Felix Tanzer founded JF Rabbit, a new vegetable-based drinks brand, in September 2016 with the hope of delivering the health benefits of vegetables in the most tasty, consumer-friendly way possible.
The brand’s mission is straightforward – meeting the demand among busy people who are looking for ways to increase their daily vegetable intake. To this end, JF Rabbit created a new category in the UK drinks market – “veg water”.
Business Advice sat down with Tanzer to find out more about what makes the drink such a unique proposition to consumers, and the swift success that quickly brought JF Rabbit to retailers such as Whole Foods.
Who are you and what’s your business?
I’m Felix Tanzer, the co-founder of JF Rabbit. JF Rabbit makes delicious vegetable-based drinks. In a world of fleeting health trends and confusion over what is actually healthy, we wanted to start a business that focused on something we’ve all been told is good for us since we were small; veg.
How long have you been around for?
We launched in Autumn 2016.
How do you make money?
We sell drinks to independent shops and cafes such as Whole Foods, into offices and also abroad.
What makes you different and why should people take notice?
We focus on using vegetables rather than fruit, so our drinks are naturally lower in sugar but still have fantastic flavour and health benefits.
We have a range of three waters; Cucumber, Ginger & Lime and Carrot & Orange Blossom. All are 100 per cent natural, under 10kcal and contain 100 per cent of your daily Vitamin C and Zinc. The long-term plan is to create a whole range of veg based drinks and snacks.
What was key in terms of getting started?
The turning point for us were our two earliest backers; Brand Opus, our design partners, who took an idea and transformed it into a fantastic brand, and TrueStart, retailer and consumer investment specialists. They helped craft our idea into a compelling pitch and introduced us to some hugely influential investors.
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
It’s early days, but just getting the business off the ground and building our small team has been a huge achievement. As soon you’re up and running and surrounded by good people, anything is possible and there is no steeper learning curve than starting your own venture.
Whether it’s learning about sales, social media, or tax and contract law, it arms you with a great set of skills to make this and any future businesses a success.
What setbacks have you had along the way?
We’ve had the whole gambit of setbacks that any food and drink producer will be more than familiar with. Drinks that didn’t taste right or went off, labels that didn’t go over the bottle or printed oddly.
That said, they are all part of the experience. I always look at how calm the factory managers are. They have issues every single day. You get used to it, work out the solution quickly and try to learn for next time.
In five years’ time, I will be…
Proudly overseeing a whole range of JF Rabbit drinks and snacks but still getting a bit of buzz when I see someone with them on the tube.
What one tip would you give to others starting out?
Talk to as many people as possible. You’ll be amazed at how supportive people are and how many ideas or contacts they have that you haven’t even considered. Don’t be afraid to ask. Often people are flattered and more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Who are your business heroes and why?
Anyone who has taken the risk and gone through the stress and angst of setting up a business has my respect.
Within food and drink there are some fantastically innovative entrepreneurs coming through. I’d single out my friend Ben Branson who is redefining an entire category with Seedlip his brand of non-alcoholic spirits. He’s developed something truly new that delivers on a problem we’ve all had, namely what to drink when we’re not drinking.
Find out what it takes for a small brand to get stocked by Whole Foods
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