From business chemistry to perfecting food chemistry

Collaboration and co-creation between companies can spark new ideas, products and ways forward. Restaurants and their chefs have been one of the most active development collaborators of packaged food and beverage entrepreneurs, testing products as well as coming up with new ideas. 

One example of product co-creation in venture-restaurant partnership can be found between Michelin-star restaurant Ora and the raw cacao chocolate-maker Goodio. The relationship between the two started out with Goodio supplying their chocolate to chef Sasu Laukkonen, who had been on the lookout for interesting Finnish made artisan chocolate. Initial good experiences encouraged the restaurant and chocolatiers to deepen their collaboration. They ended up co-creating Goodio’s Nordic Flavours series, drawing inspiration from Finnish nature. The chef of Ora played a key role in figuring out how to produce the signature crystals in the chocolate.

“Sasu Laukkonen, who has used our chocolate in his menus, was actually developing our Nordic Flavours series. He worked with us on the taste profiles and was brainstorming the flavours with us. Sasu went to the woods to get spruce and got them crystallised, among other things.”

Jan Vilppo, Goodio

Both parties benefited from the new product series - Ora got new treats to be added to their desert menu and Goodio luxurious products to help them stand out in domestic and international markets. Similar ways of working and a shared value base helped to ensure smooth collaboration. Indeed, in addition to - and sometimes despite of - financial motives, such collaborations are often sparked by mutual cultures of experimentation, belonging to the same community, the desire to help other entrepreneurs, or simply enjoying working together.

“The founders of Goodio are similar to me, spontaneous. They want to develop good things and good vibes, and in that we are similar. You usually need similar minded people to do collaborations with, that’s when the work will be fun. Not only is personal chemistry important, but also the way that the other business operates. They have such a good mentality in working, they really can rise above the bulk with their quality.”

Sasu Laukkonen, Ora

For chefs, their work is often full of experimenting with flavours, ingredients and preparation methods. While product development “as usual” is done within-team, collaborating with similar-minded others outside of the organization can help reach a creative “shared grey zone where you can freely romp about”. Such experimentation can lead to valuable outputs and learnings, despite being unable to predict at the start where these creative collaborations will lead to. As such, the entrepreneurial logic is not trying to predict the future, but rather attempting to create it through action.

“The targets of the collaborations will crystallise themselves with time in co-creation. Very rarely are there any formal assignments. More fluffing around, doing all sorts of things. And what’s produced as a result is free to use.”