Munich Startup: Who are you and what does Greenforce do?
Thomas Isermann: We’re Greenforce, a young startup from Munich. Right now, we’re revolutionizing the market for vegan meat alternatives with our products. The people behind Greenforce are Hannes-Benjamin Schmitz and me, along with an entire team of nutrition experts and food enthusiasts who are leaders in protein research. On top of that, we have some serious support in the team with Patrik Baboumian, ‘Germany’s strongest vegan.’
Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?
Thomas Isermann: We’ve made it our mission to secure protein supply for generations to come, because the next 2.3 billion people – a forecast until 2050 – cannot be sustained with protein from meat and fish. That means a plant-based diet will be one of the biggest transformations in the decades ahead. After years of development, we’ve created a product that will change the food industry: the most sustainable vegan meat in the world. Our secret is that it’s a powder based on peas that you mix yourself. When you add water and oil, it becomes equivalent to meat.
Vegan alternatives are booming
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Thomas Isermann: We’re aware of the fact that the market for vegan meat alternatives is seriously booming at the moment and we’re obviously pleased about that. It’s nice to see that so many people are ready to change their thinking for themselves and for the environment and are trying alternatives. Sharing the same mission with many of our colleagues in the market is something we see as an opportunity, because we can achieve them faster together as a result. Our products stand out due to a high degree of innovation and differ significantly from the competition in a number of aspects.
Our USP is our innovative powder form. We give our customers the opportunity to mix their vegan meat themselves and add their own finishing touches where, in contrast, our competition predominantly offers ready-made, refrigerated products packaged in plastic. With our easy-to-mix powders, our customers can prepare the exact amount of (vegan) meat they need at that moment without producing any unnecessary food waste. The products are stored in a dry place and are delivered in sustainable kraft paper packaging. This allows us to go entirely without the cost and energy-consuming cold chain that would otherwise be necessary, and the production process is transferred to the kitchens of our end consumers instead. We achieve a much better carbon footprint as a result, which means we presumably offer the most sustainable vegan meat in the world.
Our vegan meat is based on the social media ‘DIY’ trend and our community is very engaged with it. As a result, we’ve been able to continuously fine-tune our products. We make it possible for anyone to freshly prepare a vegan burger, vegan meatballs or vegan ground meat themselves. It’s incredibly fast and easy to do.
Challenging: the highly competitive market
Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges so far?
- One of the biggest challenges was optimizing the recipe for our vegan meat. We worked on the development of our raw material and on fine-tuning the taste of our products for years. After tasting more than 50 burger recipes, the results are impressive: Our powder tastes and looks like meat. But better.
- Another critical issue was marketing a product like ours online, because it is innovative and requires explanation. Vegan meat that you mix yourself isn’t something everyone immediately understands – you need to walk your customers through how it works and explain the product well. On top of that, food is generally purchased in person at the grocery store and not online. Here we managed to launch our product online with support from our community and a very small budget and now have relevant KPIs to show for it.
- Another challenge that we’re currently facing is asserting ourselves against major corporations in the highly competitive market for meat alternatives with a product that’s even more innovative and cleaner. We’re looking forward to the challenge.
Greenforce: A loyal customer base and prestigious partnerships
Munich Startup: How is business going?
Thomas Isermann: As of this year, we’re on a very promising path with Greenforce in terms of turnover. In the last few months, some things have really come together for us and it’s great to see all our work bear fruit. To give an example, we’ve been able to get reputable partners and a variety of wholesalers and food service establishments on board with our idea and were just nominated for the Green Product Award. Moreover, we’re planning to make our products available to as many people as possible this quarter. In recent months, we’ve established a loyal customer base that’s constantly growing. The feedback is overwhelming. So things couldn’t be going better for Greenforce. We’re growing rapidly and look forward to working with new team members who want to actively shape the transformation of the food industry!
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?
Thomas Isermann: Munich isn’t a classic startup city like Berlin or Hamburg. Nevertheless, the scene is still growing strongly along with the opportunities for young companies to network with each other. It’s great to be here in our hometown as a startup. And that’s despite the fact that we had to rename our most popular product for meatballs from the more regional ‘Pflanzerl’ to ‘Frikadelle’ for the general public.
“Salad belongs on a burger”
Munich Startup: Fries or salad?
Thomas Isermann: As a food startup that has burgers as one of their products, we definitely have to choose the fries! We’d be happy to have sweet potato fries – the perfect partner for all variations of our burger. For us, salad belongs on a burger!