From selling Twix bars to healthy meal shakes
Floris Wolswijk’s business endeavors started 7 years ago. Dissatisfied with the help provided to Psychology students, he started a service that helped his fellow students succeed. However, after doing an internship at a company that specialized in matching mentors and students, he decided that being an entrepreneur is his calling.
Over the past 2,5 years, he has grown Queal, his current company, to surpass a million meals served. Together with co-founder Onno Smits, he moved the organization from two guys with an idea to a company that is ‘changing the world’. The meals that Queal makes are both shakes and bars, based on oats, soy, and whey protein, fortified with some additional vitamins. For everybody that is busy, Floris wants to provide a quick and healthy meal.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My very first experience with entrepreneurship was around the time that I was 10 years old. At school you could buy Twix bars for about 1 euro per piece. But at the supermarket you could get 5 for less than 4 euros. So, the entrepreneur in me bought the larger packs at the supermarket with the purpose of reselling them at school. I don’t remember if I really sold them, or just ate them all.
Whilst studying I had my second entrepreneurial experience. When switching from Business to Psychology I was suddenly left without any summaries, example tests or other works from fellow students. With Psychostudent I set out to change that. I made summaries, example tests and showed students where to find the primary sources. I believe that this has helped hundreds of my fellow students finish their studies a little better.
My third motivation for becoming an entrepreneur came from looking at corporate life. Friends of mine started working 50+ hours, have no social life and that was just not the way I wanted to go. I also looked at the prospect of working in HR (I did my masters in Organizational Psychology) and couldn’t see a future job where I could make a significant impact. As an entrepreneur I make an impact every single day.
Can you remember what the biggest barriers to entry entrepreneurship were for you?
I’m a self-educated entrepreneur, just like all others. Education about everything entrepreneurial is what I see as the biggest barrier to entry. And the difficult thing is that there is no course on entrepreneurship you can follow. Every start-up is unique, and you will need to learn the skills on the job. I think there is no single personality type that qualifies you as an entrepreneur, you do need grit and a strong believe in your own capabilities to make it as an entrepreneur.
What does success look like to you personally?
I have two metrics for success. Internally, I’m successful when I can dictate my own life. On a day that I can work on a complex problem for my company, go for a run and have a relaxing evening with my girlfriend. On those days I’m truly happy. The second metric is being financially independent. I have no plans of ever stopping being an entrepreneur, but I would feel a sense of freedom when I know that if I stopped I would be able to pay all my financial obligations.
What is your role at Queal?
I am responsible for growing Queal. That means that next to being a co-founder I am the CEO. One some days, this means asking customers why they bought our product, other days it’s testing different variations of our website.
What does a productive day for you look like?
I plan as little meetings as possible. During the day I want to be as uninterrupted as possible. Because when I have to switch between tasks, it brings tremendous costs of starting up again. On a productive day I will work on one problem for 4 hours, walk my dog, work on something else, and maybe brainstorm with others from my team in the afternoon. Outside work I also feel very productive when I’ve read a bit during the morning and did a solid run too.
Which problem are you solving with Queal?
At Queal, we are solving the busy x healthy equation. Everyone knows that eating good food is what you need to do. At the same time, bad food is cheaper and doesn’t take that much preparation. Our shakes are made from ingredients like oats, soy and whey protein. They are blended and when you add some water you have a healthy meal in one minute. Our smaller meals, that are made into a bar, are also very portable. This way we help busy people eat good, fast food.
Where does your motivation to solve this problem come from?
I’m a ‘non-techie’ techie. What that means is that I love to follow the latest developments in AI, wearables and read TechCrunch. But at the same time I can just barely write some things in html and css. So, when a Silicon Valley techie decided to take on the challenge of deconstructing food I was intrigued. It was something I was familiar with; I did a lot of fitness back in the day. And it was related to the quantified self in which I also was interested. Because there was no European solution to the healthy x fast (and cheap) equation, I decided that it was time for me to fill that gap.
What does success look like for Queal?
We are crushing it when our customers are so happy with our products that they will tell their friends about it and we have organic growth from our customers promoting Queal to their friends. Therefore, I am constantly listening to our customers and see what they want and need. At the same time, we are thinking about innovations that may not be so obvious and might provide our customers with even more benefits than they are currently getting from our products.
Which one thing would you love to tell your younger self?
Fail fast. Give things a try, find a way to measure the outcome and quit when it doesn’t work. I’ve spent a lot of time on projects that eventually led to nothing and if I was better at evaluating that, I could have moved faster. And with quit I also mean that you can try a different strategy, just quit doing the thing that is not working.
What has been your biggest failure?
My biggest failure has been trying to please everyone. I think I didn’t take enough chances in life that have, sometimes, led to mediocre outcomes. In other words, I wish I had taken more bold stances on some points and went against the grain.
What would you highly recommend aspiring entrepreneurs to do?
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to find your own voice as soon as possible. It’s perfectly OK to build your idea, based on the idea of someone else. But you need to give it your own twist to really make it big. Others are better at doing that thing you want to copy; you are better at being yourself and using your own history, competencies and skills to make it big.
What’s growth like?
We’ve seen over 20k customers. Some of which only tried a few meals, others whose diet consists of 2 meals of Queal a day and one other meal
How big is the team?
At our HQ, we’re 5 people, responsible for Customer Service, Marketing and Management. More people work at our partners in production and fulfillment.
What are you currently struggling with?
My biggest challenge is discovering our own voice and how this resonates with our customers. You only get one chance to make a first impression and I am figuring out how we can make this the best one possible.
What’s your favorite emoji?
:P Because there is always something too happy about it in a funny way
Who is your favorite super hero?
Elon Musk. That guy is the real-life Iron Man. He is building multiple companies that will have a global impact. They might get us to Mars, get us driving electric cars and provide solar power to the world. You can’t get it any better.
Challenges expressed are in no way meant to solicit commercial acquisition.
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