In the last of the current ‘The Ethical Marketing Interviews series, I was very excited to interview Lukas Schanderl, Co-Founder of Veecoco Academy, an online vegan cooking academy with amazing, mouth-watering recipes.
Here Lukas shares their story of how they started and what they have achieved and gives TWO great marketing tips for any new ethical business starting out.
Tell Us More About Your Business
Veecoco is an online vegan cooking school, where we have entirely vegan cooking courses. We partner with chefs all over the world, including Italy, France and Thailand because we want to give courses from all of the different cuisines that are as authentic as possible, which you can only achieve this with somebody who is local in that community.
How Did You Come Up With The Idea?
My brother and I became vegan about 2 and a half years ago and about 6 months into the switch we decided to create a YouTube channel with fitness recipes as it was something we noticed wasn’t really there. We just wanted to create something on the side as we were both working full time in sales and on the weekend we were filming recipes and editing them. Then 6 months into doing this we wanted to learn more so searched on Google for vegan online cooking courses and there was only one course that we found that was very pricey. We decided to split the cost and take the course but it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. After 1-2 weeks into the course we decided that we wanted to create our own online vegan cooking courses. So we put a plan together in May 2017 with a timeframe to put enough money aside and quit our jobs by December 2017. The YouTube channel gave us the experience of filming etc but it wasn’t great in the beginning. Now 2.5 years into the filming it gets better every time.
We wanted to start in Asia so planned 5 months starting in Thailand, then onto Vietnam, Korea, Japan and Indonesia and partnered with chefs in those areas. We then continued filming in Europe, visiting Italy, UK and more recently Germany and are now planning the schedule for next year (2020).
Why Was It Important To You That The Academy Was Purely Vegan Based?
Basically, it was because my brother and I are vegan, and we didn’t want to have anything to do with cooking or promoting meat. I wanted to be totally vegan as I believe it’s the best regime out there. Our goal is not only to be the biggest vegan online cooking school but the biggest online cooking school in general. It was important for us to make it all vegan because it’s the healthiest for people, the best for the environment and in my opinion the tastiest.
What Kind of Marketing Have You Tried?
We’ve had a go at everything. Facebook Marketing, Instagram Marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing and reaching out to partnerships. As our main target group is women who are 40+, it was mainly Facebook as that is where they hang out. We struggled a little with Instagram as we don’t have a physical product, it’s more like an idea or concept. We tried an exhibit a few months ago and we were the only stand where is was more like a concept as we didn’t have any physical products to show. That’s why some marketing channels are not the best for us. Putting in order of priority I would say Facebook, email and then partnerships. We have also built our own Facebook group as you get a much better reach to your audience than with the normal Facebook organic reach. Nearly everyone sees your posts.
What Has Been Your Biggest Marketing Obstacle?
I think it has been that we don’t have a physical product and in the beginning no one knows the brand and can’t really feel a product so it can be difficult. The first year can be pretty tough so we concentrated on building the brand and did things like this interview and getting on podcasts, getting into newspapers. People need to see and hear your name many times before they trust you. As a new company out there and they want $25 or $200 for an online course, people can be a little bit wary. So, our biggest obstacle was and still is building our personal brand online.
What Has Been Your Biggest Success?
Probably the amount of growth in our business since the website went live. We already have 10 different courses and hope to have 22 courses live soon. We really love the feedback from the students. One student actually showed us around the biggest Indian temple in North London when we were over there filming, so it’s great to get the personal connections with the students and they are happy.
What ONE Marketing Tip Would You Give To A New Eco Start-Up?
I actually have two. First of all, find out who your audience is and see what platform they are using to help you grow. The second one would be to focus on partnerships. We reached out to vegan magazines and vegan online shops and we offered them their customers a free month access to the academy. Look for businesses around you that you can partner with.
If you would like to find out more about the amazing cooking courses available at Veecoco visit their website at https://www.veecoco.com/ and get a 14-day free trial!
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This is Suzii, signing out for now. Have a great day everyone!