In July 2020, Crispijn de Koning (25, left), together with his partner Erik Messemaker (25, right), launched the alternative to coffee they developed: Verum. Nine months later it is in cup form in one of the largest supermarkets in the Netherlands. From now on via the webshop and from April 20 at Jumbo.
As notorious coffee drinkers, the young entrepreneurs found out that you sleep less well and experience more stress from all that caffeine. They started looking for an alternative that would not compromise the coffee experience, but would be many times better for your health. The duo started mixing all kinds of plants, herbs and vitamins and eventually came to the desired mix.
The result is a hot drink, packed in powder form in a sachet with a taste that is between coffee and cocoa. But the gentlemen wanted to make it even better. “We went in search of even more real coffee taste and we wanted it in cups,” Crispijn de Koning describes the latest development..
“We prefer to grow from our own vision than to make concessions for someone else's money. We are now really enjoying the growth ''
Crispijn de Koning, Verum
Corona crisis: from the office to people at home
Initially the plan was to introduce Verum at office locations. But then again, that was not really going to work in the corona year 2020. “As an entrepreneur you have to be flexible and see opportunities, so we quickly shifted the focus to the people at home. Until now we do this through our own webshop and the demand is only increasing. We wanted to introduce our cups at the end of last year, but we noticed that the mix did not have a consistent quality at that time. We then spent nights in our Belgian production hall and tasted and mixed until we had the perfect and, above all, constant composition. At the same time, we were looking for an alternative to aluminum, so that our cups are now also made of biodegradable material. Better to introduce a little later but perfectly, than a little earlier and not quite right.”
No interested investors with nice amounts
You would say that growing that fast requires a considerable investment. In December, the gentlemen therefore had discussions with various interested investors who had attractive amounts to offer. Yet De Koning and Messemaker did not work with any of them..
De Koning: ,, No, in the end we rejected them all. It didn't feel right for us. You always give up something of your individuality and we didn't want that. We decided to just keep doing it all by ourselves and especially in our own way. That they have made the right decision is evident from the fact that a team of six people now works for Verum and that there are currently three vacancies. “We prefer to grow from our own vision than to make concessions for someone else's money. We are now really enjoying the growth..”
From online to Jumbo supermarket and abroad
The next step for Verum is the introduction to one of the country's largest supermarket chains, Jumbo. “We convinced them that we have a wonderful product that people today really need. We start in Amsterdam, because that is where our largest target group is. Mostly people who are consciously concerned with nutrition and lifestyle. Our coffee cups fit in seamlessly with this. We see that in the sale through our own webshop which has been running like clockwork for a few months now. In addition to the sales introduction at Jumbo Amsterdam, Verum will be available online at the end of May and in the stores of Holland & Barett in both the Netherlands and Belgium in June..
The ambitions do not stop at the Dutch language area. “At the moment we are already active online in the German market, explains an ambitious De Koning,“ and we will be on the shelves in German retail within a few months. Our attention for this year will go further to the Scandinavian countries and to Austria and Switzerland. In all these countries we will first introduce Verum online and then in the stores..”
New taste must conquer the hospitality industry
The latest addition to the Verum tribe is a premium product with which Verum wants to conquer the hospitality industry in the future. According to De Koning, this Chai variant is really a luxury drink. “The combination of online sales, retail and catering is the golden triangle that I believe in, says De Koning. “You develop reputation online, you reach the consumer in retail and you build your brand through the catering industry.rk.”
Previously, De Koning had the start-up Westlander Bier, which he sold after three years. When asked when he plans to sell Verum, he answers with a laugh: “Maybe it is the other way around and we will just buy up the rest of the coffee world! So there is no lack of ambition..
Joni Hendrix had an interview with Crispijn de Koning earlier this year for the podcast series Startup Stories. Listen to this episodehere.