Startupit The latest pet of Finnish investors: sneakers made of coffee reindeer.

Rens Original, an eco-fashion startup for young people, wants to make sneakers in a sustainable way. Now the company is aiming for million sales in the crowdfunding service.

In the United States crowdfunding service Kickstarter has launched an exceptionally interesting campaign today. In it, the Finnish startup Rens Original sells shoes made of, among other things, used coffee grounds and recycled plastic.

Rens Original (uFaktory Oy) is a Helsinki-based startup founded in 2018 by immigrants from Vietnam to Finland. Jesse Tran and Son Chu.

The duo launched their first shoes in 2019 with a crowdfunding campaign in which sneakers were sold at Kickstarter for more than half a million dollars. According to Rens, it was the fashion fundraising campaign in the fashion industry that raised the most money in Nordic history.

In the meantime, however, the company has not been consulted in Finland. Now Jesse Tran says he expects up to a million sales from the new campaign.

“We have sold a total of more than 20,000 pairs of sneakers so far.”

About the company What makes it interesting, in addition to the coffee sneakers themselves, is that the small startup has succeeded in attracting a large number of Finland ‘s best – known corporate influencers. When Rens Original raised EUR 1.25 million in financing last December, investors included Pihlajalinna’s Executive Vice President Leena Niemistö, an influencer in the gaming industry Timo Soininen, also known as former Chairman of the Board of Nokia Risto Siilasmaa and the Finnish state private equity company Tesi and the private equity investor Courage Ventures.

Its previous investors also include the CEO of Supercell Ilkka Paananen and one of Finland’s most successful startup investors Moaffak Ahmed.

Coffee sneakers has been awarded in the prestigious Red Dot design competition and the entrepreneur duo has been selected by Forbes on the list of influencers under the age of 30 among the major social entrepreneurs.

In Finland, however, sales are not yet reflected in net sales. Here, only losses arise from the wage costs and product development of about 20 employees.

“Because of the kickstarter campaign, we had to set up a subsidiary in the United States. From there, we pay for production and logistics to Asia, ”Tran says.

So the company already has investors, but with the campaign it is primarily seeking visibility for its brand among international consumers.

Its products have also been sold to consumers elsewhere, such as in the Zalando online store and Shopify.

“This is a branding and marketing campaign for the launch. We want to use it to re-approach the community that originally helped us build the company, ”Tran says.

In line with the brand, the company offsets emissions from production and logistics and declares itself carbon neutral. According to Jesse Tran, the Rens Original shoe is waterproof, and the company has applied for a patent for a ventilation system that has developed to make the shoe breathable.

Rens Originals founders Son Chu and Jesse Tran.

What so what did the company do after its previous Kickstarter campaign?

Rens Orginal was able to start production in September 2019 in China. At the same time, it gained publicity in Germany and became the company’s largest market.

“I was on the west coast of China in December 2019 when corona cases started to come in there. . Then the supply chain began to become difficult. I traveled in the midst of a pandemic in China and Vietnam and moved production to Vietnam. It was hard, even though I’m Vietnamese myself, ”Tran says.

At times, the situation was calm in both countries, but now the corona situation has deteriorated again due to the delta variant.

Tran’s previous experience has helped to find production partners. Her first own company was Factory Finder, which aimed to connect Western small fashion brands to Vietnamese clothing factories.

He founded it in 2016 with three company partners he met at the Aalto University Entrepreneurship Event. However, industry margins were low and the business model did not work.

Rens sneakers were born when the first attempt had failed. When Jesse Tran met his friend Son Chuta for a long time in the fall of 2017, they ended up discussing sneakers.

“We were considering the need for sustainably created sneakers that would suit the younger generation. Those already found on the market were not very sexy in design, ”she says.

The young men used their small savings and designed the first model of their vision. The shoes made from organic cotton became ugly to the guys, so they went back to the drawing board.

“Then we found the coffee grounds as material. It fits perfectly, because in Finland you drink the most coffee per capita. ”

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