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”Quality is everything to us”

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The Good Guys Kombucha is a kombucha brewery in Pirkkala, Finland. The company’s mission is to offer better alternatives among the beverage selection at shops.

Kombucha is a fermented tea with a rich history. Co-founder of The Good Guys, Markus Klöf, says that there may be written records of this traditional drink from 2,000 years ago. In this millennium, the drink gained sudden popularity in the US as it is an excellent alternative for sugary soft drinks. The product is also becoming increasingly popular in Europe, and Finland is the second fastest growing market, right after the UK. However, Klöf says there is still room for growth and a lot to do.

“Currently, there are many different kombuchas on the market; our message focuses on ‘traditionally’ fermented kombucha,” Klöf says, summarising his business. “We mainly operate in the Finnish market. At the start of the year, we expanded to the shops owned by S Group. We’ve also started sales in Sweden, but there’s still market left to cover in Finland.”

Quality consists of several factors

From its founding, The Good Guys Kombucha has focused on keeping the company’s values, goals and operating methods along the same lines.
”Quality is everything to us,” Klöf states. Organically farmed ingredients are equally important to prevent pesticides from ruining kombucha’s positive effects. Klöf believes that people should not consume what insects and other animals are afraid to eat. The company also aims to have its representatives personally visit all tea farms whose products they use. This way, they can have an idea of the conditions where the tea is cultivated and the people working there.

“Thanks to that, we can tell the whole story of our products, ingredients included, and ensure that the quality really meets our expectations,” Klöf says.

Growth and networking despite challenges

You can also make kombucha at home. The Good Guys’ process is very close to the method with which you could make the drink at home. Regardless, the company is not a minor operator – it has managed to become Finland’s largest kombucha producer and turn a profit in only two years.

“We’ve managed to create an extensive partner network with international kombucha breweries and started close collaboration with other Finnish kombucha producers to promote and support this entire industry,” Klöf says.

Naturally, there have been some challenges along the way, but the company has overcome them. “At first, we had to learn everything from scratch, sometimes by trial and error,” Klöf reminisces. “For instance, our first brewhouse didn’t have a temperature-controlled fermentation room. The hot summer took us completely by surprise, and some of our products exploded in their bottles. We had to recall products from shops.”

Focus on what you’re doing

Klöf believes that Tampere region’s start-up ecosystem supports companies well, but other factors also speak for Tampere’s strong status among start-up entrepreneurs. “Tampere has an excellent network of businesses that provide support and services,” Klöf states. “The central location is also essential in terms of the Finnish market. Proximity to Helsinki also helps when you need to travel there often.”
Klöf reminds start-ups that despite the great networks, they should primarily concentrate on developing the products and services, as well as outlining and maintaining their focus.

“Even though extensive support is available, going after ‘free money’ shouldn’t drain time or energy from your core operations,” he says. “You can even use a consultant for applying for subsidies so that you can focus on what you truly want to do. Create processes from the start and lower your costs to make your operations profitable.”

Finally, Klöf also advises entrepreneurs to take care of their health and well-being. Even if you are busy and feel tired, physical exercise relieves stress and keeps you going.

“Personally, I forgot how important it is to exercise, and that showed in my energy levels. But things are better now, fortunately. Eat well and exercise!” Klöf says.

Building Tampere’s startup ecosystem together

6Aika – Ecosystems of growth: enabling the growth of companies through collaboration of the Kuutoskaupungit cities

The project supports the access of growth-oriented companies to suitable networks and services supporting research and product development activity. The project is implemented by the six biggest cities in Finland: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku and Oulu, and the Council of Tampere Region. The project is based on the idea of the cities’ active role in supporting the innovation activities of companies and the related support networks.

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