Eszter Molnár is an IBS alumnus who graduated in 1997. She set up her own web based business, “Grown for you” two and a half years ago. She talked about her career path and the...
What did you do before Neked terem (Grown for you)? Our year at IBS was rather successful, I have great memories of the late professor Tom Owens. We learnt a lot from him, he taught classic marketing with a lot of case studies, and I think we were probably the first who received this type of new marketing and business knowledge at IBS in Hungary. After graduation I began working at Ogilvy & Mather agency as an account assistant, then I worked at HVG’s marketing section. I got more and more interested in internet business and I was among those who set up Vatera. The idea came from a Greek guy who raised money to launch an auction site in five countries parallel, earlier he had studied at Harvard Business School. The model already existed and his idea was to reshape it to a new context including Greece, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. I was involved in building brand awareness, Hungarian website development and marketing. From the five countries Vatera proved to be viable only in Hungary. At the beginning of the 2000s, online business was yet in its infancy in Hungary but it was a very lively period to initiate something. My ex-husband was very much involved in internet and through him I could really get up-to-date information. I worked for HVG Jobline in marketing, I learnt a lot both about website development and freshly emerging projects. In the meantime, I completed my studies in cultural anthropology, simply because I wanted to study something else, not just business. I also studied interior design, and for a while I was really into it. My first own enterprise was connected to internal design. I set up a twelve-part hobby course for those who wanted to furnish or refurbish their home or were interested in home design. Actually, I am still offering these courses, it is however more and more difficult to fit them into my schedule.
How did the idea of Neked terem occur to you?
After the birth of my second son, I thought how great it would be to get fresh vegetables and fruits directly from farmers. I began to talk to old ladies who were selling their products at the market, and set up my network. Meanwhile, a software programmer began to build a website for me. At the beginning I had some difficulties how to cooperate with farmers. The older generation was a bit suspicious, they were not familiar with computers at all, let alone online business. They think when you need fresh vegetables you walk to the market and buy them, and this is the way how it has always been and how it should be until the end of time. It was also hard to have the producers understand that we are bringing new customers and not taking away their good old customers. Little by little, I got acquainted with younger producers and then with the Élő Tisza cooperative. It is a flexible, loose network of producing, selling and quality control. Through this network we buy fruits and vegetables. We have our own network of suppliers as well. We also included more hand-made and home-made products, like dairies and meat.
Did you have some international models to build up your enterprise?
Yes, I did some research and thought that there would be reliable demand for a shortened food chain. Not everybody has the time to go to the farmers’ market and a lot of people would choose home delivery. The French agriculture community model is based on one family producer who supplies several families regularly, in other words, a few families maintain one producer family. This is the shortest way from farm to table. Another typical box system is when a company buys from different farmers and the products are distributed in a customers’ community. In Great Britain, registered customers pay in advance monthly and they receive their food boxes. In these systems the products do not have individual prices, the company regularly delivers a box of fresh products for a fixed price. This is not yet a viable option in Hungary. The Hungarian customer wants to be specific and wants to know the exact price of each item. In Hungary it is rather difficult to have regular orders. We have a lot of registered customers and they order on an ad hoc basis. We do not want to force them to order regularly as our system is rather flexible.
What is the special feature of Neked terem?
Our speciality is that we concentrate on local and hand-made products. Our target is the health-conscious customer. We also want to help local production. Our products can be traced back, our customer service receives and answers questions and we have a money back guarantee. Our customers can meet producers, we have our open days. The shortened food chain allows a more personal connection between producer and customer, this is our philosophy. We also help producers in marketing as much as we can.
Who are your customers?
Typically young people with family and kids. But instead of generational and income characteristics, I would say that our customers are more health-conscious than the average.
How do you see your success?
In the last two and a half years we doubled our revenues. We are developing, we deliver in Budapest and in the suburbs twice a week already, we have broadened our offers, we have organic products, cleaned vegetables, salads and spreads. I also consider it a success that we have suppliers who make their living from our business.
What are your plans?
Of course we want to develop further, but not much. We can grow as a franchise within the country, we may also extend our range of offers, with meat for example, goat cheese, wines, etc. I would like to extend the circle of our suppliers. I can imagine to double our present scale, but that is the maximum, that is my limit.