Van Santen thinks a plant-based alternative should be offered everywhere. "At the moment, 12% of supermarket consumers already choose plant-based milk. But until our innovation came onto the market, there were no plant-based alternatives available for coffee machines. Demand is expected to increase by 10% per year. We want the same for milk in coffee machines. Wouldn’t it be great if you would have the choice at the office as well?”
Alone in nature
Freedom and happiness for humans and animals is Natulatte’s mission. The idea behind Natulatte emerged a few years ago when Van Santen spent a few days immersed in nature. "No devices, pen or paper. Just water and yourself. I realized the beauty of nature and how everything that lives is connected. The way in which we currently use animals for consumption is enormously exhausting for the planet." Back at the office, she noticed that the coffee area was incredibly boring and not animal-free. This planted the seed for Natulatte.
Rabo Innovation Loan
On Rabobank’s advice, Van Santen started out by crowdfunding and Rabobank later granted her an Innovation Loan. "We had a lengthy meeting about my startup, my figures and plans. That gave me a clear action plan and a good understanding of how I would set up the financing aspect. Through Rabobank, I also gained valuable business contacts." Meanwhile, the first batch of the product was produced last December and Natulatte finds its way to more and more coffee distributors, both on the company’s initiative and on the initiative of the end customer. Rabobank being one of them. “Several pilots with companies are on the agenda and Makro wants to include us in the range as from August. Even the first German customer has knocked on our door.”
Van Santen is an ambitious entrepeneur. “We want to serve the B2C market as well. That’s why we are working on Dolce Gusto cups and sachets. In addition to our sales strategy, we also pay a lot of attention to quality improvement. How can we make healthier ingredients feasible? How do we develop an even nicer foam and how can we make our package material sustainable? To meet these ambitions, we are looking for an investor.”
Her advice for startups? "Be innovative and have guts. It’s a good thing that starters challenge the established order so that new businesses emerge, bringing more dynamism and breathing new life into the economy. And also: do it together. Ask for help from coaches, experts and people who are already successful in your sector. Don’t forget your customers, either. They have been happy to help me make successful sales because it's a win-win situation."