Super Garden is a Lithuanian company that specializes in the manufacture and commercialisation of freeze-dried products; a technique initially developed by NASA. Super Garden offers more than 300 stock-keeping units spanning over 15 different categories of products: non-melting ice cream, cheeses, berries, fruits, vegetables, snacks, smoothies, milkshakes, and others, while exporting to over 20 countries. The biggest market is Great Britain, followed by the EU countries, the USA and Japan.
Like many businesses, Super Garden started from a personal insight. Laura Kaziukoniene's family has a successful business dealing in cement and ventilation equipment. Laura had been long looking for a personal business project, which, according to her, would be more "feminine" than the cement business. While giving her two children breakfast cereal, Laura noticed that the children ate the freeze-dried strawberries first. But it was not possible to buy such strawberries separately. That was the aha-moment that started Super Garden. It all skyrocketed from then on, first came Maxima, then a healthy snack advent calendar attracted interest in Malmö, up to today, when Laura is hopping planes between potential new markets and growing her business by the minute.
Laura will be sharing her top lessons in expanding one's business overseas at our upcoming B2B marketing and sales seminar in Vilnius.
What’s the role of marketing at Super Garden compared to sales?
In our case, marketing plays a supporting role, which function varies greatly depending on the type of business partner we’re talking about.
You’ve had great success at various expos. What’s your secret? How do you find the right partners?
It’s quite simple actually, because we have a very interesting product. Say for example, the freeze dried ice cream – we’re alone in this category, so naturally we stand out. Potential partners might not be interested in our ice cream specifically, but it provides us with a great ice breaker to showcase other products and solutions tailored to them.
So the secret is to have something unique that stands out and grabs attention, which later leads to talking real business.
Exactly! There are so many participants that you have to stand out somehow.
How do you plan for such events? Many companies reach out to potential partners beforehand in order to not rely on surprise visits.
The key for us is LinkedIn. The moment an expo has been planned, our export managers (currently four) start reaching out to potential partners in that market at least six months before the scheduled event, ideally a year. This way they already have some sort of idea of who we are and the invitation will feel more natural. LinkedIn is a very convenient tool for this type of networking.
Do you connect via the company profile or personal profiles?
We have both, but mainly work through personal profiles because people want to connect with people, not companies. We also keep a full database in Pipedrive in case there are changes in staff.
In recent years, you have been actively working with Japanese partners. It’s not very often that you hear of a Baltic company successfully entering Japan - a notoriously difficult market to work with. For someone who’s interested in Japan, what should they be aware of?
Working with Japan is a marathon. You need to be prepared for a very long process and gather patience for the journey. It’s very different and very difficult. The attention to detail is remarkable, as is the time it takes to get from point A to B in any given process. As Japan is a very rich market, they expect the highest quality in every product. For example, strawberry powder is a rather widespread product, but nobody offers strawberry powder without seeds. And that’s exactly what they wanted! So our production team has to pick the seeds out by hand. There are a lot of unusual and difficult requirements, which they are willing to pay for. The same could be technically purchased from China, but the Japanese prefer working with European companies.
How important is the brand for business consumers?
If we’re talking about producing ingredients then it’s not that important, but for retail chains it’s extremely important. In production we rely more on our quality, which is certified with special internationally recognised quality standard markings.
How difficult is it to attract new talent? You have around 50 people working at Super Garden and you probably need new talented people on a constant basis.
I have actually several companies in different sectors and attracting talent for Super Garden is the easiest due to the brand being innovative and interesting. It’s something they want to be a part of. Employer branding plays a much bigger role in other businesses I’m engaged in.