Fritz-Kola was founded in Hamburg in 2003 by 2 students who wanted to set up a Cola company even though they had no idea how to make the drink! In 2019 they sold 71 million 330ml glass bottles, second only to Coke with 74 million. They dont release their financial data but according to Forbes magazine, their sales were E7.4m in 2015.
To get their company off the ground, Mico and Lorenz googled cola recipes and ingredients. When this didn’t help they phoned hundreds of breweries across Germany and asked if any of them could help them create a cola recipe and bottle it for them. Eventually they found a small brewery in western Germany whose brew master was up for the challenge.
To make the cola taste different to Coke and Pepsi they added lemon juice, 3 times the caffine and reduced the sugar.
When they had 170 crates of Fritz-Kola they each drove a van from bar to bar to sell them directly. They offered the bar owners and managers the opportunity to return any unsold stock for a full refund.
Their logo was originally chosen to save money - it is a photo of their two faces photoshopped by a neighbour. They felt it would have been too expensive to buy the rights to a different image or get a bespoke graphic designed. To save money on printing, they chose a black and white label rather than colour.
Their name was chosen by the public - they wrote 40 choices on a list and asked people outside a shopping center which they preferred. Fritch was the most popular choice.
Initially sales grew fast via word of mouth and because of their adverts - one critcised 3 world leaders by showing photos of Putin, Trump and Recep Erdogan with the slogan “Mensch, wach auf!” (Man, wake up!).
In 2016 Lorenz left to pursue other interests and Mico now owns 2/3 of the shares with the others owned by private investors. Mirco says at the beginning no one believed in them because they were competing with such large brands.
“Today I am responsible for 280 people. I have enough adventure in my company, so I don’t have to do anything else, I love what I do.”
At Cow-Shed we think this is a great example of a startup believing in their product and their market and being themselves. Their love of the challenge helped when they needed to work 24/7 - with any startup its so important to love what you do!