable feedback. Also, I'm so very happy to have been given the chance to work on my project full time without worrying about money!
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
My biggest frustration during the last three months has been the difficulties to find a producer that can manufacture my products.
The most enjoyable is to already have received such a great feedback on my products, which has created interest from several bigger customers, both national and international.
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
Not really, some things went better and faster than expected, and other things are taking much more time than planned. I'm still looking for manufacturing possibilities, but instead, I do have some bigger customers waiting for my products. I will definitely continue working with my project, full time!
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
It's difficult to only choose one, but one of the important things that I've learnt is to hold on to my strong and clear vision. I've experienced small and big challenges a long the way, and things have been frustrating and taken more time than I've wished for, but I have continued my work towards my vision, and eventually things have also started to fall into place.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
I would say the following:
- don't wait - go for it! (You will notice quite fast if this is your thing)
- involve customers/end consumers early
- have at least a couple of persons that you trust and that believe in you, and look for an advisor (it can be quite a lonely road)
- practice in prioritizing your time well (easier said than done)
- don't be discouraged by challenges, no-sayers or critical views (they will always be there)
- dream big and hold on to your vision!