Innovation That Matters

Wise Words with Catherine Nielsen

Wise Words

We caught up with Handpresso CEO, Catherine Nielsen, who shares her ambitious plans for the future of her company's product – an espresso machine made for use in the car.

When we covered Handpresso back in April of last year it proved to be an immensely popular innovation. After all, the prospect of fresh coffee while braving the morning traffic is an appealing one and this was a modern convenience that the founders recognised had value. Handpresso is a mini espresso machine exclusively for use in a car.

When we got in touch with the Handpresso team, we were saddened to hear that the founder, Henrik Jul Nielsen, had passed away. Henrik’s wife, Catherine, was determined to keep her husband’s project thriving and she now heads up the company. It has obviously been a difficult time for Henrik’s colleagues and family, but Catherine now has a whole host of plans for the future, to honour her husband’s memory.

Catherine started out her career as a translator for big businesses, and worked on major projects including the Channel Tunnel opening. She joined Handpresso as Communications Manager and soon became so engrossed that she decided to leave her translation career and dedicate herself to the startup. We got in touch with her to find out how Handpresso has been coming along under her leadership

1. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Handpresso?

Family, friends, ballet classes, reading, cycling in the forest or going to Paris.

2. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?

Passion, combined with determination.

3. What difficulties have you faced in building your business?

Launching breakthrough innovations is not an easy task. You need to convince people that the machines really work, that they are designed by genuine high-end engineers, that the espresso is as good as with a traditional expensive espresso machine and that using them saves the planet… You have to communicate a lot to make people confident about such a new brand and product.

4. What motivates you to keep going?

I had joined Henrik and his Hanpresso team in 2007 to help them with communications. I started on a part-time basis but got so engrossed with it that I ended up totally dropping my own translation activity. As of 2008, I only worked for Handpresso. Henrik and I were both very excited about the product and the company, and in late 2011 two new products were ready for launch when Henrik died. I decided to keep going for his memory, but also for us all – his family and team. The whole team decided to back me up and we’ve done a very good job.

5. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?

Last year, we signed a crucial agreement with Lavazza entailing the design of a machine for them, another for FIAT and a third one for an IVECO truck model. All of them work with LavazzaAModoMio capsules, compared to our Handpresso Auto which uses ESE pods. But the technology is the same. We are working on other partnerships with big international companies and hope to sign around two new ones per year. This is our objective for the present and future. Besides this, we are already sold in 40 countries but open up new countries regularly and would like to be represented even more, even in the countries where we are already. I’ll try to work on that communications-wise. 

6. How have you found the transition period since taking over the business?

The transition period has been hard personally, but it helped me a lot to work with such a dynamic and enthusiastic team.

7. What does the future hold for Handpresso and the team?

An exciting future!

8. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Go ahead, running a business is a challenge but it’s very, very exciting too!

You can read more about Handpresso here, or visit the Handpresso site here.