Tino Singh, CEO of TwoDads Ltd tells us about healthy products for kids.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tino Singh: Pretty good under the circumstances. Despite the challenges due to restrictions, we have become closer.
It has been a time of reflection and living the Proustian truth: we appreciate nothing more than things that we are in danger of losing or have lost already.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded TwoDads.
Tino Singh: My business partner Sami Kuusisto and I were partners in a digital + retail ad agency working with international FMCG brands. Helping cola, dairy, and chocolate companies to market products, when we realized that there was a cognitive dissonance as we were denying our own children the same products.
We looked at kids’ food shelves in supermarkets and found that there weren’t many healthy products for kids. At the same time, we became aware of the global childhood obesity epidemic. I was shocked to realize that 1 in 3 kids in Europe is overweight or obese. As we were both fathers and wanted our kids to grow healthy, happy, and strong – we decided we should do something about it.
We founded TwoDads Ltd. and got in touch with friends who are medical doctors, we reached out to top scientists at Helsinki university’s food science department and early childhood education specialists. Also, we got food business specialists involved. They were all very excited to work together, and they all invested in the seed round. Soon we started to develop wholesome food for kids. TwoDads® products are now available in most supermarkets in Finland and also in selected supermarkets in St.Petersburg in Russia.
How does TwoDads innovate?
Tino Singh: We look at existing product categories, trends, and childhood obesity-related issues – to see if we could do a better job and can we make an impact on kids’ wellbeing – then, together with our team, we look for ways to improve.
Finally, we work together with manufacturers to bring our ideas into reality. It takes money to develop, produce and launch new products to the markets.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Tino Singh: We have been hit as COVID19 has affected kids’ hobbies and physical activities; many families with kids are struggling as parents are furloughed or have lost their jobs.
Also, diminished sales in cafés and restaurants have had an impact. We have not been able to do our in-store promotions, samplings, and our marketing activities at kids’ events and stopped.
Altogether we have seen some 25% less revenue last year and expect to see a similar trend this year.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Tino Singh: We have been bootstrapping from the beginning – meaning we have outsourced pretty much everything, so we don’t have high overhead or much staff; thus, we have not had to lay-off many people. But we have had to freeze hiring for now. On the other hand, we now see many good people available.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Tino Singh: Food business is people business. It has been more difficult to do business as we are not able to have vis-a-vis meetings.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Tino Singh: We applied but found out that we’re not eligible to receive covid19- related subsidies according to Finnish laws.
We are now looking for 1M€ funding from private investors to grow and scale up our business.
Your final thoughts?
Tino Singh: It’s a time of great upheaval but also a time of great opportunities. This is the time for the brave, who date to make bold moves.
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