Interview With Anders Ankarlid
Describe your product or service:
“We create elegant, thoughtful, and sustainable everyday products, ensuring customers don’t need to compromise between design and sustainability.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We are completely transparent, meaning we want our customers to completely understand how our products are made and back this up with proper facts. We present this to our customers by showing the environmental footprint of everything we do. We also are completely transparent about our suppliers and partners — we ask them to provide us with hard proof about their practices.
We also never take shortcuts, this means we always take the route that makes our company and products the most responsible that they can be and with the best quality. We also ensure we work with suppliers [so that] we can influence and evaluate them on more than just the cost.
Lastly, we refuse to become corporate. We believe in well-oiled teams and work together to ensure there are no lone-wolf heroes. We also learn from our mistakes by accepting and celebrating our fast failures. We also strive to get as many certificates as we can to strengthen our cause.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“We are a privately funded company, so no private equity or venture capital was involved in any step of our process. At the start, we used our closest network of friends and family, and luckily enough we received an overwhelming amount of support.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Our team is growing the whole time, [and] we currently have 28 employees which include a mixture of people working from our office in Sweden and working remotely. Regardless of COVID, we have always supported remote working. It means we are able to work with people from all around the world — this means I don’t need to sacrifice talent because of the geographical location of my employees. We now have a team from all walks of life which allows us to have greater knowledge of our different audiences, allowing us to attract customers from specific countries. I founded A Good Company in 2019, during a time when Sweden was going through cataclysmic environmental effects. As said before, we have a really diverse team. In our office in Sweden, we have a team of 14 and have weekly meetings as a whole group every Friday to ensure we stay connected.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I got introduced to the life of an entrepreneur through my dad and grandfather. They were both entrepreneurs, so I followed in their footsteps. Since 2002, I have been an entrepreneur. The thought of joining the business school track did not appeal to me. Therefore, I decided to launch my first ecommerce venture when I finished high school. From this, I learned from my mistakes and my successes and continued this process for all my following ventures. Over time, each venture then became more successful as the time went on, and then in 2018, the idea of A Good Company started to come into play.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“In 2018, Sweden was faced with devastating environmental effects. We reached the highest temperatures in Sweden in record history, and this was followed by droughts and forest fires across all of Sweden. As you may know, Sweden is covered in forests, so this summer caused a real threat to our climate, and I knew if we carried on living like we are, it could only get dramatically worse. On a more personal note, my wife’s family has a farm which has been within their family for generations. They were faced with their cattle dying of thirst and as a result of the burnt grass, they were then also left with no food. Summer 2018 was a turning point for me. I saw little hope for the future and saw more had to be done to stop these cataclysmic environmental effects. I gained confidence to create A Good Company as I focused on an area which could reduce the impacts on the environment but was also an area which I was familiar with: ecommerce. I started to review my and my family's consumption patterns and tried to find the best ways to attack consumption levels and benefit the environment at the same time. By doing so, I felt like I had found a way where I could make a real difference.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“As soon as my startup idea started to develop, I knew what I would call my company straight away. I have had the name A Good Company in the back of my head since I was 15. So, there really were no other names which I considered. I was finally able to turn my dream company name into a real-life company.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“All our products involve A LOT of experimentation. We need to find materials that are both sustainable and functional, and in doing so, we have spent a lot of time and investment[s] for products to end up not how they were supposed to. Some extreme ideas include [...] our woodless pencil which was an on and off project for two years, yet when we finally received the pre-production product, Martin our product designer accidentally dropped it on the floor and sadly wasn’t quite the ‘unbreakable’ pencil we were hoping for. So likewise with the film packaging, this product has not quite made it to the shelves.
This is something we can’t really overcome as it is all part of what we do. Our aim is to find the perfect suppliers and material to create functional, everyday products which do not harm the environment. This of course takes time, and we do need to invest in them in order to test both the functionality and environmental impact.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“We aim to create everyday stylish products so that customers don’t need to choose between style and sustainability. Currently our current target market is Germany and Sweden; however, we ship worldwide and our target audience [are] those aged 25 to 50 and [are] mainly women.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“We believe in long-term loyal customers and relations, which we try to attain through our weekly newsletters, giving our customers deals for new products or just giving them a weekly reminder we are still here!
Performance marketing and short-term bargain hunters are not for us. Firstly, when we started with performance marketing, influencers we were working with had paid for followers and likes, which presented a lot of fraudulent engagement and followers; therefore, we didn’t receive the expected sales boost that we paid for. As for short-term bargain hunters, we don’t want to attract customers by short-term deals, as that is only supporting panic buying and encouraging mindless consumption. Instead of promoting deals like Black Friday, we promote Green November, where during this month, we have our ‘Black Friday’ deal for the whole month which allows our customers to have time to think through their purchase.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“PR was our best friend! We focused heavily on word of mouth and used Instagram and Facebook, using these platforms both organically and for ads. Also, we always had a strong focus on our customer service, they were fantastic at getting customers to review us on our website and Facebook.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Our key metrics include:
Customer Happiness Score
Staff Happiness Score
Customer Lifetime Value
Consumer reports (%)
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“I try to read things that are not correlated to work in my free time, allowing me to get a break from the busy schedule. So my favourite book in general is ‘East of Eden.’”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“Same again for podcasts, I don’t listen to podcasts for business purposes. So again, I won’t be going down the business route, but I would recommend ‘The Daily.’”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“The main thing that surprised me was that a lot of other entrepreneurs would say that money equals happiness and use money as their indicator for their success.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I [can] assure [you] that I don’t stay at the office too late, and I am able to work from home on some days so I am able to be close to home.”
How do you stay motivated?
“Seeing the success that we have reached since 2019 has been a huge motivation. It means more money to our foundation as well as knowing that we are doing everything we can to create products to the best of their quality and with the lowest environmental impact possible.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“I always allow myself to have dedicated time to exercise and to have enough sleep each night. This has been key for me.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“Our team. It’s grown since 2019, and as I said before, it's so lucky we get to work with such a diverse group of people.”
More on A Good Company
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Anders Ankarlid of A Good Company that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.
We asked Anders Ankarlid, founder of A Good Company, to share the most impactful ways to support their startup, and this is what they had to say.