Dispatches from Drinkpreneur Live 2015, London

'It’s not as simple as putting liquid into a bottle and then selling it to Tesco!' Top tips for entrepreneurs

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

'It’s not as simple as putting liquid into a bottle and then selling it to Tesco!' Top tips for entrepreneurs

Related tags: Entrepreneurship

It’s an exciting time for beverage entrepreneurs, with small start-ups successfully challenging the big established brands with new ideas and innovations. Drinkpreneur Live was held in London this week to enable beverage brands to meet industry experts, advisers and mentors and help them understand the challenges - and opportunities - they face.  

Buyers from Tesco and Waitrose, successful entrepreneurs, and analysts shared their advice for beverage start-ups during the day, which was organised by Zenith International and MyDrink Beverages.

Here are some of their words of wisdom for beverage entrepreneurs.

Innovation, initiative and impact

“It’s not about can you create the product, but should you be creating this product.”

Anne Wong-Erven, senior consultant, Zenith International, on market gap analysis. Is there really an unfulfilled gap for your product? And do you understand your market, she asks. 

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Bill Anderson

“I really like it when people have ignored their mother and board of advisers and just gone with it.”

Bill Anderson, CEO and founder of California-based First Beverage Group, says he approves of people who use their intuition.  

“It’s all very well to have a great back story, but does that really engage with consumers? It does for about two minutes, but then you need a proper story behind the brand.”

Derek Johnson, founder of Family (and friends) Design, speaks about design, branding and marketing. Find a way for consumers to really take your brand to heart, he says. 

“Many start-ups initiate development without doing their homework first.”

Ieva Petkeviciute, Head of New Product Development at MyDrink Beverages, on the importance of conducting market analysis and planning before developing the product.

“No one cares you are crowd funding. Every man and his dog are crowd funding. Having a press release saying X, Y, Z is crowd-funding is not exciting. There has to be another genuine hook as to why you’re looking at doing crowd funding.”

Tell your audience about your plans and aspirations to get them excited about your project, and only then mention crowd funding, says Simon Potter, Senior Investment Associate at European equity crowdfunding site Seedrs. 

drinkpreneur round table
Simon Potter speaks during the roundtable discussion

“It’s important to be clear and upfront about benchmarks and milestones, with retailers and wholesalers. You’re both going in knowing what success looks like.” 

Mark Hopper, head of innovation and development, SHS Group, advises budding beverage entrepreneurs.

“Our customers expect us to be innovating, looking for brand new brands and trends and helping them discover them.”

Chris Whittaker, buyer for chilled juice, long life milk and active health drinks at Waitrose. Entrepreneurs are the people who define and create new categories and subcategories - and subsequently they're the people the supermarket looks to when predicting trends for the future, he adds.

“I want to deal with the owners. Because I can get a decision quickly.”

David Beardmore, category buying manager, soft drinks, Tesco.

“What we look for: the people. It sounds tripe, but we’re going to bet more on the jockey than the horse.”

Bill Anderson, CEO and founder of First Beverage Group.

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Charles Rolls

“There are always surprises, it’s just managing them.”

Successful entrepreneur Charles Rolls, co-founder of premium tonic water and mixer company Fever-Tree. Rolls built his reputation running Plymouth Gin, and then identified a market gap for a premium tonic to go with a premium gin. 

“It’s not as simple as putting liquid into a bottle and then selling it to Tesco.”

David Beardmore, category buying manager, soft drinks, Tesco, says he’s looking for brand owners who can manage complex business models. 

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