If you are still looking for your niche in eCommerce, food is the answer. Max Wittrock and his two other mymuesli Co-Founders Hubertus Bessau and Philipp Kraiss are a walking proof that a successful eCommerce business idea might as well come from as close as your breakfast bowl. In this interview, Max Wittrock assures that food market is big enough to accommodate everyone.
Paulina, Ecommerce Capitals: Mymuesli is one of the tastiest and the healthiest eCommerce brands in Europe! But how did it all start? How did selling cereals online turn into a business?
Max Wittrock, Co-Founder, mymuesli: It all started in 2005 when we took a trip to the lake. All three of us were students in the Bavarian town of Passau at the time, and on our way to the lake we heard a radio ad for a muesli company. This got us thinking. Users have long been able to choose their browsing content online, yet not the contents of their breakfast bowl! After a couple of hours of brainstorming, we were all in agreement: We not only wanted to make better radio ads, we wanted to make better muesli. Our muesli should source ingredients regionally wherever possible, these should all be organic, free of artificial aromas, colourants and additives, and contain as little sugar as possible. But above all, our muesli should be personalised.
Due to our university commitments, however, we had to dedicate a lot of our free time to working on the project. At some point we realised that we wanted to use the idea to start our own business.
On 30 April 2007 the website mymuesli.com went online. This was just the start of an incredibly exciting journey for us.
It has been a decade since the company started selling personalised muesli mixtures. In eCommerce and the world of start-ups shooting out of the ground like mushrooms, 10 years means A LOT. What is the secret of this success? What helps your company to prosper?
I think our products and team both are excellent, we do everything we can to make our mueslis very special and stand out! Furthermore, our timing was quite good, I think. And of course we've been very lucky as well!
You have co-founded Mymuesli together with Hubertus Bessau and Philipp Kraiss. How do you divide responsibilities between each other? How many employees do you have now?
Currently our team consists of more than 800 people. The three of us are still Co-CEOs. Hubertus is responsible for Marketing and IT, Philipp's in charge of Finance, Operations and Retail while I am working with the Legal, HR, and PR teams.
What do you love – and hate – about your job of an entrepreneur?
Well, cliché answer most probably: being able to make the most out of your skills, making an idea and vision come to life, to follow your passion: Those things really drive the three of us. It does have its disadvantages, it's tough at times, but it's worth it.
You have delivered an awesome presentation about Mymuesli at the K5 conference and the people just went crazy about the story of your brand. Thinking about our non-German speaking readers, could you tell us a bit more about this? From your company’s point of view, what was in that presentation that triggered so much enthusiasm?
Wow, thanks for the nice feedback! I am glad it resonated with many people. I tried to be very honest about everything, that being an entrepreneur is about dreams, a vision, not just about KPIs and Exits. If you forget that, you're just as stuck as some corporate people who hate their job and the Startup world tends to look down on.
Mymuesli offers over 80 different ingredients for the customers to choose from and mix. How do you decide to introduce new ingredients? Are there any particularly popular ones? Do you see any trends in mixtures ordered?
Our products team lead by Stephan Schwarz, Head of Brand, is doing a great job of coming up with their own ideas while incorporating trends and customer feedback into them. I guess that and much love for the product… that's our secret sauce recipe :)
Have you ever had any specifically crazy or awkward order? Or perhaps you have come up with your own unusual recipes?
Hmmm ... Some people have proposed through Love mueslis and corresponding mymuesli greeting cards, “Hope you like muesli, will you marry me?”. I love that!
Mymuesli sells both online and offline – you have a number of stores in the DACH region. Did you start online – and went offline to back up your sales? The big number of stores serves as the best proof of the speed of your development!
Mymuesli is also available in the Netherlands and Sweden – both online and offline. How is the company doing on the non-German speaking markets? Are there any different food preferences or local peculiarities that you had to adjust to?
Yes, we started online in 2007, added the first store in 2009; at first it was more of an experiment than a strategic decision, but as we saw the potential of mymuesli stores we chose to open new ones.
Internationalization is always tricky for Startups, but we're quite happy in the Netherlands, we've been around for some time now. In Sweden, especially online the concept is catching on as planned, but there's still lots of work to do!
Do you plan any further expansion into other European markets?
At some point that would make sense, yes. But right now we're focusing on existing markets and Xmas which is just around the corner!
Mymuesli is just one of the awesome examples of the online world becoming the promised land for all food lovers. We can easily order and explore food that we just didn’t have in our nearby shops or supermarkets. Isn’t it so that eCommerce has rediscovered selling food?
Yes, I would agree. The market is huge, and it's so much more fun than selling algorithms for example. Thus, I can heavily recommend the food industry if you're unhappy with your current job. There's still great potential for new businesses.
Do you have any competiton? Nowadays, especially in the domain of food, companies imitate each other. Do you face the same problems? What do you do to stay as unique and crunchy as on day one of your business?
We really don't look to left or right too much. Not because we're arrogant or anything. But we have our own vision and strategies that are mainly impacted by intrinsic goals. And: The market is really big, there's room for everyone, I hope.