The Business Of Being Trustworthy
When this post appeared in my LinkedIn feed, I instantly decided that I had to meet Jukka Peltola and interview him! A couple of weeks later, I am absolutely delighted to share with you Jukka’s brilliant conversation. Enjoy it — it is as intense as a piece of true dark chocolate.
Goodio, the vegan craft chocolate company you founded in 2015, started with the question “What if there was a food brand you could trust?”. Why do we, as consumers, so often have the feeling that business and trust exclude each other by definition? How to reconcile those terms and create businesses where trust is at the core?
The origins of Goodio go back to 2010 when I was in a grocery store and I started looking at the packages and ingredients of the food I was buying. I realised that I could not trust any of the producers because they were not doing their best for the planet and mankind. I thought somebody should do something about it and I left the shop without buying anything, feeling frustrated. Then I paused — getting mad at it would not help. I could always blame others or I could channel that energy and do something good myself. That is how it started: I decided that I would do my best. I didn’t have any actual know-how, but I have always had this mental power that no matter what happens, I will do my best and, hopefully, by doing so I will inspire others to do the same and more trustworthy companies will be created.
Before 2010, I wasn’t really conscious of quality and nutrition when I was going to the groceries. It all started when I changed my diet and, as a consequence, I got rid of a brain fog. It was like an awakening. I began paying attention to things around me and asking more questions. It was also a spiritual awakening. I started taking responsibility for myself, for my own well-being and my own thoughts. I became really aware of what I wanted to do with my time and I decided that instead of being just a consumer, I wanted to be a creator. Oftentimes, people try to escape something by consuming. But I thought that since I was here and there were many things that could be improved, I would do it. I could improve not only myself but also many other things that were so important that it would make me happy to invest my energy in them. So it was kind of easy to become an entrepreneur. Of course, there was a fear in the beginning but then I confronted it and I thought, ok — you know, we are in Finland and we are so lucky — it is our responsibility to do something for the greater good. You will survive anyways if your company doesn’t fly. And then you can start a new one, a better one, based on what you have learned from your past mistakes. So I thought it was a path I could take. And also, there was no company in sight that I wanted to work for at that time. I was in the gaming industry and there were already so many games in the world that I thought this business didn’t really need my contribution right now. There were certainly issues in the food and health and wellbeing industry so I would start from there because that is how I support myself first, with food. Since it had been so powerful for my own transformation, maybe it would help others as well.
Chocolate is a good example. Back in the day, it was a very precious thing. As its Latin name, Theobroma Cacao, indicates, it is a food of the gods. But now it is everywhere and we take it for granted. I realised that for me, this is totally ethically wrong, because of the way it is produced, which is anything but fair. The biggest producer is West Africa where 70% of the world’s cacao is cultivated, especially in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The average salary is around 70 cents per day, which is way under the poverty line, and an estimated 2.1 million West African children are still engaged in dangerous, physically taxing cocoa harvesting. The harm done to biodiversity through deforestation is also terrible.
We eat chocolate as comfort food, something to bring us happiness and joy, but the flip side of the coin is modern slavery and the destruction of the planet and its wildlife. That is why I decided to start with chocolate. If you do it ethically, it is a beautiful product. To me, it can be like wine where you can taste the different flavours. This is another issue with the mass production of chocolate, the industry aims at having them tasting all the same whereas there are so many varieties of cacao with rich and complex flavours! But most of the time it is all about the sugar. People eat chocolate because they go after the dopamine rush generated by the sugar, they don’t even try to pay attention to the actual taste nuances. So, as a company, we wanted to raise awareness about cacao as a fruit, a plant with the beauty of its diverse flavours.
With my new company, Taimi, just as with Goodio, it is again a purpose-driven business with a big vision for the food and supplement industry. In fact, I don’t even consider us as a supplement company, this is just a vehicle for our bigger mission. The whole supplement industry is so backward in the way it operates. You buy pills in a plastic bottle, you don’t know where the ingredients come from, you don’t know how they are produced, you don’t even know if it is the right product for you.
My personal drive comes from my elder daughter Taimi. She is disabled and two years ago, when she was five years old, we took her to see a specialist. We had already spent years leaving no stone unturned trying to find answers to her condition, which remains a mystery to doctors to this day.
