A Founder's 2020: the year I ran a risky crowdfunding, developed an anxiety disorder and grew revenue by over +400%

Published 8 months ago by Julia Devecchi
naanu Foods AG, naanu, Vegpreneur, Founder Institute, crowdfunding, planet, sustainability, supplement, plantbased, vegan, foodtech, startup

Hi fellow entrepreneurs, vegans, customers, team members, friends, family, investors, change-makers, sustainability heroes, and anyone else!

We started off our year with the challenge of rebranding from HappyBites (shout out to the OG’s who’ve known us since being HappyBites) to naanu (natural and nutritious) due to some newly filed trademarky.

With a new company name we incorporated into a public limited company (naanu Foods AG) shortly before our startup turned 1-year-old in April (since the idea-inception at Founder Institute Zurich).

We almost called off our crowdfunding campaign due to Covid-19 reaching Switzerland. Yet with a little help from our fearless Advisors we launched anyway, hopeful that the Swiss economy wouldn’t take a hit and that people would still support small businesses. Our gamble paid off! We received some awesome PR attention as we were featured on vegconomist and were covered in Mic The Vegan’s startup news on YouTube that got 34k views. We found our ‘Cookie Monster’ and over-crowdfunded at 129%.

To fulfill our new crowdfunding rewards and on-going naanu subscriptions we partnered with eatbyAlex, a certified vegan kitchen in Zurich. There were a few mishaps in the new kitchen, however. We messed up several batches of cookies, but quickly established as a team how to solve our quality control issues, and continued having fun in the kitchen together.

Not to fear, no cookie went to waste, we are hot for sustainability after all!

After pitching a research plan in August for our innovative approach in vitamin development, we were granted 5’000CHF from Innosuisse. (We have since been project planning with EMPA though we can’t share the details yet. It includes a bunch of scientific jargon we thought we’d leave out for now).

In October we moved into an affordable 17.5m2 office with a view of Lake Zurich, because our former Logistics Center, aka piano, was reaching its capacity (see photo below). Soon after, our brand new biodegradable labels arrived from Germany and we absolutely loved them. But a few weeks later we received a rather painful import tax bill (Who knew? I didn’t. I cried… Swiss import tax is a b*tch).

We experienced some additional highs:

  • Our early adopters/ customers reached their 12th month of subscription!
  • Launched our small Cookie Tin for on-the-go. 
  • Made our first B2B sales and rethought our entire Business Model. 
  • Featured on FoodHack’s Discovery Board and are the top voted startup that week among global companies with 114 votes 
  • On the first page of a regional newspaper in Aargau

And some lows:

  • Didn’t get accepted into Food-X’s accelerator program after two interviews and lots of excitement (too early stage)
  • I, Julia, developed an anxiety disorder

Some questionable things also happened:

  • Attended the only vegan fair that wasn’t cancelled in 2020 in Switzerland (with precautions and limited visitors) at the 2nd Vegan Basel Messe, to get closer to our customers. Left with mixed feelings about in-person events...

We also found some fun numbers:

417% - revenue growth in the last 6 months

25’955 - CHF raised through crowdfunding 

28’220 - Approximate amount of cookies baked

9 - Packages lost in the post

80  - current version of our recipe

97 Million - Sesame Seeds processed

 

There was some more PR:

Featured on:

Vegpreneur

foodspotters

foodbuzz (in German)

moneycab (in German)

 

Interviewed on:

futurefemaleszurich

e-journal (in German) 

nau.ch (in German) 

startupdate (in German) 

 

We hope you enjoyed our 2020 year in review (definitely one to remember)!

Wishing you all the happiness and health for 2021, 

Julia & naanu Team