“Read Ingredients Lists Instead Of Nutritional Tables, Know What Ingredients You Are Actually Putting In Your Body”

A Conversation With Michael Kuech and Kristel de Groot, the Founders of YourSuper

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Kuech and Kristel de Groot, the founders of Your Super. Your Super is the organic superfood and vegan protein line they founded when Michael was diagnosed with cancer at age 24. Kristel mixed up a variety of superfood powders, and taught him how important it was to fuel your body with a whole food diet while rebuilding your immune system.
Michael Kuech grew up in Aachen, Germany, the youngest of four. Kristel de Groot was the oldest of five in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. They met on a tennis court in Georgia. Like many athletes, Michael’s diet consisted primarily of animal protein, and heavy carbo-loading. He was diagnosed with cancer at age 24. “During the time, I wanted to stay positive and inspire him, which was not always easy.” Kristel recalls, “I didn’t want to tell him, ‘Oh you have to do this’ but, ‘Hey, I eat this and I feel better. Just try it out.”
Kristel’s mother, an orthomolecular nutritionist, overcame cancer ten years prior; she, herself, had healed eczema and allergy symptoms through diet. Under the guidance of her mother and aunt (also a nutritionist!), Kristel blended up bags, bottles and ziplocks of immunity-boosting Superfoods: wheatgrass, barley grass, lucuma, Spirulina, you name it. Her kitchen was chaotic, but her conviction was clear. Michael felt energized and alert, while simultaneously rebuilding his immunity incredibly quickly. He questioned the so-called “standard” athletic diet and how it affected him. “Why don’t more people know about these Superfoods?” A Google search revealed these potent plants had been utilized for thousands of years. It’s not just about the foods we eat, but what they are, where they come from, who handles them, and how. He read research studies by the World Health Organization, The China Study, and viewed a life-changing film. Kristel reflects, “During his chemo, we watched Forks Over Knives, and I went totally vegan the next day. I thought, well my mom had cancer when I was 12, and Michael has cancer when I’m 22. It could happen to me. I should probably just do whatever I can to not get it.” Michael made a full recovery, cut animal products from his diet, and endeavored to inspire others to do the same. He joined the Superfood mixing parties in Kristel’s kitchen.
Becoming partners on the court and off, the two soon realized that their passion could also become their business. Their multiple degrees were put to use as they raised seed financing and started “Your Super” in Berlin. From there, they traveled to far-off corners of the globe to meet the farmers who grow and source their Superfood ingredients. They created a totally transparent supply chain and a one for one give back model — for every product sold, a life-saving meal bar is donated to a malnourished child in the world, via their partnership with the non-profit Action Against Hunger. Michael states matter-of-factly, “I’ve come to understand, that if we’re living in this world in this way, and have the privilege of being healthy, and to inspire others to be healthy and happy, it’s our responsibility to give back.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

We were so naive in the beginning, so there are so many stories to share. When we first started, Kristel and Michael were mixing every product by hand. As soon as we started growing, we ordered a few thousand empty boxes to fill. When the boxes were delivered, the workers were surprised to see that we were in an apartment in the middle of the city, not a factory. The truck was too large to get near our apartment so we ended up carrying all these empty boxes for a mile …. Our house was full of empty boxes for months…!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We were direct to consumer in Europe for two years and consistently getting orders from the US. We didn’t understand why customers would pay another $40 in shipping and wait two to four weeks for delivery. When we asked them, they explained that although there were an abundance of amazing health companies in the states (especially in New York and Los Angeles,) they were looking for purity. They liked that we did not use guar gum, xanthan gum, stevia, or artificial flavors. So many of our orders were coming from the US that we decided to build a satellite office. As mentioned, we have a transparent supply chain (rare!). Similar to Tom’s and Warby Parker, but dissimilar to many in our product category. We have a one for one give back model. For every Your Super product purchased, a life-saving meal bar is donated to a malnourished child through our partnership with Action Against Hunger.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

Recently, Michael and I traveled with our team to several farms, including our Wheatgrass partner in the south of Germany and our Hemp farmer near Berlin. We want to give customers full transparency — from farm to product. In doing this, we hope to reinforce a more personal connection with our consumers that many companies have lost. There is someone passionately putting work, knowledge, and love into their products, which we often tend to forget and appreciate. We are looking into doing projects on the ground to ensure fair labor practices and standards. Together with Action Against Hunger, we are further intensifying the relationship and supporting their mission to end world hunger!

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Building a positive company culture is crucial. After much trial and error, we soon discovered that this is achieved through a targeted, personal recruiting process. Nowadays, people want to work for a startup because they think it’s cool and trendy, but they don’t know what it means. Startups are chaotic, hectic, overwhelming and crazy, but also fun and rewarding. This environment is not for everybody, which makes finding people that thrive with the chaos all the more crucial.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Aside from the financial and emotional support of family and friends, the biggest help has been each other (as co-founders). We, our harshest critics, are always trying to improve each other. The advantage of starting the business together is that we can discuss important questions and don’t have to make decisions alone. We are looking to improve…. We also like to interrupt each other.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

First, by making ourselves healthier and happier; then, by making it easier on our friends and family to get nourishing Superfoods into their bodies with ease. Next, by working with farmers to ensure ethical and environmental standards. Then of course, by following in the footsteps of Tom’s, Warby Parker and This Bar Saves Lives by being a B-Corp, by maintaining a one for one give back model.

Our team really loves working with us, and us with them. It has become a family in that we’re all aligned on our mission. There are times when things get tense, of course, but the intention and mutual values remain. So, at the end of the day, we know we care for each other, the planet, and the people on it. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to grow a business that everyone is excited about!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each

1. IT’S AS MUCH WORK AS YOU THINK IT’LL BE, AND THEN SOME: If somebody would have told us how much work it is to start a company and how many things you have to think about it, then we probably would have thought twice about it, haha. The good thing is that we were (and are!) so passionate about healthy eating that we don’t care what stands in our way.
2. THE IMPORTANCE OF SAYING, “NO”: More often than not, people are trying to sell you something. The temptation to attend meetings, events and/or conferences is huge. Sometimes, it is so important to say “NO” so you can focus on your core business and customers.
3. THE IMPORTANCE OF A GREAT TEAM: No company can grow or function without a great team. You need trustworthy people, that are passionate about bringing your business to the next level. In the beginning, we thought we could manage everything by ourselves.
4. TAKE NO DECISION LIGHTLY: Every decision you make will have an impact. It’s great to ask for and get advice, but in the end, we learned to weigh that with your own gut instincts. We had to trust ourselves. For example, everybody told us not to expand in to the US, but we did anyway, and we have no regrets.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Read ingredient lists instead of nutritional tables. Know what ingredients you are actually putting in your body and say “no” to highly processed sweeteners and additives. Look up ingredients you don’t know and question why they are added.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Kristel de Groot of ‘Your Super’: “Content is king”

by Chef Vicky Colas

Michael Kuech of ‘Your Super’: “Focus time and thinking time”

by Ben Ari

Best All Natural Protein Bars. Here Are the Healthiest Choices:

by Caroline Jordan
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.