On the up · 11 May 2018

Popaball: “Pimp your drink” with luxury prosecco and gin gift sets

The founder and managing director of Popaball, Jules Quinn.

After being listed in the first Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe in 2016, this Newcastle entrepreneur has continued to develop her second business, Popaball.

Perfect for prosecco and gin lovers, Popaball creates edible drink accessories, designed to beautify alcoholic drinks. 

Business Advice caught up with Jules Quinn to discuss her entrepreneurial journey, business highlights, and her industry heroes.

Who are you and what is your business?

My name is Jules Quinn, I am the founder and managing director of Popaball. At Popaball, we design products to ‘pimp your drinks’ such as shimmer powders and juicy, bursting bubbles. Our unique product selection is designed to enhance your alcoholic drinks, they can be purchased individually, or as part of beautiful gift sets – the perfect present for your friends and family.

How did you come up with the concept?

Popaball came through a love of creating cool drinks, which I would make for friends and parties. I saw a process called ‘spherification’ happening in bars and so I developed a product like that which could be used in people’s homes. We launched the bursting juice filled bubbles a few years ago and then last year we launched the shimmer for prosecco, which is a sparkly flavoured powder you can sprinkle into drinks to make them turn magical… also known as unicorn prosecco.

What was key in terms of getting started?

For Popaball, it was important that we branded and marketed the product correctly so that people would want to use it and share it with their friends. Having come up with a unique product offering, that was sure to perform well with the ‘Instagram generation’, we knew that it would be important to invest in our online presence, to ensure the products would gain the traction required to support business operations.

What makes the business unique?

Our products are entirely unique, there aren’t any other businesses with such a diverse product offering in our market. We are constantly innovating and striving to design new and exciting goods, and our production process allows us to bring new products to the market, much quicker than our competitors.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?

Having created a brand-new market, the biggest challenge we faced was getting people to understand the products and how to use them. Therefore, our initial marketing strategy needed to be prolific from the onset.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

I was lucky enough to be named on Forbes first 30 under 30 Europe in 2016. It’s not something we had applied for, a representative of Forbes had stumbled across our brand online and got in touch, which was so exciting. Forbes is such a well-recognised and renowned publication, featuring on one of their infamous lists gave the business a lot of credibility. Even with the business’ success and growth, one achievement I’m truly proud of is that I can say I am happy every day, doing a job I love.

Describe your marketing technique – what strategies have you used?

Our marketing activity is mainly focused online, as this is how we attract attention from our key target market. Social media is key to connecting with influencers, who can promote our products to their following. It is important that the marketing shows a lifestyle of when/where/how our products can be consumed. Adding shimmer to prosecco oozes glamour, and we aim to promote this on our social accounts. As our products are so visual, we find Instagram is the best platform for our business, though, we are also active on Facebook & Twitter.

In five years’ time, I will be…

I still intend to be managing business operations at Popaball in 5 years time. I hope to see the growth continue, as we further develop and refine our unique product offering. Aside from the business, I hope to spend more time volunteering at schools, I am passionate about inspiring children and I believe that teaching them about employment from an early age is key for development.

Who are your business heroes and why?

Karen Brady is pretty cool. She is famous for her role as Alan Sugar’s assistant on The Apprentice and is decorated as ‘Business Woman of The Year’, ‘Ultimate Entrepreneur’ and rated among the 50 most inspirational people in the world. She started out from humble beginnings, as a young female in a male-dominated sector. I think she has been inspiring for many women in business, as she thrived at a time where women at management level were almost unheard of.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Start small. Everyone starts with big dreams, which are not always given a long enough time frame to get there. If you set yourself small milestones, you will be more likely to achieve them and feel good about your progress. Start small also means with your spending. Little and often is better than tying up your cash because the price overall is better, or you’ve been told there is no other way. There is always another way. If someone says the minimum order is in the thousands, keep looking. If someone says the minimum rental term is years, keep looking. You are not in a position when you start up to invest in long-term decisions when your products and strategies will change.

 

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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