• Sweden's news in English

Is this the most Swedish startup on the planet?

Maddy Savage · 18 Dec 2015, 10:46

Published: 18 Dec 2015 07:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Dec 2015 10:46 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Make no mistake, Pontus Rosberg and Martin Grewin, both 30, are completely obsessed with premium coffee.
Their company, Karma, brings wild beans directly from the mountainous region of Caffa in Ethiopia, believed to be the original source of coffee, to Sweden. The beans are picked, dried and washed by hand, before being slowly roasted.
"The coffee is completely organically grown and it has this non-bitter more rounded taste – it's quite sweet," explains Rosberg.
"Only the top 15 percent of coffee in the world is able to be called speciality coffee, like this (...) We could sit and talk for hours about what makes it so special."
The pair say they are hoping to tap into a growing network of "real coffee nerds" in Sweden, which is one of the world's leading coffee consuming countries, topped only by neighbouring Finland.
"More and more people are following what's called the third wave," Rosberg says.
"Just like some people have their favourite wine, now you know what kind of bean you like, or what mix or what blend. So this coffee is basically an easy way of attaching yourself to the third wave."

The coffee beans are grown in Ethiopia. Photo: Karma

The product comes at a price, costing 120 kronor for just 250g. But the twist in the business is that a chunk of the company's revenue goes directly towards helping fund charity projects by Girls Gotta Run, an organization seeking to empower girls and their communities through exercise.
Rosberg spent a month in Ethiopia speaking to more than 20 non-profit groups before deciding to back the initiative, which he says is having a major impact on both health and education in the area. School children in the town of Sodo have been given running clothes, shoes, water bottles and access to a new wooden outdoor gym (just like the ones very popular in Swedish towns and cities). Some of the girls are good enough athletes to become professionals, while others are inspired to get fit, stay in school and avoid early marriage.
"We want to promote the right connection to the buyer – the happiness that we have helped to create [in Ethiopia] and the happiness and love that we have for coffee," smiles Rosberg.
"Ethiopia could be a country in war if they don't get the right education. We are trying to work to prevent Ethiopia becoming a failed state like Syria or Afghanistan for example, because it could easily happen with the wrong leaders and the wrong people around," adds the Stockholmer, who previously spent three years in the Swedish army, including postings as a squad leader in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

Some of the girls using the gym, a project run by Karma and Girls Gotta Run. Photo: Karma

Professional athletes are likely to emerge from the project. Photo: Karma

Meanwhile, Grewin says he hopes to use his background in digital communications to create innovative, impactful marketing campaigns, rather than "wasting money" on expensive public relations strategies.
A former trainee at Redbull, he says he was inspired by how the drinks company developed a strong brand image through promoting creativity linked to the extreme sports world, building an support base through YouTube videos and other online platforms.
"For us, the coffee is the central drink, but we promote innovation and creativity through more social work," he explains.
Two years since the duo first came up with the idea, Karma is starting to sell well online and in several Stockholm coffee shops and the pair are planning to take home a salary for the first time in 2016. But they insist that money is not their main motivation for the project.
"I'm not popping champagne at the clubs and I don't drive a lamborghini. I just want to listen to music, have a beer and pay my rent," says Grewin.
"Our lifestyle isn't that expensive. But because we want to focus on this 100 percent then we must get some money for our jobs," he adds.
The pair are currently seeking advice and mentorship from within Stockholm's startup scene, having already recieved strong support from Tictail, a free Swedish e-commerce platform that has recently been promoting physical pop-up stores.
But they are yet to receive any outside investment for their project and are on the hunt for a coffee company to partner with, as the business expands.
Story continues below…

Pontus Rosberg (right) and Martin Grewin (left) on a visit to Ethiopia. Photo: Karma
"I suppose you could describe it as quite Swedish," laughs Rosberg, when quizzed about the firm's unique combination of coffee, sport, charity work and innovation.
But he argues that the business also taps into a far more serious trend in Sweden – a need to find significance in an increasingly materialistic culture.
"People are actually feeling less meaning in life (...) people don't see themselves as part of something good, or something important or something positive for the world. They are just say working in an ad agency trying to make as much money as possible all the time, and screwing competitors."
It is a message that's strongly connected to the startup's name.
"We believe in just doing a little bit every day to help someone else, and then you're gonna feel better and then maybe somebody's gonna do something nice for you the next time you're sad. We want to promote karma in Sweden," concludes Grewin.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Maddy Savage (maddy.savage@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available