Operating in the same market does not always make competitors. Despite the alcoholic beverages industry being heavily restricted by laws and regulations, it is also an industry with a lot of cooperation going on between different players. Especially the field of craft beer has a myriad of informal collaborating amongst small breweries – competitors in one sense, but collectively seeing themselves as working towards similar goals and in contrast to the “big players”.
Cabbage farmers with passion to innovate and work with various projects involving farming, nature, bees and handcraft, Sugar Daddies Co. based in Iso-Kyrö is a good case where linked missions influence business actions, strategy and decision making. Conveyed through for example in their company story, establishment of a foundation for saving the bees (Sugar Daddies Foundation) and shining light on the actions of the ‘little ones’ at work in their Instagram and Facebook posts, the core mission is raising awareness over their mass extinction and the important work bees are engaged with.
“One evening while paddling through the waves we started thinking from where to get surf wax that would stick like no other and be as ecological as possible. After surf enjoying a hot tea with honey it hit like a lightning. Bees are going to solve our small problem by helping us crafting Arctic Surf Waxand making all of our lives sweeter than ever at the same time – literally.”
– Sugar Daddies
These surf enthusiasts also aim to provide ecological alternative products to the surfing community and thus, contribute to the livability of our oceans and seas across the globe; as such tackling important another mission. Juho Wiberg explains that the starting point for their surf wax was purely from an ecological standing point. They wanted to create something that could even be eaten or wouldn’t cause any harm if accidentally dropped into the ocean. Through tests with the arctic surf community in the Lofoten to the tropics in Bali, Indonesia, a wax consisting three basic elements of spruce resin, beeswax and hemp oil (and some secret herbs) was created – basically created with something that could be picked up from your own backyard.
Over all, the Sugar Daddies also hope that their activities combined with other innovative new companies in Iso-Kyrö, such as Kyrö Distillery, will bring sustainable change and wellbeing in the Kyrö region. Interestingly, there seems to be active drivers in this community who are bringing together like-minded actors within the Iso Kyrö region and sharing knowledge amongst each other.
One example of product co-creation in venture-restaurant partnership can be found between Michelin-star restaurant Ora and the raw cacao chocolate-maker Goodio. The relationship between the two started out with Goodio supplying their chocolate to chef Sasu Laukkonen, who had been on the lookout for interesting Finnish made artisan chocolate. Initial good experiences encouraged the restaurant and chocolatiers to deepen their collaboration. They ended up co-creating Goodio’s Nordic Flavours series, drawing inspiration from Finnish nature. The chef of Ora played a key role in figuring out how to produce the signature crystals in the chocolate.
“Sasu Laukkonen, who has used our chocolate in his menus, was actually developing our Nordic Flavours series. He worked with us on the taste profiles and was brainstorming the flavours with us. Sasu went to the woods to get spruce and got them crystallised, among other things.” – Jan Vilppo, Goodio
Both parties benefited from the new product series – Ora got new treats to be added to their desert menu and Goodio luxurious products to help them stand out in domestic and international markets. Similar ways of working and a shared value base helped to ensure smooth collaboration. Indeed, in addition to – and sometimes despite of – financial motives, such collaborations are often sparked by mutual cultures of experimentation, belonging to the same community, the desire to help other entrepreneurs, or simply enjoying working together.
“The founders of Goodio are similar to me, spontaneous. They want to develop good things and good vibes, and in that we are similar. You usually need similar minded people to do collaborations with, that’s when the work will be fun. Not only is personal chemistry important, but also the way that the other business operates. They have such a good mentality in working, they really can rise above the bulk with their quality.”
– Sasu Laukkonen, Ora
For chefs, their work is often full of experimenting with flavours, ingredients and preparation methods. While product development “as usual” is done within-team, collaborating with similar-minded others outside of the organization can help reach a creative “shared grey zone where you can freely romp about”. Such experimentation can lead to valuable outputs and learnings, despite being unable to predict at the start where these creative collaborations will lead to. As such, the entrepreneurial logic is not trying to predict the future, but rather attempting to create it through action.
“The targets of the collaborations will crystallise themselves with time in co-creation. Very rarely are there any formal assignments. More fluffing around, doing all sorts of things. And what’s produced as a result is free to use.”
– Sasu Laukkonen, Ora
Already familiar with utilizing the expertise of bartenders in their earlier products, Kyrö Distillery Company decided to utilize the expertise of international bartenders in developing their bitters. After choosing seven bartenders as co-developers, the company sent out development kits of herb distillments for them to mix and experiment with. An open-ended development period started where the bartenders could create their own bitters, and with them also cocktails using the company’s other products.
“This was really open-ended, we just decided that we want to do a bitter, but we hadn’t limited it beyond that. Another scope decision, which of course was made consciously, was that we chose bartenders, so that we could in a way get a bitter that would be possible to mix or use in cocktails.”
– Kyrö Distillery
Video conferences were used to share recipes and ideas periodically. Finally, the co-creators were invited to the distillery in Isokyrö for a three day workshop on finalizing the product on-site. The co-created bitters were then moved to internal development and prepared for production. Two bitters were launched just in time for a bitter Valentine’s Day event in 2018, banding together with the bitter chocolates of Goodio to offer an alternative mood for the traditionally sugary sweet celebrations.
While the collaboration ran smoothly, in hindsight, Kyrö Distillery realised that bitters was an unclear product category to end consumers. They learned that running a parallel group of consumers would be a good addition to collaborating with experts.
With the brand heritage stemming from the suburban underground scene in Olari, Espoo, the namesake Olarin Panimo has not only street credibility, but also upbeat methods for their product development.
Since its founding, 3 Friends has established a permanent place in customers’ hearts and freezers with its delicious ice cream. However, when the three founders decided to venture into the realm of vegan products, they faced a completely new development challenge: how to create a vegan ice cream on a par with their quality standards?
A fair amount of experimentation, revision and courage was needed for Sunspelt to turn a product letdown into a success with a strong market positioning and an established place in customers’ kitchens.
Although tea has been around for thousands of years, there can still be room to innovate. Taking a stance on changing the way we drink tea in the Nordics and raising awareness over the remarkable natural resources in our backyards, NORD-T has created the first of a kind Finnish Tea Ceremony.
When the three founders of 3 Kaveria (“three friends”) were designing their first products, they created quick prototypes of the packaging and took these to the freezer aisle of a store to test them in context. This testing led to a crucial turn: