The Entrepreneurs - Fever-Tree and Black Tomato
For, many budding business founders pinpoint their great idea to upend the market and build the next grade company the time commitment and research they'll put into building a brand and product may well feel like traveling to the ends of the Earth to make sure they've got it right and for a certain set of entrepreneurs, they literally will travel to every corner of our planet to find the perfect partners, the best suppliers, and even the greatest stories to make sure they indeed have created a benchmark offering to take to market. You're listening to the entrepreneurs with me Daniel Bauge. This week on the show, we meet him more load, the CO founder and CEO of fever tree the premium drink mixer brand created by Tim and Charles Rolls Tim and Charles were veterans of the drink industry when they came together in two thousand and three with what may seem like a simple premise. Great. A top-quality tonic water worthy of mixing with the world's Best Jin's after all three quarters of your cocktail depending on how you pour it. Launch back in two thousand and five fever tree is now the top mixer brand on earth with its range of tonics and sodas. As you'll hear, they left no stone unturned to make their tonic which included extensive research in the British library on its history in helping troops by malaria to being stopped at gunpoint in the Democratic Republic of Congo has they were trying to meet a potential supplier. And a little later in the show speaking about adventure and the far reaches of Earth. We'll catch up with a pass guess Tom Merchant Tom is the CO founder of black tomato, a premium travel group creating bespoke once in a lifetime trips Tom, Watson on the industry and the future of travel and offer some advice for smaller brands in this space. That's coming up but first, here's my conversation with Tim on the story of fever tree. Still doesn't feel all that long ago, but that's probably a sign of age backing two, thousand and three. I was looking very hard at entrepreneurial opportunities in the world of premium drinks and focusing within that quite hard on the world of Gin and I was talking to lots of people in around the Jin Trade and two people actually said to me e should. Get in contact with Chaco Charles. Rolls and Charles, had very successfully breathe life back into this wonderful old brand of Gin Co, Plymouth, GIN, which had sort of fallen out of favor. And in the bowels of one of the victories companies rather on loved and he had taken it very entrepreneurial way and put it very sesame back in and that got bought relatively quickly by one of an expert companies, and so he'd made a real name and reputation for himself does ugly said what a gin so these these government people say you should give him a cool I think you'd get on and I did and we met for coffee and actually Over our First Cup of coffee, the conversation changed really quite quickly from gin to tonic because it was a power that would also very coincidentally had also been thinking very much along the same lines about the world of tonic water and the world of mixes you know we'd really both sort of come to the same conclusion and that was it this world of spirits in a time back in two thousand and three was really starting to gather interest and momentum. Consumers was starting to become more interested in gauged in it. The spirit companies assigned to focus much more on the premium end of their range, talking about providence and heritage of producing ever better quality more boutique spirits laws were changing. So Cross spirits were starting to to come to the market and also this whole world of mixologist. With bartenders, the starting to spring up and be talked about and balls or making great fanfare about the quality of the spirits on that cocktail. So this whole world is really starting to the budget create interest in spirits yet in stock contrast, the Mexican category had a column this a long forgotten overlooked castaway dominated by large conglomerate brands and own label products who ultimately ended up focusing much more manufacturing efficiency than quality your flavor with ingredients like cheap artificial sweeteners such as saccharin starting to be pretty commonplace across the whole category. Struck houses extraordinarily is that people were pet to pay more money for really good well-crafted spirit. But at that point, they had no choice but to drown it with the sort of increasingly artificial mixes so. It was really. Between our conversations as we were saying when you actually some stop and think about it, three quarters of that gin and tonic is tonic. So surely, we can get people to start to pay more interest at attention to the tonic because surely there realized that is equally as important to the quality of that mixed drink as the spirit so. Interestingly having not each other for it was really a case of a meeting of minds and the fact that we're both. Thinking, this as I say from sort of separate angles but we send the great almost there and that to get on with it and go out and try and produce a fantastic range of. High Quality Mixes. So that was way the idea came from. It's an incredible story and and you talk there about sort of the craft boom. Obviously, we know about the popularity of GIN incredible market reach that has the incredible value of that market here in the UK for many different brands. A lot of people will know about different genes, but they don't really know about those brands in the world that you moved into obviously created one of the great ones. How do you actually go about creating those quality products? People will know perhaps about the botanical in Jin but they won't really know what actually tonic is. So how did you teach yourself about that world and how did you said out to make sort of the best product of possible what you are exactly right. That's what we suddenly realize is that this has become so uninteresting categories. People working said that they really have no idea what was in tonic water if indeed, there wasn't anything in Tonic Water