This is a follow up story for A Good Company. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I’m Anders Ankarlid and I run the Swedish premium lifestyle brand A Good Company. Our focus is sustainable everyday products and we make sure to never compromise between sustainability and design.
We’re a global business and ship worldwide. As opposed to most startups, we went global from the get-go instead of starting in Sweden and later expanding to neighboring countries, and then going global. That was a deliberate strategy of ours as we noticed there was a gap between products that were high on design AND sustainability.
Our flagship product is our completely circular mobile case made from the byproduct of Swedish organic linseed. The reason we’re so proud of it is that it stands out from all other cases in more ways than one:
- It’s locally designed, grown, and manufactured in Sweden! No trips around the world to transport the material from its origin to where the moulds are.
- No plastic! We made the cases out of 100% plants and thanks to this Swedish innovation we can make 982 (!) locally grown mobile cases for the same environmental footprint as 1 single average plastic case.
- Our plant-based cases are completely circular – once they have served their purpose of protecting your phone, you can either send them back to us or drop them off at one of our global circularity hubs, and then we will take them back and make new cases out of the old ones! We actually think that is pretty fantastic.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
We described ourselves as a startup up until about six months ago but as we found ourselves growing exponentially and working with major retailers in several markets + our collabs with high-end fashion brands like GANNI and an upcoming collab with a very well-known French fashion house - we landed in the fact that our startup days were behind us.
You have to have a business idea that really gets you going and will sustain you for months when there is no actual paycheck in sight. If you only have dollar signs as carrots it’ll be difficult to keep the stamina you need to get your company off the ground.
We have however kept the working model of a startup as we really believe in quick decisions and informal culture.
We’ve also found a new way of working with influencers which we are really happy about. Gone are the days of getting tricked by Russian bot farms and fake engagement. Now we have a very targeted and structured way of working with micro-influencers as a way of getting exposure and reach in communities where we have not been able to reach as effectively as before.
We’re also very selective when it comes to the influencers we work with, making sure they are all aligned with our brand.
We certainly have caught the eye of world media and we have been featured in VOGUE no less than three times, along with the Guardian, GQ, National Geographic, and many more tip-tier outlets. I think one of the reasons that they are interested in what we do is that we are an honest brand really trying to provide a ‘high-on-design-AND-sustainability’ alternative to your everyday products that are made from plastic and other harmful materials.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
One of the most important mistakes and then corrections is the fact that the color application process on our patterned circular mobile cases just wasn’t good enough. Even though we’d tried it out for many months ourselves, a part of the batch kept coming out below standard so we took the very hard decision to offer a brand new case to every single customer who had let us know that they were not happy with the long term quality of the coloring.
The important thing is that all new cases are made with our new and vastly improved printing technique ensuring the quality of the coloring.
As anyone might imagine, this does not come cheap. But in the end, we decided that we were eager to regain the trust of those customers and that this major investment was worth it. Until now we have only received the best responses possible on our initiative from our customers.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We’re very excited about our coming 5 years as we spent the first two years as a company establishing our brand from scratch. Now we are partnering with major fashion houses across Europe and our products can be found in major retailers in Germany, Sweden, the UK, Australia, and more. The coming years are a great carrot to use all of this great trust we’ve built among our customers and community to take it to the next level.
We are launching in Australia and New Zealand this year and wherever we launch, we make sure to set up a local distribution center so that we don’t have to ship our products over half the globe by plane but rather ship in bulk by container ship, with the local last-mile distribution.
We literally just launched our fantastic bamboo posters for which we built our own printing shop in Estonia, so the coming year(s) will certainly include developing this product segment into the market leader in sustainable art – there just isn’t anything like it out there!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Yes I have! A friend of A Good Company, Simon Anholt, wrote a book called The Good Country Equation about how we as a planet can repair the world in one generation looking at the performance on the ‘Good index’ of each country. It’s well worth a read!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I think one of the most important things (which you MAY) have heard before, is not to have a future exit or the bottom line be your main driver. You have to have a business idea that really gets you going and will sustain you for months when there is no actual paycheck in sight. If you only have dollar signs as carrots it’ll be difficult to keep the stamina you need to get your company off the ground.
That will only get you so far. You will need to be able to inspire people around you and have your enthusiasm rub off on them. If that driver is just cash, then this will be eons harder than if there is something else (like a sustainable business and better planet) behind your efforts.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re always looking for dedicated good people, come at us with an application!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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