Part 1: ÖselBirch 2018 in review – The highlights
As we are leaving yet another year behind us, we want to take time to reflect, to see where we did good, where we could’ve done better and to thank the people without whom we would not be here. The year has been a total rollercoaster with so many highlights that we simply have to pick out the favorites.
To read about our learnings from 2018, read our next post!
Birch water drinks proper market entry
2018 marks the year of our proper market entry in general. We were gently touching the market already in 2017 by successfully closing our Kickstarter project and finding our first resellers in Estonia. However, still exploring the market, getting customer feedback and adjusting our recipes. At the beginning of 2018, our drinks appeared on the shelves of RIMI Supermarkets.
Estonia 100 #EV100
Estonia celebrated its 100th birthday this year and we couldn’t have been more honored to be present at the biggest event – the official Independence Day Presidential Reception. No, we weren’t participating the penguin parade, as we jokingly say in Estonian but our birch water drink THORNY (ASTEL) with sea-buckthorn flavor was the official non-alcoholic reception drink.
We were accepted into a 1-year-long mentoring program, in which we went through a full business model innovation, setting our goals, polishing our values, strategies, finding new contacts and likeminded people to exchange ideas and experiences. Throughout the whole time we were accompanied by an excellent mentor, Aet Kull, who gave her full devotion on helping ÖselBirch to succeed.
EU grant and Rebranding
Having finished our business plan, although a little too bureaucratic for a startup where every little thing can change in a heartbeat, we received an EU grant. Thanks to this we were able to go through a total rebranding. Our visuals were done anew by a talented designer Ranno Päi. We are so happy with the result! But decide for yourself!
Kickstarter trip to Saaremaa aka ÖSEL
One of our rewards in our Kickstarter campaign included a 7-day-stay in Saaremaa, Estonia. Our guests from Germany explored our beautiful island, tapped birch water with us in our grandma’s backyard, made smoothies with freshly tapped birch water and participated in a birch water soap workshop.
“We had a great week in your beautiful Estonia! We gathered new experiences from birch water tapping to fishing in the sea, explored the island and enjoyed daily hot tub and sauna.” Family Spantig
We will be welcoming a handful of guests to stay with us, to explore and experience the life on our little island in 2019 and 2020 as well. Travel dates will be in the middle of April, during the tapping season. Should you be interested, send us an email at email@example.com.
Plant a tree campaign // #ISTUTANPUU
Well, that was quite an idea we took upon ourselves. Plant a tree (#ISTUTANPUU in Estonian) was a campaign in early 2018. Per every 3 bottles sold we planted 2 new trees. The goal of the campaign was to make people more aware of the environment and the important role of trees for fresh and clean air. We are very blessed by a beautiful and clean nature in Estonia. However, clear-cutting is still largely executed. If our environment is not set as a first priority, we might soon have no Earth to live.
We planted more than 1000 different trees in the cities of Tallinn, Pärnu, Paide. Whereas the large portion of the trees went into planting a new forest in Saaremaa. Throughout the campaign we cooperated with Elina Born, Tallinn, Pärnu and Paide city councils, kindergartens, Estonian Museum of Natural History, Matogard OÜ, BDA Consulting, Enterprise Estonia and all the mentors and entrepreneurs in the mentoring program. The campaign is also nominated for The Environmental Act 2018 by the Estonian Ministry of Environment.
Forests – or the lack of it – is one of the environmental issues that we have decided to tackle. We wish to do so also in the upcoming years. In a long run we would like to found a Non-profit organization and engage other companies and entrepreneurs. If you see a way how you can help, do let us know! We are already expecting your mail!
ARTE TV visit
This is a highlight that will carry on into 2019 as well! In the late spring we received some interesting visitors. For a TV show coming up next year in ARTE, they wanted to know all about our birch water and its tradition in our family. Without spoiling the surprise for you, here’s a little peek into their visit.
World Cleanup Day x ÖselBirch
World Cleanup Day – a cooperation that we are extremely happy about! The first Cleanup Day took place on 15th September in the whole world. More than 17 million people from 158 countries participated in the cleanup activities! As you certainly have heard, trash is also a big environmental issue. Hence the recycling, upcycling, zero-waste and no plastic movements. As we stand against single-use plastic, a cooperation with World Cleanup Day came as God-given. Moreover, the organization is from Estonia. We know exactly who these people are and what the money will be used for.
DHDL or the German version of Dragon’s Den and Sharktank
Most of you got to know us from the German TV show in RTL: Die Höhle der Löwen. There we pitched our Grandma’s birch drink recipes to a panel of venture capitalists. Unfortunately we had to leave the show without an investor. But since then we have been contacted by about 60 other investors. We are so grateful for every single one, however, a selection has to be made.
Photocredit: MG RTL D / Bernd-Michael Maurer
These are just a selection of highlights from this year to which we are greatly thankful to:
- Enterprise Estonia and EU for allowing us to pursue our dreams with a financial help. Also BDA Consulting and our mentor Aet Kull, thanks to whom we learned so much this year!
- Ranno Päi & BRAND NEW Creative Agency for our amazing new design.
- Everybody who helped and participated in the Plant a tree
- AngelEngine e.V. and every business advisor who helped us along the way.
- Sony Pictures and DHDL team, who welcomed us so generously and were a great support throughout the process.