On this particular day, Taimi was visiting an MD. After blood samples were collected and the required tests were taken, we remained hopeful as we always do. But that hope quickly diminished when the doctor recommended we gave her a total of sixteen different supplement products. Taimi could not swallow pills which meant we could not give her the supplements she needed. After a few fruitless attempts to “hide” them in Taimi’s drinks or food, we were left feeling frustrated and powerless.
This set me on a quest to discover a better solution and a year after Taimi’s visit to the MD, I discovered encapsulated powder: tasteless, odorless, powder with an amazing bioavailability and no fillers.
I realised that with such powders, we could solve so many problems in the supplement industry! And now we are doing it.
We are starting with a generic product but within two years we will be able to create personalised blends with the right balance for you. No more guesswork, no more pills, just one powder containing exactly what you need in perfect ratio, tasteless and odourless, that you can sprinkle over your food or drink. And if you don’t need anything, you don’t have to take it. We are not trying to sell, we only want to provide exactly what you need. Our mission is to accelerate the shift from unhealthy extremes to natural balance.
If you think about nutrition as a spectrum, in the middle you have vegetables and fruits grown organically. When you start moving towards one end of the process, the food becomes increasingly processed and at the end you have junk food: a fluffy, sugary food with very poor nutritional value but very cheap prices. Soy, corn, and wheat cultures benefit from huge subsidies from the governments, especially in the USA, so farmers produce high-carb ingredients in monocultures. Fruits and vegetables are less or even not subsidised at all. The result on our food shelves is products containing high-carb, sugar and unhealthy fats that lead people to be overweight but still malnourished. Ultimately, this poor alimentation causes illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. So, paradoxically, nutrition is the number one cause of death in the Western world. And at the other end of the spectrum, you have pharmaceutical drugs to treat those symptoms, but not the root cause. That is why we want to generate this shift from unhealthy extremes to natural balance. We start with the supplements and what we want to do is to educate people, to offer them better alternatives. We want to raise awareness about the fact that this huge business is destroying our planet and our health. We have to take responsibility for our own wellbeing. We can still have our burger every now and then but maybe of better quality, maybe not every day. We can exercise a bit more, drink a bit more water instead of sodas. Small decisions make a huge difference.
Many people die because of all the medications they take. More than 80% of the population aged 57–85 use at least one prescription drug per day in the US with more than 50% of them taking more than five drugs or supplements daily. We have surrendered ourselves to the hands of companies who probably don’t always look at our wellbeing from a holistic perspective. They don’t look at the synergies of the pill cocktails they sell us. So if we don’t take responsibility for our own health, it is very likely that we will end up in this “sick business”, eating a lot of medicines every day. What we are doing at Taimi is wellbeing business. We raise awareness and bring tools so that instead of putting money in drugs, people make a conscious choice and invest in their wellbeing to thrive. Of course, it is not that black and white, but it is quite obvious from the data that this is the way to go.
We have a three step process. The first one is “Powder”. We inform about the existence of powder supplements instead of pills. The powder comes in a pocket-sized, portable carton capsule that doesn’t contain any plastic. There is an integrated measuring cup in the carton capsule that helps you get the correct dosage whenever and wherever you like: just sprinkle the powder over your favourite food or drink. We will launch with three functional blends: immunity, focus, and sleep. Later on, we will add pre-workout, post-workout, gut health, stress relief , and so on. The second step is “People”. We will start personalising the blends according to individual conditions. And the third one is “Planet”. We want to bring tools and consciousness to agriculture in order to empower farmers and build ecosystems. We want to support regenerative farming so that the society around the farms gets better food directly from the producers and we get better products for our clients. Monoculture is really harmful to the soil and the planet. Industrial agricultural practices are one of the main drivers of global warming, accounting for 14–28% of net greenhouse-gas emissions and they kill diversity just as is the case with cacao, corn and rice production. There used to be so many different varieties of corn and rice, for example, and now there are only a couple of them left.
And to go back to the topic of trust, you have to start with ethics and values. Oftentimes, the websites of big corporates boast about these values but they are mere words put together by a branding agency. They don’t correlate to the business they are actually doing. Also, when an enterprise grows bigger it is common that they begin maximising profits at the expense of values. If you want to be trusted by your audience, you have to earn it and it is hard to do it if you are not transparent.
So who can you really trust in this world of mixed agendas? I think the best radar is built inside all of us. Sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith and trust ourselves first. If we feel there is no deeper connection beyond making business, it means there is no love and, as you know, love is the answer.