Wow - 2022, what a year! We look back on the last 12 months and it is hard to summarise all the highlights (and lowlights).
So much has happened and we are extremely grateful for all the great experiences we had with our customers and partners.
At the beginning of 2022, we were just a few people who just opened a little factory outside Hanoi. We had some machines, we had some ingredients and three recipes of our energy bars that we had tested over 12 months in 2021. It was time to put those to work and let the world try (and buy) them. Most importantly, we had a clear mission to become the leading brand of healthy food in Southeast Asia.
With that motivation and foundation, we got to work.
We expanded in Vietnam, more offline than online for now, then we launched in Singapore in June with a distribution partner. Hong Kong was next in October, then Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines. Additionally, we signed agreements with Thai and Indonesian distributors (be ready in 2023!).
We learned how to set up the distribution network and work with those partners to bring our healthy food to the right customers. Every market is different, whether it is pricing, marketing and sales channels. We found great partners who really understand our product and mission and we love seeing the network growing.
Our first product line, the Energy Bar, came in three flavours initially. After some time, we took one flavour out of the market due to quality concerns. Then we launched two more flavours to have a good variety to meet different taste buds.
We learned that the Energy Bar needs more brothers and sisters in the Lecka product portfolio. So, we spend 7 months working on our Protein Bar that we finally launched in November. It was a very tough journey to optimise for nutritional values (less sugar, more protein) while keeping it tasty. Also, we are about to launch another product line that will compliment the Energy Bar and Protein Bar well.
Lecka was born out of the trail running community in Vietnam. That market is key for our Energy Bar line and we are super happy to power those runners. In order to grow however, we had to expand to more communities. Step by step, we reached out to new communities where we feel our product fits, e.g. triathlon, road running, football, hiking. With the Protein Bar, we are going a step further and will be active in the fitness and gym community.
We learned that every community has very different nutrition needs and we need to adjust our products to meet the different requirements.
This growth can't be handled by a few people only. We had to grow the team and bring more people in #teamlecka onboard. We added more staff in the production, marketing, sales and accounting. We are not a big team, but highly motivated and fast moving!
We learned that face to face meetings really help to keep things going. Some of our staff is dispersed all over Vietnam and we organised some meetups to build a stronger culture. The average age of our company is below 30, 70% female and 100% Vietnamese apart from me, Markus the founder. We are proud to be the rookies in this industry who try to make things different.
A big thanks to #teamlecka who made so many things possible this year. You ladies and guys are amazing!
Does that growth mean we had to adjust our mission? Are we coming closer to our mission?
We like to believe that all those learnings helped us to MANIFEST our mission.
We still believe that healthy food is more important than before. There is so much bad food available in Southeast Asia, full of artificial ingredients and refined sugar. Why not being natural? We are here to offer healthier options that also taste very good!
Also, the plastic pollution hasn't gotten any better. Single use packaging remains a massive problem, especially in urban areas. We are here to change that with our innovative approach to packaging. Compostable and recycable packaging are the best options available at the moment and we are pioneering in both.
We believe we are on the right track. It is getting clearer day by day. Lecka was more of a project in January 2022, now it is a fully operating business that is growing up. The mission was more an idea, now it is being carried to many countries via our products and stories.
Thanks to everyone who helped to carry our products and stories to many people!
Markus, founder Lecka