"The more time you invest into your venture, the more it will grow" with Julia Beyer
Julia Beyer started Suntribe (www.suntribesunscreen.com) together with two friends in 2016, developing pure and natural sunscreens and other skincare products. The founder travels back and forth between Germany and Sweden and is really into boxing, running and swimming. Suntribe is her first own venture after having worked for several other start-ups, for one of which she managed a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
Sure! I grew up in Munich, Germany. I studied Business Administration in Germany and Chile, then moved to Sweden for my Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship. I was really curious to find out more about the Swedish lifestyle, spending lots of time in nature and celebrating Midsummer. And that’s where I started Suntribe together with two friends.
What inspired you to start your business?
Our inspiration was more of a shock. We read a report from our university that analyzed the ingredients in the 100 most popular sunscreens on the market. It revealed that 63% of the ingredients in the average sunscreen were officially classified as toxic for human health, the environment or both! Since we’re all into outdoor sports and use sunscreen on a continuous basis, we decided to create a safe sunscreen ourselves, with the use of our university.
Where is your business based?
We’re still based in Lund, Sweden. We travel a lot and our team members are from five different countries. I’ve just come back from Costa Rica and right now I’m in Germany visiting friends and family while also meeting our business partners here.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
We started our business as a university project. The first thing we did was to develop the formula for our first sunscreen, in the beginning in our own kitchen! Once we had a formula we were happy with we sent it out to extreme athletes around the globe for testing and found an experienced manufacturing company that could produce our sunscreens professionally.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
What has worked best for us is partnerships with our business customers. We often see that customers - both private customers and shop owners - help us spread the word about our eco-friendly sunscreens even without being asked, just because they’re so happy to have finally found a safe sunscreen. And of course a blog article or press release in the right place can work wonders!
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Of course there are many challenges, otherwise it wouldn’t be fun to overcome them! Our biggest challenge has been to deal with all the regulations related to cosmetic products and exporting them to foreign countries. We put in a lot of research and ask the right people for help to deal with that. Another challenge is to organize our team remotely, at the moment we’re working from five different countries! A clear structure and task distribution as well as sharing moments of success with the entire team helps us to keep up the team spirit and to keep everyone effective.
How do you stay focused?
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to have so many emails coming in and so many ideas that you could pursue. We always plan our week ahead and update each other what we’ll be working on during the week. In addition, I set myself three goals every day that I want to achieve no matter what. Then comes everything else.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
We’re approaching cosmetics from a new perspective, always asking ourselves: Why do we want to use this ingredient? Is it the safest option around? We’re as transparent about our ingredients, packaging and production methods as we can possibly be because there’s nothing to hide about our natural cosmetics: you won’t find any ingredients that you can’t even pronounce and we don’t use preservatives nor water to dilute our formulas.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Our most effective marketing strategy is word of mouth. We see that our customers promote our products themselves to their friends and family and that’s simply the most honest and effective way of promoting great products. Of course we encourage word of mouth by replying to all customer emails and tags and posts on Instagram and Facebook as quickly as possible.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
My best piece of advice would be to take it step-by-step. The more time you invest into your venture, the more it will grow. You won’t see it at first, but every little bit of time you put into it makes it more beautiful as a whole. Definitely takes patience and a great team to survive the long journey it takes until you see how much you have achieved, so make sure you’re up for the challenge and have the right people on your side!
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
My favourite app at the moment is Forest - it doesn’t allow you to use any other apps during a set time. Incredibly helpful to focus on getting things done.
My favourite blog is www.theminimalistbaker.com - a cooking blog where you find recipes that require 10 ingredients or less. It’s a bit like applying Suntribe’s principle of “less is more” to cooking.
My favourite book has been Life of Pi for a long time. I like it because it takes you on a journey and you can’t tell which parts are true and which parts are invented - and in the end it doesn’t even matter.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
My favourite business tools are Trello and Slack, the first for project management and the second for team communication. I couldn’t imagine working with a remote team without those two!
Who is your business role model? Why?
I’m inspired by every entrepreneur with a unique idea or self-built company, as well as by every aspiring entrepreneur who doesn’t even know yet which idea to pursue. Mingling with other entrepreneurs always reminds me of the reason why I like to run my own company: You can do whatever you want!
If I had to name only one person that inspires me, it’s Anna Nordlander from The Friendly Swede who became my mentor during the Amazon Female Founders of the Future Program. She looks right through any problem to see the solution!
What do you have planned for the next six months?
The next six months will be very exciting. We’re launching a day cream soon - another vegan product in our range! - as well as some more new products. And we’ll be introducing an innovative new eco-friendly packaging soon!
Personally, my plans for the next six months are to move back to Sweden and spend the summer working from there. In autumn I’ll be up for a new adventure, most likely a trip down to Southern Europe. I love Portugal and Spain!
How can our readers connect with you?
Sure, let’s stay in touch! This is our website: www.suntribesunscreen.com
And here’s our social media links:
And here’s my LinkedIn profile if you’d like to chat with me in person: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julia-katharina-beyer/.