We take it from the beginning. The year is 2015 and functional beverages are starting to explode in the Swedish beverage market. It was something that the brothers Hugo Rosas and Sebastian Kvissberg noticed. At the time, Hugo Rosas had made a name for himself in social media, crossfit and entrepreneurship and had recently successfully exited his previous entrepreneurial endeavours. At the same time, his brother Sebastian Kvissberg had moved home to Sweden to establish a Finnish company in the Swedish market. The brothers wanted to do something together and it did not take long before they decided to step into the beverage industry. Given the brothers’ minimal experience with drinks and sales, it can be said that the self-insight was not really in place during the start. However, there was the dedication, enthusiasm and the idea of what they wanted to do.
– We wanted to create a functional drink with a more compact recipe without unnecessary additives that was also completely vegan and produced in the Nordic countries. We wanted to create as pure a drink as possible and a more sustainable product. Sebastian Kvissberg.
Hugo had a black belt in social media and a fairly large brand in Sweden. Sebastian had experience and knowledge of sales. When the brothers decided to kick off their idea, they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Their background in sports was the basis for their interest in the product, but they lacked both experience and external capital. The ball started to roll.
– We started tests at home and tasted the product ourselves. Because we wanted to make it as clean as possible, it meant that everything we got tasted like medicine. In the end we got a sample that we thought was spotless but in fact it also tasted like medicine, just a little milder. But by then we had become taste blind and did not feel that it tasted bad. We thought we had found the right taste and pressed the ‘start’ button. Now it was time to move. Hugo Rosas.
Convinced that the concept of the new drink would work, the brothers received the first delivery of 250,000 cans one early December morning on a loading dock in Västberga.
– There were 100 pallets of drinks. We had no idea how much 100 pallets were before that. When we saw how much it was, it was a real awakening. But then we had an invoice to pay to the supplier so it was just to start selling. Hugo Rosas
Thanks to the hype created via social media before the launch, the first delivery managed to sell out. The success felt like a fact and the brothers saw a bright future. After two months, curious consumers had bought their first can and the problem of taste blindness that had plagued the brothers turned out to result in a decrease in repurchases.Even though the product was optimized in terms of content, it did not taste good. The brothers had a drastic awakening and finally realized for themselves that the taste was bad, and that the product would just not live up to expectations. The success was quickly turned into a failure and the brothers were at a crossroad. Would they reinvest, with money that they did not really have or would they admit defeat?
– We spent a lot of time apologizing to stores for how bad our product sold, we had a severe headache every day and I even got stress-related eczema on my arms from the pressure. Even my wife told me we should just give up. Sebastian
There were some sleepless nights before the brothers decided. All the invested time, money and energy could not just be abandoned. They went back to the drawing board, fundamentally reorganized and worked out a new long-term plan with the goal of having Reitan (which is behind Pressbyrån and 7-Eleven) as the first nationwide partner. To achieve that goal, the flavours needed to be perfect, so a large part of the work went into developing the flavours before the new launch.
– We realized that if we are to have anything at all to do in this category, we must taste the best while maintaining our foundation of being locally produced, vegan and free from additives. We realized that it does not matter how fast you run if you still run the wrong way, so we backed off and started again from the beginning. Hugo Rosas
After reversing the course and getting on the right track, an intense hunt began to find the right person who could give them the chance to reach the goal of getting on Reitan. The persistence was on the verge of excessive but gave fruit, hard work in combination with good timing and luck gave them, in the spring of 2018, an entrance to Reitan and thus were available to Pressbyrån and 7-Eleven stores around the country.
– What we started with then and which we still hold today is to work with a humble approach and be very service-oriented towards the stores. We realized that it is not difficult to enter a store without being allowed to remain on the shelves. A lesson we really took to heart. Hugo Rosas
Together, the brothers form a complete role in the company. Both are needed and they fully trust each other and have each other’s backs in everything they do. Despite their differences, they are united in the drive forward and the values in how the company should be run. The brothers are humbled by the recent successes and describe that it felt like David versus Goliath when, as a small start-up, they competed for shelf space next to the established giants. Important ingredients for the success story have been to trust our gut feeling, work with passion and to dare to go your own way – even when it looks dark. The journey has just begun, and the brothers are looking forward to what the future has to offer, when it comes to the future of Clean drink, they agree on the goal.
We want Clean drink to be the people’s drink and by that we mean a drink for everyone. We have never been interested in going in and profiling ourselves towards specific areas, but we are more interested in public health. We want everyone to recognize themselves in Clean regardless of age, interests or lifestyle. We also want to ensure that we continue to make our journey in the right way – grow sustainably, think about the environment and not leave our core values behind us.