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Pop-ups as the perfect start-up platform

A conversation with Banana

Meet Christian Cordius one of the two founders of a new start-up taking over Copenhagen with their food waste fighting banana ice cream business. “Banana” uses overly ripe bananas usually thrown out by supermarkets but at that same exact time perfectly sweet for making delicious ice cream.

We met Christian on a hot summer day outside their only flagship store in trendy Jægersborggade, Nørrebro. We asked him how and why Banana has been using pop-ups as a key strategic tool since day one:

”Our first sales platform was actually all based on events and pop-ups”, remembers Christian and continues, “we started at Torvehallerne where we still resides on a seasonal basis. As a start-up with limited funds, pop-ups have created a great opportunity to get things going without committing to long term contracts or risking everything on one or two big events.”

Pop-ups: the ultimate market tester

Banana started in 2017 with a new type of product - at least in the way it was conceptualized - and a big part of their start up journey has been testing how and where their audience best responded to the product:

“An advice for start-ups like us would definitely be to just get out there and do a lot of different pop-ups. That is the best way to meet your audience - your customers - eye to eye. It lets you experience how your potential customers view your product and show you where your pitfalls are."

Pop ups are basically market tests; use it to better your pitch, your branding, your marketing and in the end your product.

- Christian Cordius, Banana

Christian has spent some time outside the borders of our kingdom and he believes the Danes could learn something from the business go-getters around the globe:

“We just went for it. We are so good at over analyzing and thinking like academics in Denmark that we tend to be a little hesitant at moments when you should just get out there and test your product in real life and in different contexts. Pop-ups are great for that.”

The two founders of Banana; Christian Cordius (left) and Jacques Noerbo (right)

Following the trends, literally

Getting out there and testing different types of spots around the city also points to another benefit of the pop-up concept, Christian notes, namely the flexibility:

“Pop-ups are dynamic. Our strategy is to keep the static locations down to a minimum and then pop up where foot traffic is, the season demands it, or just where it makes sense for our brand to be at a given time. This helps to keep us relevant to our audience, always being able to literally move where trends go.”

But constantly following trends can also be demanding. It is important that the process of finding and cooperating with the pop-up hosts runs smoothly:

“We always think about the vision of the place we want to collaborate with. If the host is too old school in the way they think about property renting and long term contracts, it often gets too inflexible for us. We want to work with space owners who dare to try new concepts and new types of sales channels. That’s one reason why we are excited about Spotly as a platform for that process.”

Creating synergy between brands

Meeting your audience in unlikely places is also a benefit of the temporary model. When you are able to be present in different contexts you are able to enjoy the momentum and new content of the changing scenery:

“We got inspired by Joe and the Juice and how they got started as kind of a concept within a concept. As a brand you constantly need new stories and inspiration to keep your audience engaged. If we get a bigger space one day, we would love to include more brands in our journey as pop-up hosts ourselves. The more stories to tell, the more people to tell and hear them - it just makes sense to us."

Banana is already utilizing every vacant spot in the small Jægersborggade shop:

”We are having a co-pop-up tomorrow with the brand Qwstion that are making sustainable bags out of the material from banana-trees. We are also planning to have a small installation with their stuff in our store soon. We believe the shop-in-shop concept is the future.”

But, as Christian reminds us, the values and the stories behind the different brands have to match:

“It is not so much about the product but the value behind what you sell. If there is a synergy between the brands stories and values, chances are the audience matches too. We love that thought!”

The strategy of popping up with like-minded brands instead of competing for attention at a classic food convention becomes clear when looking at the type of pop-up events Banana has prioritized. You often find Banana at festivals or events unlikely for an ice cream shop to be - like the Copenhagen design convention Finders Keepers:

“We see a big value in combining food with design. We don’t compete with the other products present but can add to the experience of the overall story - be it beauty or sustainability as an example of something we tend to focus on. It just makes sense for people to eat a beautiful, sustainable snack while looking at well designed plates or new types of organic materials. But it also challenges our storytelling which has to be spot on. We’ve learned a lot from that.”

We are looking forward to see (and eat!) a lot more of the delicious Banana ice cream in the surprising settings and trends of tomorrow. After all, we couldn’t agree more with Christian when he concludes:

I believe it is the future for companies to be temporarily present in different spaces instead of committing to long term and expensive contracts. It is way more risk free, flexible and always keeps you relevant to your audience.

- Christian Cordius, Banana

Find out more about Christian and Banana's journey at www.bananacph.com.

We, at Spotly, are always looking for the next pop-up adventure. Don’t hesitate to give us a shout out if you have something in the works. Wherever you might be on your brand's pop-up journey - we are here to help! Reach out at hi@spotly.co.

Pop-upper
Banana CPH
Spot
Various spots
Where
Copenhagen
When
2019
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