Interview with Lorenz Greiner and Benjamin Porten from "Naughty Nuts"
"As passionate food lovers, we are more than happy to establish Naughty Nuts as a new brand for nut butter.“
Nut butter that is vegan, without palm oil or added sugar and 100% natural is not possible? "Sure it is!", thought WiSo alumni Lorenz Greiner and Benjamin Porten and founded Naughty Nuts. The two self-proclaimed passionate peanut butter fans have made it their mission to revolutionise the nut butter market - and never forget a healthy dose of humour. In this WiSo alumni interview, Lorenz Greiner answers all our questions about Naughty Nuts.
Dear Lorenz, you are two founders – Ben and Lorenz – who will soon be launching their own nut butter – Naughty Nuts – in December. As described on your website, you got the idea to found your company from the "peanut butter crisis" in mid-2019. How did the two of you meet in the first place?
Ben and I have known each other for quite a while – in fact, we even met during our business studies at the University of Cologne. Besides our studies, we were both active as board members in the Entrepreneurs Club Cologne (ECC). There we realised that we could not only work together wonderfully, we also developed a strong friendship. After graduating, we both went different ways – Ben worked for several years in management consulting at BCG and completed his Master's in Maastricht, and I built up sales for a Cologne-based food start-up. Even during this time, we stayed in close contact and talked a lot.
Did you always had the idea in mind that you wanted to found something together?
To be honest, I was looking for a way to immerse myself more in the start-up scene in Cologne right from my first semester. The ECC was a great place to start! Even after our studies, Ben and I exchanged exciting start-up ideas again and again. As passionate food lovers, we are more than happy to establish Naughty Nuts, a new brand for nut butter.
Founding as a team is an enormous advantage, but at the same time, choosing the right founding partners is incredibly important. It is now common knowledge that you should complement each other's skills. In my opinion, it is just as important that you understand each other, trust each other and have the same goal in mind. There is no such thing as the perfect time, and it is equally pointless to found a company come hell or high water.
It is now common knowledge that you should complement each other's skills. In my opinion, it is just as important that you understand each other, trust each other and have the same goal in mind.
The name "Naughty Nuts" has already led to some smiles. Do you have any special anecdotes to tell in that regard?
Absolutely! We have made quite a few people smile with this name. It gets interesting when the English of the conversation partners reaches its limits... (Nauti Nats)
We live in a time when authenticity as a brand and as a person is extremely important. That's why we didn't ask ourselves "what do others think about it" when choosing our name. The name embodies the brand and us as a people: honest, cheeky and authentic! So far, we have only received positive feedback for our brand name "Naughty Nuts" and especially the brand with the cheeky characters remains in our minds!
You both did your Bachelor's degree with us at the WiSo Faculty. Are there any important insights, contents and experiences that you took away from your studies that helped you in founding "Naughty Nuts"?
Particularly in the start-up scene, the question arises again and again as to whether studying at university prepares you for founding a company at all. There is certainly more potential to better prepare students for their own start-ups. At the same time, one should not forget that a degree programme primarily teaches scientific content. You won't be able to apply any concrete content one-to-one (unless you're founding a new screw factory). Rather, you will be taught an approach and a way of thinking during your studies. No one will ever wake you up at night and ask you for the midnight formula, but being able to make logical connections quickly helps enormously!
I find that both studies, work experience and private life can prepare you extremely well. The main thing is to DO something, be enthusiastic, open-minded and eager to learn and make exciting contacts at every turn. It was through my business studies that I was able to get to know Ben in the first place and immerse myself in the Cologne start-up scene.
The main thing is to DO something, be enthusiastic, open-minded and eager to learn and make exciting contacts at every turn.
The still ongoing Corona crisis has kept us all on our toes all year long. How have you experienced the year so far – especially with regard to your upcoming presale in December? Are there any advantages or disadvantages that you have experienced so far?
I think it's a great time to start up. After all, you are not distracted by parties and long pub nights, but can fully concentrate on your start-up. The Corona crisis is extremely difficult for many: as a student, you miss out on many nice aspects of student life, the job market is complicated and slightly larger start-ups may have problems with a fundraising round. Of course, a start-up in Corona times has many risks, but also many opportunities and I prefer to focus on the advantages!
Of course, a start-up in Corona times has many risks, but also many opportunities and I prefer to focus on the advantages!
Finally, do you have three tips? What would you like to pass on to our students?
Extreme ownership is a world-class concept (and pretty much the opposite of determinism). Only when you take responsibility for something do you have the power to change it. It is easier to make excuses or blame others. However, if you try to take responsibility for everything, you not only have great influence and are a great leader, but you also live a happier life.
If you want to start up: Don't focus too much on the idea, but on the founding team and the market. An A-team with a B-idea will always beat a B-team with an A-idea! Try to find out the real problems and wishes of your core target group. Based on this, you can develop the perfect solution.
Sounds corny, but an optimist who is wrong lives better than a pessimist who is right. No one likes to exchange ideas with the nagger who belittles ideas. Mostly, the people who inspire are the ones who give space to ideas, have a passion and do everything with joy. Focus on opportunities, on advantages and take things with humour and a smile on your face!
Interview done by Lorraine Hoffmann