We talked to Gudmundur Páll Líndal of Lava Cheese about the snack, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gudmundur Páll Líndal: We’re doing quite well! We have the good fortune of living in a country with low infection rates and mostly sensible management of the outbreak. We are starting to miss meeting our extended family, though, and there is quite a backlog of parties piling up to be celebrated once this is all over. We’re looking forward to that!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Lava Cheese.
Gudmundur Páll Líndal: I come from a family of lawyers on my father’s side, so naturally, I gravitated towards studying law. After finishing law school, I found myself not very satisfied and uninterested in my job. I did not want that life for myself or for my children, so I stopped doing that and set out to become an entrepreneur, which had always been my dream. It was a long and hard journey and still is, although it makes life infinitely better to actually see the fruits of your labor.
While having some grilled cheese sandwiches, my friend and I wondered why the crispy cheese on the edge of the sandwich isn’t available as a separate snack! So we made it! Now we’re selling our snack in the Nordics, and you can also order it online here
How does Lava Cheese innovate?
Gudmundur Páll Líndal: We try to have fun with it. I don’t think an environment with a clear set of boundaries invokes the creativity you need, so we have these sessions where we just drink beer and experiment with some strange ideas. There’s no shame in having an idea that doesn’t work – it’s better than having no ideas. As for innovation in our production processes, which tend to get a little bit more technical than a beer can solve, then we have the mindset that no alteration, however small it may be, is too small if it makes us more effective, the quality better or both. That’s because there are often many small different alterations you can make to processes, and when you add them together over time, you’re suddenly way ahead.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Gudmundur Páll Líndal: Iceland is a country of just 350,000 people and had almost 3,000,000 tourists per year at its peak. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that removing these 3,000,000 potential customers from the streets puts a huge dent in our business. However, this has been a great learning opportunity for us, and we look forward to starting getting on the offensive again soon.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Gudmundur Páll Líndal: I had to make one of the most difficult choices I have ever made, although I won’t go into detail about what that decision was. The lessons learned are many, and some may be too specific to list up. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by people who are way smarter than I am, making decision-making easier when I run into problems that I’m not familiar with.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Gudmundur Páll Líndal: I don’t exactly know. I’ve never been an overly anxious or stressed person, although I used to get some bouts of them like any normal person. However, I’ve become dramatically less anxious as I get older (and I’m not particularly old – 34). I think that for a normal person such as myself, anxiety is often a way for your subconscious mind to let you know that something is wrong. Only by dealing with that, whether it’s a tough conversation, a hard decision, or a boring task, will that feeling go away. Maybe experience teaches people to appreciate the pleasure that comes with getting such things done and over with.
As for stress – that’s an easy one. We work for 8 hours per day, not more. If we’re consistently working more than that per day, we’re doing something wrong and need to re-examine how we’re doing things. We don’t take work home, and we turn off email notifications when we’re there. It’s way more productive in the long run.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gudmundur Páll Líndal: There are some competitors, and since this is a brutal game, I won’t give them the ad space here! Haha! We plan on staying in the game by constantly innovating, introducing new flavors and products, and most importantly, having fun while doing it!
Your final thoughts?
Gudmundur Páll Líndal: This is completely unrelated to Lava Cheese. I often wonder how old, seemingly simple ideas, such as restaurants, would manifest if they were invented today using today’s technology. Would we even have waiters at all? Would we have the food cooked on-site or in a centrally located kitchen used by many restaurants? This kind of thought exercise often helps to get a new perspective on your business. Are you doing things the way you are just because they’ve always been done that way? Take a look around to see if there are alternatives that might reshape your business and put you ahead of the competition.