On the up Hunter Ruthven · 21 June 2017
Former Innocent Drinks duo making waves with their own drinks brand
They worked at a British drinks brand that became a household name, but Paul Lederer and Charlie Hoare have gone solo and are betting big on birch water. From humble beginnings when the founders placed yes? and no? bins at a festival to conduct market research, Innocent Drinks grew in popularity and was ultimately sold to Coca-Cola for more than 100m. Now, two Innocent DrinksalumnI are forging off by themselves and have interestingly partnered with Coca-Cola’s biggest rival, Pepsi, to bring birch water to the masses and create a long-lasting drinks brand in the fiercely competitive fast-moving consumer goods space. Business Advice caught up with Lederer to uncover the story and progress of TAPPED. (1) Please tell us a little about yourself and the business? Charlie and I met at Innocent Drinks about ten years ago. We were both passionate about good healthy food and drink, and leading an active healthy lifestyle. Charlie then spent five years in Asia with some time in startups and then embarked on a year-long 10, 000 mile bike ride from Malaysia back to the UK. In the meantime, after five years at Innocent, I spent some time working with other startups and emerging brands, including some time dabbling in the coconut water market. We launched TAPPED just over two years ago now with a vision to inspire natural, healthy living with a range of drinks made from nature itself. (2) Why did you think the drinks brand business idea had some legs? We could see that consumers were increasingly looking for drinks which were natural, lower in sugar (and free from sweeteners and other additives) and with naturally occurring benefits. There was a trend towards more refreshing and hydrating drinks, with the rapid growth of the bottled water market, and, even more relevant to us, coconut water, good evidence of this. With birch water having for centuries been traditionally consumed for a range of health reasons thanks to the wide range of nutrients it contains, we could see how it matches this need. Interestingly, just as we were starting to look at birch water, maple water brands started to appear in the US, showing us that the tree water market was starting to happen on both sides of the Atlantic. (3) What growth progress has been made since the business was founded? We launched the business in WholeFoods in April 2015, followed shortly afterwards by customers including Planet Organic, Selfridges and Sourced Market. Since then weve grown our UK distribution to over 300 stores, with TAPPED now available from Sainsbury’s, Boots, As Nature Intended, Vita-Mojo, Natural Kitchen, plus lots of great independent stores, and online from Ocado, Abel & Cole, Amazon and Holland & Barrett. Our big news is that TAPPED will also be available from 300 Waitrose stores next month. We also sell in more than 50 stores in continental Europe (4) What did you learn from your time at Innocent that has helped with your own company? We learned a lot more than we have time to share today! Innocent is a business that has, and continues to, employ an incredible array of highly-talented people, so you’re learning new things from them every single day. We obviously learned a lot about the drinks market, and specifically a lot about sales and marketing, but, thanks to Innocent’s very open culture and the one team? spirit, a lot about supply chainS, manufacturing AND finance which was really helpful when setting up the business. The commercial and entrepreneurial spirit especially still lives with us getting things done and seizing opportunities. PepsI Nutrition Greenhouse incubator development important? Participating in the initiative gives us an amazing six months of mentoring from industry experts who are more specialised in their roles than we can be in a startup, where we need to be doing a bit of everything.
ABOUT THE EXPERTHunter Ruthven
Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.