Crowdfunding: Having your cake ... and eating it
Crowdfunding: Having your cake ... and eating it

Crowdfunding: Having your cake … and eating it

Finnish café brand POWAU has teamed up with Nordea for a crowdfunding push that could help it grow internationally. We talk to founder Svante Spiik.

Ten years ago, Svante Spiik had a dream. It hadn’t yet crystallised. It was in truth little more than a spark. But, working as a barman in Finland, he wasn’t getting a buzz out of the job anymore.

“I was selling a product that wasn’t my product and I was making people feel worse, not better,” he says, with a shake of the head. “I wanted to be doing something that makes people feel better and that’s kind of where the concept for POWAU was born.”

I wanted to be doing something that makes people feel better

Like all the better concepts, Spiik’s vision was simple. He wanted a cafe that offered customers clean food – more specifically sugar-free cakes made with the best ingredients using natural sweeteners like mango.

A lifestyle brand

And it was with that vision that Spiik and his colleagues opened his first cafe in 2013 in the Finnish city of Turku and embarked on a long and sometimes tortuous journey that has since seen the vision evolve into a seven-strong chain covering Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. Indeed, the Turku native has used his extensive list of contacts in his hometown to expand the ‘raw’ cake concept into what Spiik labels a “lifestyle brand” incorporating yoga, crosstraining, healthy foods, juices and coffee underpinned by a “passion for nutritious food and exercise.”

Turku has effectively become a testing ground for Spiik’s future plans with Finland’s third city home to five of the POWAU outlets. Already, a template is in place to triple domestic outlets and foreign expansion is also on the agenda. Dates are tentatively pencilled in for 2021 and Spiik sees Stockholm, Berlin and Estonian capital Tallin as a natural home for the product.

But that of course requires funding. And, while POWAU followed the conventional route to investment in the early days, it was in a recent discussion with his customer relationship manager at Nordea that Spiik was properly alerted to the possibilities of a crowdfunding round.

Spiik was taken through Nordea’s partnership programme with equity crowdfunding experts Invesdor and because he was impressed by what he saw, put POWAU on the crowdfunding fast track after passing the due diligence tests.

The crowdfunding-round process itself is relatively simple. A four-week marketing track puts customer wares on public display and outlines the plan and projections for the business. With minimum and maximum funding targets on offer, investors can do their analysis as to whether an idea or plan has legs and invest accordingly.

For POWAU, which also enjoys the Nordea stamp as part of its crowdfunding round, it looks like being a success. With more than half the push still to go, it is already more than halfway to its minimum target with investors no doubt enticed by three consecutive years of +35% compound annual growth rates and a projected CAGR of +48% over the next few years. Breakeven is anticipated in the current year and revenues are also expected to triple to EUR10 million by 2021.

Fostering sustainability

But it is POWAU’s position on the right side of the environmental argument that really has investors salivating. The credentials are certainly impressive. Products are organic, there is an extensive vegan range, gluten and lactose-free are part of the offering and it’s all wrapped up in an environmentally-friendly package that would have even the most demanding sustainability advocate purring with delight.

POWAU – an amalgam of ‘power’ and ‘wow’ – has also created a customer base and brand loyalty that no doubt has played its part in persuading investors to commit to the round. Not that this was easy, explains Spiik. “Our products are more expensive and it was, in the initial stages, quite difficult to educate customers about what we were doing,” says the 37-year old. “But we’ve since become the most followed caféteria brand on social media bringing something unique and new to the market and we’ve created an environment where people can be a part of our story.”

 

We’ve since become the most followed caféteria brand on social media bringing something unique and new to the market and we’ve created an environment where people can be a part of our story

With funding already in place from Business Finland and cornerstone investor Sunborn/Saga Group, the brand looks well insulated to cope with the typical ups and downs of a young business making its way in an uncertain environment. Little wonder then that Spiik looks reflective when he harks back to his initial vision ten years ago.

“It was ultimately about creating something that tastes very good and a lifestyle choice for our customers,” he says. “We’ve come a long way.”

Next step: Svante Spiik hopes a successful crowdfunding round can help him achieve his dream. Photo: POWAU

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