For Jens Hannibal, founder of The Bear Kitchen, his day-to-day business evaporated over the course of a week.
But by having a strong purpose at its core, Jens and his co-founder Michael Tingsager were quickly able to re-position the Bear Kitchen mission.
Finding the positive
Jens Hannibal is passionate about how we eat.
But he has been no stranger to things not always going exactly to plan.
In his first business venture, it took Jens three years to develop his business offering and raise capital, only to have to shut down operations after just 8 months.
The world of entrepreneurship is filled with ambiguity and uncertainty. So, Jens and Michael were unfazed by the gravity of the situation.
Their resilience and passion for ‘eating well’ has enabled them to achieve great things. They have since established a successful meal subscription business, and are now turning their strategy to do good after the pandemic shut down their revenue stream.
On Wednesday 8th April, The Bear Kitchen successfully delivered the first set of meals to London Royal hospital staff.
Eating like a bear
In regular times, The Bear Kitchen creates ‘transformative team meals’ on a subscription basis for companies that want to take better care of their people and the planet.
It’s about much more than a plate of food.
It’s about increasing employee well-being, energy and productivity.
The brand idea is simple. Bears have the formula for eating just right. Contrary to what most people think, bears eat mostly plants. And though they have no concept of what is seasonal and local, they eat nothing else.
A bear has never heard of a factory farm and highly processed foods. It’s a near perfect analogy for a way the humans can eat, which is good for health and good for the planet.
The Bear Kitchen encourages people to eat at least an 80 percent plant-based diet. Their core menus are plant powered and ethically sourced meat or fish is available as an optional add on.
Jens says: “the business we’re really in is the business of behavioural change, the business of making a difference. Changing behaviours has to start with a deep respect for personal preferences, food cultures and traditions. Food is joy, and it should never cause division on the account of diet fads and -isms that have a tendency to polarise and lead to judgment.
If we all eat more sustainably, we’ll be healthier, and we’ll be helping the planet at the same time.”
COVID-19, and staying true to the Bear Kitchen brand
Most offices are now empty, of course, with almost everyone self-isolating and working from home. This has had a huge impact on The Bear Kitchen’s revenue.
Nobody at Airbnb, Idean, Moving Brands, etc is around to share the Bear Kitchen’s transformative team meals.
No B2B market at all.
However, instead of going into hibernation, Jens and his team made the decision to shift their business model to help as best as they can by helping to feed the NHS.
“The Bear Kitchen’s purpose is ‘to change the world by changing the way we eat’. Right now, that translates into a mission to help get food made with proper ingredients to NHS staff who are fighting to save lives.”
The point here is clear. Be true to what you stand for. Understand what you do best. For Jens, this is all about having an authentic purpose - his passion for great, local, sustainable food.
“Blueberries in April? No way.”
When your purpose really stands for something, don’t change it.
Instead, like Jens, Michael and their team, pivot your marketing strategy.
Your product, your pricing model, your promotional strategy or – like The Bear Kitchen has done – your distribution model.
Remember the 4 Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion. It’s all to play with!
Jens says: “because we are helping our staff with self-realisation, they feel like they are part of something that’s much bigger than a pay-check. By having a genuine purpose, a story, at the heart of the venture, you will have a far more resilient business. What we’re focusing on now, essentially, is to turn the story into the what we’re sharing. We are raising brand awareness, so that when we come out on the other side, we’ll be in an even stronger position than before.”
Now NHS workers and volunteers can eat like bears too
Seeing the huge pressure NHS staff are under in battling with the pandemic, and still wanting to pursue their passion of helping people to eat well, The Bear Kitchen put all their efforts into providing support for NHS staff.
“The people really bearing the brunt of this pandemic from a work perspective are the NHS workers, risking not only theirs but their families' lives every day to help others, so we want to return the favour.”
Jens immediately set up a gofundme.com page to encourage donations to cover the costs of meals and delivery direct to the hospitals. The fundraiser has raised over £3,000 of their £30,000 target after launching on the 8th April.
Jens and his team are using their existing commercial kitchen in a Bethnal Green warehouse to make healthy meals to be delivered to various London hospitals.
Help The Bear Kitchen make a difference to our NHS heroes.
£30 can make 6+ meals for NHS workers
£50 can make 10+ meals for NHS workers
£100 can make 20+ meals for NHS workers
£500 can make 100+ meals for NHS workers
£1,000 can make 200+ meals for NHS workers
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