Monetize, you've got I didn't even know what it is what is going to bits a sweet I mean is there anything in it and so what we really wanted to do was hero the ingredients and educate people about the ingredients. But to do that, we wanted to ourselves go out find the very best quality ingredients and so actually we took a very different approach to product development and I think not one that soft drink world set in the mix had saved for is that you know we went to back into the history books. I spent quite a lot of time in the British library researching the history of tonic water to start and then other mixes and then actually going out gels and I l. selves go find these ingredients of meet the supplies and I have to say I still do this today. So one of the great joys of the business, but it has taken me to some extraordinary places. I mean Charles out pretty early and go to the Ivory Coast, deepen the Ivory Coast we find and still sources wonderful fresh red green ginger that we use an agenda products that no one had conceived of using this kind of culture ginger in Ginger Als ginge bears before but. A pretty wonderful places a year also guys in the Yucatan province in Mexico where we source in these fantastic limes. But also some pretty dangerous places and for me the most memorable of which was going to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo to go and find out quinny. Now I doubt if you know down your book in a crane is the. Very. Essence of tonic water. The whole reason actually tonic water came about was because quitting is this miraculous substance that actually can prevent you from catching malaria all kill you for malaria and at the time in the eighteen hundreds, it was the only thing that could do this all the time. Larry was the biggest killer in the world it still the second biggest tragic. Quitting was actually given as a medicine to British troops when they out in India and quitting if you haven't tried, it comes from the Bach of the fever tree, and so the troops used to add sugar water botanical 's to that morning quitting just to help the medicine go down. But what also administrates with them at that time always was a ration of Gin. So, what really help the medicine go down was adding expedient of Jin's that morning. Tonic. Water. So that is how tonic water an Jones on it came about. But when I was doing my research I discovered that that was one last remaining plantation of the highest quality cuisine. Unfortunately, it was just in about the most remote and lawless part of the world which was there on these and. The deal see. I mean to put it in perspective about how remote is just to get there I had to fly from London to Nairobi from Nairobi, took a Golly in Rwanda, and then find a local taxi driver and drive the whole length of Rwanda that was just to get to the border of the DRC and and to give you an idea of how lawless it was is that when I got that border just sort of three miles that it took from that border to me the guys running the plantations i. Got Stopped with this Allegra taxi driver on three different occasions. Three different roadblocks. The first one was memorable because someone through a wood plank of word with six inch nails out in front of the car, which is very effective where giving you to stop. But he was pretty well armed this guy, and so he just put his hand into the car for a bit of a payoff at the second one. The Guy didn't even bother with the word in the nails he just had a string but very well again so you start. And then the third one is the one that his live with me for the longest because it was just a pretty young guy who sort of stumbled out of the undergrowth and he had a rocket launcher slung every shoulder, and again he received his reward as a result but. But I have to say it was the most memorable of trips, but it has been very worthwhile because from right from the stars, we have sourced all of our quoting from these guys and they are fantastic in the way they manage that business in that plantations, they all the employer for the region and that she has the recently ended last year saying them again is exciting to see actually the way all businesses growing and growing with us and the amount of new jobs and employment brought to that region. That is also the lakes that we go to to go and find these ingredients because. Believing as we did right from start still today that quality is everything tells ingredients in products, and fortunately it will pay the consumers have the same view indeed and sounds like you've gone to the ends of the earth and had a few scares along the way to to find these great products. If you look at the map of the drinks you do make that is across Asia Africa Europe and the Yucatan in Mexico as as you pointed out some of the finest ingredients you can find, but what part of the company's growth or getting there? Did you start to tap into this storytelling? Obviously? That's important. Today people want to know about quality that want to know about how things are made in this new renaissance of Craft. Let's say across different industries that storytelling part of it now is so important where did you find out about that too in your journey you also with your first question about what goes into tonic that's why we realized. You know we really wanted to tell people about ingredients because we thought if they could you know understand that actually a ton of water is up with lots of wonderful and exotic ingredients as indeed candy Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer, and all these. Other products. So we thought that that would naturally be of interest to people I. Suppose you know the way we went about marketing it really built on that that sort of ingredient storytelling because we didn't have big budgets tool, and so you know we wanted to go and tell our story to the opinion fullness. I suppose you described as a of our trade and get them to taste our products and understand the ingredients that have gone into it and likes we've gone to and how important that is, and so we spend an awful lot of time very early on