Nadine Hellmann: I WANTED TO BUILD A BRAND AND PROVIDE SOLUTIONS
I wanted to build a brand and provide solutions
By Lea Steuri
Her mission is to offer a product that combines nutrition and convenience. Nadine Hellmann is the founder and CEO of Little Tummy, a company producing nutritious baby food and co-founder of the smoothie subscription service IAWE. After having studied at Zeppelin University (Friedrichshafen, Germany), Tongji University (Shanghai, China) and Imperial College (London, UK), she set out to broaden her knowledge in marketing, branding and PR at two of Germany’s most renowned publishing houses. Nadine came to found Little Tummy in 2017 after realising the baby food offered on the shelves was heavily heat-treated and older than her Godson Hector. Little Tummy’s product puts nutrition and convenience first by making sure it can be delivered right to the front door and by only putting heathy stuff in there. Nadine managed to make Little Tummy an honest and authentic brand so parents can focus on what’s important in their life – their children.
You have founded Little Tummy and co-founded IAWE. What has been your motivation in starting these businesses?
For both businesses, I have believed in bringing honest foods to the marketplace, those that make our busy lives easier. I believe offering a convenient, yet nutritious product can support people in being healthy – which is the basis of a long and happy life. With Little Tummy, I was pretty frustrated to see my best friend and mum of my godchild struggle to find any fresh, nutritious baby foods in the supermarkets. All products have been heavily heat-pasteurised, which destroys vitamins and the authentic taste of the ingredients. Little Tummy offers parents nutritious yet convenient foods for their little ones – hopefully giving them some additional time in their busy schedules and, at the same time, making sure their children get the nutrition they need for healthy development. Some parents say it’s better than homemade! My co-founder, and Paediatrician Dr. Sophie Niedermaier-Patramani has developed all of the recipes. Using an innovative cold-pressure method allows us to lock-in essential vitamins and tastes of each ingredient.
For some people, starting a business and stepping out of their comfort zone can be difficult. Was it difficult for you to venture out? If so, how did you overcome this challenge?
Of course, it is a big decision. Starting Little Tummy straight after business school was quite a unique position to be in, but I was so passionate and believed so strongly in the business, that I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I see many people now thinking about launching their own business, creating pro and con lists. Personally, I feel this might not be the best approach. If you believe in your idea and you are ready to work hard, then you have to let go of all worries and go for it! The worst companion when starting a business is fear. I believe in the first place, founders need to be ultra driven, relentless, and brave enough to expose themselves with all strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, be prepared to embrace all ups and downs and learn from them.
What are some of the things you wish you would have known before starting your business?
For me, that’s a difficult question. You can always wish for so many things or think back and say, “If I had known this before, I would have done things differently.” In any case, I can assure you that you will learn something new every day when starting your business. This can be overwhelming, but if you look back, you will have learnt so much!
You have managed to make Little Tummy an honest and authentic brand. Which strategies did you use to do that?
First of all, we’ve decided to launch a genuinely delicious and nutritious product – no hidden nasties. We’ve always been honest and authentic in communicating with our customers and followers. Social media has given us the means to do that right from the start. If you decide social media is your primary communication channel, you should think about a content strategy. For that, you should ask yourself what your customers are interested in, what you would like to communicate about your brand and products, and lastly, how this can be linked. If you realise that there is no fit, you are probably talking to the wrong audience. For example, in the first months of launching Little Tummy, we found that parents needed to feel they could trust in our products, therefore, it was critical for us to communicate nutritional excellence of each recipe. Consequently, we created lots of expert content around the topic of weaning and babies’ nutrition and how our products follow all the current nutrition and weaning guidelines. Today, parents trust us because of that. I believe that has been essential in building the Little Tummy brand.
Do you have some tips for people on how to improve branding?
I believe you should continuously monitor that your company’s value is reflected in your offering and communication to customers. As there are so many communication and marketing channels today, make sure you choose the ones where your customers are. Always remember that your customer can help you with that, too! Invite them and ask them what they think of the way your brand communicates, what they like about it, and also what they dislike. You can reflect that back to your company’s brand values and establish if you need to improve things.