THE HAGUE - A stimulating cup of coffee without the negative side effects of caffeine: entrepreneurs Crispijn de Koning and Erik Messemaker think they have the perfect alternative to coffee. "We respond to the need for a conscious lifestyle."
Three years ago drastically cutting back on coffee was one of the experiments in Crispijn de Koning's quest for a healthier life. The result: more energy, no dips and a better night's sleep. The young entrepreneur immediately smelled an opportunity. And that was not the first time: De Koning already set up companies while he was studying business administration. At the age of 24, he had successfully sold two, including specialty beer brand Westlander Bier.
It turned out to be a challenging combination. All kinds of ingredients that stimulate energy and concentration without raising the cortisol level went into the blender, the combinations were researched with the help of scientists, star chefs and baristas. Taste was just as important. “And that was actually the biggest challenge,” De Koning recalls.
The final recipe is full of vitamins, minerals and stimulating plant extracts. The drink is supplied in powder form in sachets, a new flavor in a cup will follow very soon. The ingredients are imported from South America and Asia. Messemaker focuses on product development: "At a later stage we will examine whether we can produce more locally and thus create employment."
The entrepreneurs want to quickly scale up internationally, starting with Germany and Belgium. There are also lines to Scandinavia and they hope to cross the big lake at the end of the year. "The bigger your company, the more accessible your product becomes," says De Koning. The duo has financed a hundred thousand from their own pocket, and talks are currently underway with investors.
The pandemic did not pose any obstacles for the start-up of Verum, quite the contrary. De Koning: "People started to live more consciously and attach more value to healthy food." There were other obstacles. “As an entrepreneur you are enthusiastic and optimistic. At the launch, we announced that the orders would be delivered within two weeks. That became a month and a half. Fortunately, you can solve a lot by talking to customers. ”