going round talking to bartending. Community and doing this simple tasting and to your point in Italian about those stories. Also a chefs who we always thought could be really engaged by this. They know about the importance of ingredients and themselves great legs defining great. So and that I have to say proved it really effective because we had a sort of wonderful bits of good fortune with some of the chefs that sought it to so to speak up about fever tree and the products. And also jealous we spend a Lotta time in early on trying to get generalists interested but that was quite hard for understandable reasons is that again so forgotten his concrete that there was actually just no column inches anywhere that could cover the story they were say okay. Well, this sounds interesting but I'm ready. Sorry. We'd have write about mixes and tonic water, and there's no space today. So that was actually quite a hard song but then bit by bit as we grew and the category started to get interesting in recited to find that there was opportunities talk about it so. Your question. Yes. Storytelling has been essential for us not just intensive expanded the concere about the product. Bennett. She getting people the trait to talk about it, and now it's very important platform for us. I'm curious about how you approach the market and where you sort of want to be you talk about telling the story and not being a big part of it. Obviously the industry's change and what people consumers are demanding I guess to go along with their drinks just a few years ago I understand you only had a fraction of the market here in the UK that. has grown significantly I think against other competitors, you don't have to name names if you don't want. But what was sort of your approach staying your own lane, do your own thing and and it would spiral from there or did you have a specific target in mind on how you would sort of grow this? No I think again as you've described it in a standard. Lane I think that's precisely it. You know right from the start we have set out to position this product at a certain part of the market at the southern price point because we didn't want to ultimately compromise on the quality of the ingredients because naturally what happens when you stop to look at big a discount opportunities I'm afraid the product starts to suffer as result. Say, we haven't changed the quality of those ingredients from day one but what has happened is the you know the consumers have sort of woken up to the importance of this and so as you can't say, I mean we started obviously as a startup and lots of bank conglomerate competitors, and now we find us here in the UK is actually the market leader by value. Some real proof of the fact that actually is we'd always suspected unhooked the qualities broad appeal and you want someone has tried something and they liked the taste of it. They find it very hard to go back and to compromise is they would sit and that really has been proven by the way the business is growing and I have to say that that's not just a case in the UK I'm excited. Say I mean I know WanNa. Cool has Canadian origins. Well, just last week now at she'd the number one in Canada by value retail and businesses growing very quickly in many countries but America. Australia. So you know it is proof of what we always have that quality will out. You know Tim I would be remiss to not ask you about impact. You set out earlier the origins of the and its purpose and helping to fight malaria. You are a big part of that fight today around the world trying to give back talk to me a little bit about about that and why it's important for everyone at fever tree. Well because of the inextricable link between the fever tree and malaria and tonic and malaria for quite a long time now's business. We have been supporting malarial initiatives, anti heroic initiatives on my dad and as one group in particular that you know we've put a lot of support behind is a fantastic organization malaria no more. We've given them a million pound commitment of these last couple of years to get out there and help in this fight because. It's still amazing to me the amount of lives that are lost every year through malaria. We're talking five, six, hundred, thousand people a year, and yet it is actually a preventable disease. Now, we have the medicine be able to prevent this and indeed cure people, and so we do all we can in our own small way and supporting. A charitable partners Latin Malaria try and raise the profile of malaria and the fight because you know that is a possibility in this lifetime to be able to eradicate this disease and. Things Amazing as a tragic headline is that more people have died from Larry than any other disease ever in history of math and yet we've got this opportunity if we can get enough people and heads and governmental heads together to focus in on it to eradicate it tim just lastly running at a time here. So I wonder if you could just. Talk to us a little bit about what the focus is on in the next few weeks in the next few months for you guys moving forward continuing to grow your story and your journey. Obviously, there are other products, other categories, things like soda and Ginger Beer you've moved into. But what's really the focus right now and and continuing to grow fever tree What's been very exciting for us as a business is that you know we've been growing right from the start pretty quickly around the world, but still business is largely based. Gin and tonic. But actually when you stop and think about it, gene only accounts for six percent of the spirits category worldwide and if you look at something like dot spirits innova account for ten times that size and so as you say, we have been busy over the years developing different styles of mixes specifically to go with all of these wonderful different styles of spirits that are out there. And the exciting thing is at the same time as we've been doing that the spirits trade have. Come to realize that actually the future of getting more people to drink that good quality spurs is to encourage people to drink