Dutch Ninja Takeover: Fruit Fly Ninja storms the organic pest control market
What comes to mind when you hear the word ninja? An old school Bruce Li film? A masked intruder with above average skills in martial arts? Our guess is it’s probably not an organic pest control product spearheaded in the Netherlands.
Meet Sales Desk client, Fruit Fly Ninja.
Unlike its namesake, the Fruit Fly Ninja is not dangerous. It’s a highly effective, low environmental impact, organic fruit fly trap which has quickly become a crowd favourite in the food and beverage industry across much of Europe. The company’s distinct, “must-do-a-double-take” product name and branding has garnered it some initial attention, but its ability to consistently live up to its clear but ambitious claims are building brand longevity.
The Fruit Fly Ninja team (we’ll refer to the company as FFN for the rest of the article), led by CEO and founder Ferdinand van der Neut and Chief Commercial Officer and co-founder Olav van der Willik, engaged TSD to help identify additional distribution channels to build upon the success they’ve experienced overseas.
As the FFN team is currently in Australia to meet with potential new business partners, we were able to ask Ferdinand a few questions about how FFN came to exist, lessons he’s learned as the owner of a growing business, and what his future vision for the company looks like.
Ferdinand says that the concept of the Fruit Fly Ninja product came to him after experiencing a knee injury, and feeling there wasn’t a satisfying treatment solution available on the market. While the product’s organic nature has been the subject of much praise, it was initially, an unintentional advantage of the development process. “Its ecological characteristics were never the goal, but more of a logical boundary condition. Functionality was the prime focus,” he noted.
As for the company name, Ferdinand says it was the brainchild of a close friend. He and Olav took it and ran with it. “We instantly fell in love with it, especially combined with our logo – a fruit fly dressed up as a ninja carrying a sword – it puts a smile on people’s faces.”
Keep reading for the full conversation with Ferdinand where he shares his thoughts on FFN’s future, his biggest lessons in building a new company, and how his business is helping to reshape the pest control industry.
What have been your biggest lessons in building the company? Any advice you’d give yourself in hindsight?
“Don’t trust beginners luck. Nothing is as easy as it might seem, but at the same time, nothing is as difficult as it looks. This might sound like a contradiction, but we believe it’s better just to look at the facts, not the stories surrounding them.The stories people tell themselves and others are often much more dramatic than reality itself.”
What achievements are you most proud of?
“Becoming the market leader in the Netherlands within two years is one that we’re very proud of. Another is that we bring products to the market that people really like—they continue to come back for more. We’re also really proud that our first product was not just a ‘lucky shot,’ and we’re proving that with the new products we’re introducing. Knowing that we’re adding real value gives a meaningful dimension to our daily activities.”
What’s your vision for FFN 5-10 years from now?
“Our goal is to become the market leader in pest control for households. Not only through the fruit fly traps, but within the segment as a whole. It’s not our ambition to become the only brand, what we’re trying to do is highlight every area that can be improved so that the whole industry will shift. This is a continual process, which includes looking critically at the products we’ve already launched. There’s always room for improvement, whether that be in the materials used, the production process, sustainability, efficient logistics, solving the root cause instead of just fighting the symptoms, and so on. It’s an ongoing aspect of building our business.”
How is FFN helping to change and reshape the pest control industry?
“We have the best functionality. We have a product that lives up to its claims. We believe that’s the only way to earn true credibility, because in the end, people want their problems solved. If buyers simply want to be ecological, they shouldn’t purchase any products. But if they want to be ecologically conscious in the process of solving their pest control challenges, they choose us. Eco-friendliness is a boundary condition; it’s the framework we operate in, and from that starting point we build everything from the ground up and lead the way forward by setting a compelling example over and over again. This is our ambition. It’s hard work and we’re just getting started, but it’s rewarding and fulfilling—a source of joy.”
Speaking about FFN’s immediate future, Ferdinand noted a major brand change is underway. “Since we’re launching more Ninja’s next to the Fruit Fly Ninja we will soon change our company name to Super Ninja – all Ninja’s are super so it represents us well.”
“In just two years, we have become market leader in fruit fly traps in the Netherlands,” adds company CCO, Olav van der Willik. Several large grocery store chains in the Netherlands have picked up the Fruit Fly Ninja, which has led to the company’s growing success. “They embrace our mission and the high demand, which make it a perfect business case for them” says Van der Willik. The Fruit Fly Ninja is now available throughout the Netherlands, and the company is also developing the Belgian market where the first retail chains have been ordering since 2018. The Australian market is the new focus for the “ninjas” since the seasons are reversed. When business is “cooling down” in Europe, it will just be heating up for the land down under.”
If you are working with a small team or your business lacks an internal sales resource, it can be hugely beneficial to engage an external representative or sales resource to assist you with the process. The team at The Sales Desk have several years of combined experience helping businesses create and implement sales and business strategies that drive business growth and avoid the pain of chasing ideas and plans that have not been tested or properly researched. The Sales Desk covers all aspects of the sales process, from planning to closing the sales and each step in between.