A New Year's Letter from Jacob

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I really appreciate it. 2018 was a big turning point for Mana. I would therefore like to take the opportunity to tell you why it was so important, so that even those unfamiliar with our history can understand. In November 2017, we made a firm decision to hire a professional management team and fill 22 new positions within the company. Our goal was to staff a total of 65 people by the end of the second quarter. At that time, it felt like we were working 24 hours a day. We knew that we were all reaching our limits and needed to make some changes. This meant optimizing pretty much everything we were doing across all departments. So, we began to hunt for solutions like our lives depended on it. In the process, we lost a lot of good people. They were great at what they did, but just couldn’t handle the pressure. Thank God that everything ended up well and that the entire company had grown and matured by the end of the year. We put our heads together, found a solution and put it into motion as best we could. At the beginning of 2018, the company settled into itself and was ready to go full steam ahead.

In the beginning, we were not as successful in hiring senior management as we wanted. But even so, we were able to stabilize the production and logistics departments. I’m not sure how many interviews we did, since that time is now a big blur; but I will say that there is often a big difference between what someone says they can do on their CV, and what they can do in real life. It almost felt like we were doing auditions for a movie. We were looking for people willing to help the company reach its goals, and most of what we found were people looking for the company to help them reach their goals. That’s when we started using more advanced screening techniques. Today, we can tell whether someone is better at opening or closing projects, and what their strong and weak points are. In theory, for every person who is good at opening projects, there should be 9 who can finish them :-) We still had work to do, but we were going in the right direction.

By summer 2018, we decided to fully enter all retail corners of the Czech and Slovak markets. All the grocery stores, supermarkets, gas stations and newsstands. But we weren’t totally sure how to adjust our production to our increased sales. We ended up investing 2.3 million euro into our supply chain so that we could buy ingredients 5 months ahead of time. This would remove any danger of supply interruption. In 6 months, we produced around a million units of Mark 4 Drink, and another million bags of Mark 5 Powder. That’s over 6 million meals – more than 3 times our production from the previous year. Because we had no other companies to compare ourselves to, we had to rescale our production with no point of reference. So, production was turned up to full blast. And generally speaking, everything went great. I want to thank František and Liběna for rising to the challenge. Great work, guys! However, we did make a bit of a mistake timing our listings of individual channels. Because of that, we were a bit delayed, which caused some cashflow problems in the third and fourth quarter. But thanks to our great suppliers and good business relationships, we were able to survive. 2018 wasn’t necessarily easy, but we made it and are ready to take on 2019.

This has all been a huge learning experience for us, and a great lesson in retail. Even though we had a bunch of experts on our team, the process wasn’t as smooth as we would have liked. However, we made a lot of great hires, and have seen a huge step-up in our R&D team. This allowed us to create three new products in record time, which we’ve just recently launched. Big thanks to Mark, Soňa and Eva for this accomplishment. This year, we took in just under 6 million euros, which is an amazing achievement, all things considered. Our target for 2019 is 16 million euros in turnover, and we have no doubts that the current team can surpass this as we expand into new markets in Great Britain, the US and other sales channels around the world. We are ready.

In the new year, we are launching a great campaign which the whole team has been working on for over three months. I hope you will enjoy it as much as us, and we can’t wait to hear what you think. Moreover, we have other things coming down the pipeline for February. Our products will be going through some big changes, and we are confident food will never be the same! Thanks for sticking with us. I know I should write more, but I’ve already gone through 12 drafts of this letter :) Stay tuned!

So to all our families, friends, fans, customers, partners, competitors and the Mana team – may your new year be full of joy, happiness and new and exciting challenges, just like ours!

— Jacob