Beverage Startups

Kencko – Good Things Come Easy

Kencko - Good Things Come EasyI have been working in the beverage industry for 3 years now. Talking with different brand owners made me realize how colorful and different the beverage world can be. After so many interviews, I still get a chance to talk to people who work with extraordinary brands. Today, I have the opportunity to talk to Tomás Froes, CEO and Co-founder of Kencko.

1. Each brand has a remarkable story to tell. What is Kencko’s?

The development of kencko started soon after I was diagnosed with acute gastritis. Doctors told me I would have to take pills for the rest of my life, so I decided to try changing my eating habits before giving in to a lifetime of medicine. I switched to a 90% plant-based diet. I tried finding a convenient way to carry fresh, plant-based foods with me at all times, but nothing suited my dynamic lifestyle. So, I decided to create my own solution.

I definitely wasn’t the only person out there dealing with this issue…unsuccessfully. Turns out only 1 in 10 adults reaches the recommended 5–10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day to be healthy. That’s where kencko gets its name – it literally means healthy in Japanese. Our team believes in convenient, transparent and hassle-free consumption of fruits and vegetables, which to us means – no more soft drinks full of mysteries, $5-10 cold pressed juices with a short shelf life and lack of nutritious fibres and no food waste. We want to help everyone each their 5/day of fruit and veg – that is our company focus.

Kencko - Good Things Come Easy2. Beverage development is a tough process. What kind of difficulties have you faced?

Finding the highest quality manufacturers who can manage to support us as we scale was a challenge we faced early on. We didn’t want to make compromises with our product, but we weren’t ready to build our own production line at the outset of our business. We shortlisted some of the most reliable manufacturers and put them through a rigorous process of qualification. We found the right partners in the end and we’re very lucky to be working with them.

In our case, getting access to large quantities of organic fruit was also something we were very adamant about – that is why we based our operations in Europe, where we knew we could have consistent access to high-quality produce. That wouldn’t have been the case if we had chosen a different base of operations.

3. Development of Kencko seems really interesting. Can you tell us more about the whole process?

Kencko is made sourcing only the most nutritious organic fruits and veg to start with a base of high quality produce. We dehydrate the fruit by applying a blend of quick freezing and slow heat. Then, we crush the fruit & veg into dust. And that’s what you get in a packet of kencko – just 200g of crushed fruit and veg, fibre and all. Our process allows us to retain 100% of the nutritional value of every single blueberry, apple and leaf of spinach we use. We lose nothing in the process. Cool, right?

4. There are 6 different taste of Kencko. Can you tell us more about them? Which one is your favorite?

I don’t know if I have a favorite among the 6, but I do have very specific reasons for liking each combination. Our team of nutritionists put in a lot of effort into curating the palettes of each type of kencko flavour in terms of taste, but also in terms of health benefits. Each fruit and veg mix from the selection (greens, reds, corals, blacks, yellows, purples) has specific health benefits based on its ingredients. Each kencko packet can help with things like lowering blood pressure or reducing muscle pain depending on what is inside.

Kencko - Good Things Come Easy5. I found a table on your website where Kencko is compared to cold pressed products. Is this category of beverages the closest in describing Kencko?

kencko and cold-pressed juices are offering solutions to the same problem – the hassle of peeling, washing, cutting and transporting fruits and vegetables. When considering kencko, I imagine most of our potential customers will compare us to cold-pressed juices, which have gotten very popular, but are quite pricey when buying off the shelf. We want to emphasize the differences between kencko and cold-pressed juices. Namely, that cold-pressed drinks fail to retain the nutrients in fruits and vegetables and sacrifice a lot of the nutritional value because of how they are made. kencko manages to retain 100% of the nutritional value while being cheaper and easier to transport than the bottled juices you can get at the store. Just some things to keep in mind…

6. Kencko is a perfect example of beverage innovations. What consumers are looking right now? Who is your target market?

We launched just three months ago, so we are in the process of learning a lot about the types of customers who get excited when they hear about kencko’s innovative approach to getting 5/day servings of fruits and veg. We have managed to make the most of Instagram as a channel. The types of people who find us from Instagram are fans of fitness, health and nutrition and their profiles reflect that. On a wider scale, healthy moms have been adding kencko to their kids’ lunches daily, which is a really interesting segment for us!

7. As I mentioned before, Kencko is an innovative brand. In your opinion, how will the beverage market change in the next 5 years?

Consumers are more informed and more health-conscious than ever. They essentially have encyclopedias in their pockets! Brands need to adapt to this by limiting the use of ingredients that consumers don’t recognize and understand. Brands need to use transparency, instead of secrecy, as a weapon.

Kencko - Good Things Come Easy

8. Kencko is made in the United States. Is Kencko available only in the US or is it already a global brand?

kencko supplies its organic fruits and vegetables mostly from farms where the local climate allows for purest freshness. The production process of kencko is actually based in Europe. However, we ship from the US, because the largest chunk of our customer base is located there. Our business model is direct-to-consumer online subscriptions, so we already consider ourselves global. We ship for free to the US, Canada and United Kingdom nearly everywhere else for a small fee. Also, we’re building important partnerships in Asia in order to expand there at a faster pace.

9. This is the last question which I ask in every interview. What is your advice to other beverage startups?  

I don’t feel I am at a point where I can give anyone advice yet, but I would suggest starting with a problem you’re looking to solve and, from there, work on how can you solve that problem with your product.3

For more information visit Kencko website.

About Ugne Butkute

Ugnė Butkutė is a project manager at DrinkPreneur. Ugnė is responsible for attracting contributors, maintaining quality of content and keeping readers satisfied with DrinkPreneur

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