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Food & Drink
Rik Roberts / Tony Watson
You can find us at:
Kingston on Thames
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Tell us your business story to date...
I was on holiday in France 2 years ago with all my family. On the first day my father-in-law asked if I fancied a drink. Now, I wasn't sure if this was a test to check whether I was a suitable parent to my 4yr old and 1 year old (Amelie and Elise). So, to be on the safe side I said “It's a bit early isn’t it Stuart” and he replied “It's 6 Somewhere” - and that phrase just stuck in my head.
He pulled out a bottle of 2.5% French Cidre and it was delicious.
When we came back to the UK, I met up with Tony, and we couldn't really find any traditionally made French Cidre in the UK market, so Tony and I decided to see if we could find some manufacturers and do it ourselves.
We did a huge amount of research, which admittedly did contain a fair amount of testing of the various cidres, and then an analysis of in-store ranging - and then we found the Huet and Dupont families. They loved our idea, and agreed to let us try it in the UK.
We have recently secured distribution in c 500 Tesco stores, and are now working very hard with them to deliver against the expectations we have agreed. In addition, we are in some quite advanced talks with a number of On-Premise customers
Tell us about your products/services in more detail...
We make Cidre made from 100% apples.
In the UK, to be called cider, the liquid only needs to contain 35% apple or apple concentrate in it. The rest of it is sugar, other fruit/grains, apple concentrate, caramel flavouring and other stuff.
We want there to be labelling on alcohol, so that the consumer knows what it is they are consuming - because at the moment, it's very difficult for them to find out.
Our Cidre has no added sugar, flavourings, or colourings AND it's Gluten Free.
The families who make it for us, out in France, have been running their businesses for more than 125 years - so there's a huge amount of tradition, experience and passion.
There’s an awful lot of chat about “Craft” going on at the moment, especially in beer. However no-one’s really doing anything different in cider. So, if you think that using only the finest quality of produce, utilising years of experience and expertise, and then calling your mate who has a bottling plant on the back of his lorry to bottle your product is “craft” - then you’d love our Premier Cru from the Dupont family - you can check out the pictures here http://www.6somewhere.com/-craft-.html
The name 6 Somewhere came from that conspiratorial moment when you entice someone to have a drink with you. It’s permissively naughty because there’s more than one of you doing it, and you know you probably shouldn’t be at that moment
What are the best and worst things about running your own startup business?
I can only talk from my own experience, so lets start with the ups
- The best things outweigh the worse things 10x over.
- I can be 100% focussed on the consumer and the customer. I think that gives me an advantage.
- No commute, no one to report to, no red tape, no excuses, no politics, no BS - wow, I could really go on here !
- Anytime I get challenges I think "Well you could be on the M25 trying to get home to see the kids for 5 mins before they go to bed". Instead, I just walk downstairs from the loft and go say hi to them when I want
- The responsibility for everything is down to me (and your team if you're lucky enough to have one!). I have to check everything, so your attention to detail increases.
- When I have an idea, I don't need a convoluted chain of people, and multiple meetings to get it signed off, I can just do it. It makes me agile, and quicker than my competition
Even the downsides have positives !
- Patience - you may have a great idea but it sometimes takes a while to change the world ! But they say its a virtue.
- Learning "stuff" - all the things that I haven't done before. An expert in something would take minutes to do what can take me hours. But then, I really like learning new "stuff" as it's quite interesting (even stuff like the vagracies of barcoding etc) to learn new skills. Plus in 20 years you can look back through rose-tinted spectacles and say "Do you remember when we started and we had to do X, Y, Z it was so much more fun and hands-on"
- Building momentum - and then keeping it - and trying to keep your brand at top of mind (with no money)
- Getting people to buy into your vision can be difficult when you are trying to do new/different things
What has been the most fulfilling startup experience to-date? What did you learn?
There's been a few
Finding the Domaines in France, with people who wanted to work with us, and had the same vision for the brand, and the importance of traditions and natural products was really great. 18months ago we had never spoken to them, and now we have a really great, open and honest relationship with them. We've been over to see them on multiple occasions, and make sure that we communicate regularly with them in order to share our plans and vision. I even tried speaking French for a bit (they asked me to stop).
Feedback from customers has in the main been extremely positive. We spent a load of time trying to find a Cidre of very high quality, and our Domaines give us that, so it wasn't a surprise that we've had such good feedback - but it was a relief. There have been opportunities for us to cut corners on things like packaging which we did not take. We have probably spent too much on some things, but it's delivered a premium product - and we hope that when we get the size of business we aspire to, then we will be able to benefit from economies of scale.
And finally, after our launch in Tesco, we have had some really positive feedback from consumers. It's been really rewarding to have that engagement with the people drinking our Cidre
Is there anything you can offer to help other startup businesses?
We'd be happy to talk to any other entrepreneurs. We've learned quite a lot in the past 12 months, not all on purpose, and fortunately nothing that has had a catastropic effect on the business
We're not sure we'll be any help, but it's aways 6 Somewhere, so we'd be happy to discuss over a Cidre or two.
Our number one piece of advice would be use Xero accountancy software - it's amazing - especially for VAT returns !
Is there any help that are you looking for?
The thing that attracted us to Storyfied in the first place was that we were looking for places to connect with other entrepreneurs.
By our very nature, as entrepreneurs, we are pretty good self-starters with high levels of motivation to change something in the marketplace for the better for the consumer - in our case it's providing high quality Cidre made from 100% apples, as opposed to all this cider you get given in the UK that should really be labelled as alcopops.
But having somewhere where we can connect with like-minded people, share idea's, discuss what has worked and why (assuming non-competes), asking advice, boring people with war stories etc - was something of interest