Cecilia Tilli founded Ultuna Mejeri, one of the first vegan cheese startups to hit the Swedish market back in 2014. The company grew to be sold in 50 stores and had a devoted fan base. Still, Cecilia and her team had to take the decision to close the company and declare bankruptcy. In this episode, Cecilia shares her personal story of starting the company and gives us a look into the realities of having your startup journey end in bankruptcy.

4:00 Where did the idea come from to start Ultuna Mejeri? 

6:10 What does Ultuna Mejeri the company do?

When you launch a new product, many people will buy it the first week because they’re excited. But you need to figure out what the normal consumption is. How many people will actually buy your product every week? Every month? You can’t run a company on how many people will buy it to try it. 

7:18 How has the food startup ecosystem changed since 2014?  

9:20  What were you learnings and reflections from going through bankruptcy? 

Bankruptcy is amazing. You hand over the responsibility and don’t have to do anything. 

16:45 More details on how to properly build and scale logistics

It’s not a race to profitability. It’s more important that you do it right. 

19:10 Building a startup with family members and maintaining relationships even in tough times

21:10 How did you deal with investors? 

22:40 Lessons learned regarding shelf life.

Have patience – your startup is an experiment. 

24:40 Marketing is one thing you really succeeded with. What went well? 

We tapped into our community so we never had to pay for marketing. Our customers were actively lobbying for their stores to carry our products. 

28:00 None of you had a background in food when you started this company.  How did you manage to figure everything out? 

29:18 When did you know it was the right time to call it quits and declare bankruptcy? 

33:00 Realities of needing to take care of yourself and your health as a founder.

If you’re stressed out, you can’t be creative or smart. It’s not going to be good for you or the company. 

34:45 Do you have any regrets? 

I valued money more than my own health. We could bring in more resources, but we couldn’t replace me.

36:00 How does one plan for bankruptcy? 

38:10 What is your vision for what the food ecosystem should look like in 10-15 years? 

41:20 How to get in touch with Cecilia