them simply a mixed and so you know we all this natural partner for them and getting people to drink spirits more widely, and so as far as we're concerned, it is very exciting times. Is it's been exciting the last ten years or so. But actually, the opportunity is getting bigger and bigger because now here we are talking and walking with Irish whiskey companies. American. Whiskey companies working with the mood companies with vodka companies Tequila companies, you know you name it that all turning to want to push him promotes that products makes a mixed well and so that's why we fit in and I think you know what we have seen this age. And it is the fact that our retail sales have grown very strongly own around the world, and that's because people are realizing that actually they can make that delicious drink quite simply at home by using a great mixer, the great spirit. So they can replicate that entree that hotel restaurant experience at hub, and so sits there is is a foldable but said a simple and easy to make treat and the amount of people that have been in contact saying. Favorite Thank you so much. You've got now idea the only thing that's keeping me getting through home schooling is thought of that well-made Gin and tonic at the end of it and the same you know people talking about working from home they're saying what that of delineates that day of work from home and the evening is actually taking the time to make that delicious simple drink. So I, think the spirit coming is waking up I think exciting they consumers are realizing this as well. So you know we see enormous amount of opportunity ahead. Tim. Very well said it's been great to connect and I thank you so much for your time won't slow down in the. Thank you very much. Two more low the CO founder and CEO of fever tree. You can learn more at fever dash treat dot com. Next we catch up with Tom March into the CO founder of the Black Tomato. Group Company built around luxury bespoke travel. The brand creates immersive travel experiences all around the world something, which has been a bit tricky of late. Here's Tom with this week's op-ed on the future of travel. Hi. I'm marching together found is Matt Smith and James. Merritt. We starting Black Marta in two thousand five to satisfy we source gap in the market traveling curiosity and going against the grain box holidays. Could happen a first concern was, of course, the safety of our traffic clients for our partners who've been really affected. But we knew early on that the most important thing we needed to do was communicate with clients and partners staff the outside world, and it's crisis you can't over communicate. Keeping this in mind I think a big part of the future travel is and people wanted to know who they can trust to give them the right information. Always know the ramifications of airline changes what places will be opening or particular hotel is doing with the guards or social distancing well, how you can transfer and a bug from here to there. The role of trusted tremen- experts has never been more important. To us to communicate that improving future travels in good hands if people are someone to trust. We also seeing a trend towards people looking for one or two outstanding lengthier more immersive trips a year. Instead of Pepsi eight smaller trips that was previously more common approach. Justifying hassle taking on apple's more constrained routes traveled in general during. Is. A real challenge people need to feel this worth. Our response to helping people justify. The travel. Been, credit series of trips journeys to come. Trips designed around a significant moment events were experience. Response to create within those who see these offerings is one of I have got to go and do not a debate. Current Journey, for example, baser and taking a trip to Argentina and December witnesses solar eclipse from private bespoke. Patagonia mountains. These genuinely Joran fluid trips on your average bucket list it could end defining the person and undoubtedly ease the justify taking. Same Vein of using travelers to experience. Now, that people work from home, we've seen greater than some clients who want to go to different countries for longer periods. Reimburse themselves that. This comes with a completely different set of requirements perhaps a place in the village of property. Office. Strong can activity to work off. Locations that are beautiful with inspiration experiences to be enjoyed around him. Fascinated to see the ease with which the world has been able to shift away from the physical office space. Those. Industries where this is feasible of course. There is now a growing sense appreciation of freedom to work from wherever you want in the world. Travel restrictions standing. Oh. Shit out. More than anything? Kevin is born to free Wi people travel. We know that we exist to help people find the perfect trip whatever that means. To experience the world with different? Lens. We have faith that people want to continue to travel. Show in our industry anything. is how passionate people are about travel and it means them on the desire to one day be able to explore freely again. Guessing. Which one they know it will. We'll be here for him continue to help people connect with is wonderful allows. Tom Martin of black tomato and Tom has been kind enough to join us on the line. Now, to take a question this week Tom, it's great to have you back on the show and I appreciate your insight I. Have a question here for you now, which comes in from Mexico City. Let's have a listen. Hello my name is Danni Amazon I'm the CO founder of IDA running. We're a company that designs and operates transformative travel experiences for runners around the world by combining ancient and modern cultures, remote landscapes in different forms of oneness in spirituality. So, my question to you is your business endured the two, thousand, eight financial crisis, and now it's now facing the Cova crisis as well. Both of which have had a big impact on the luxury travel industry. What changes do for see the way that people are going to travel after Covid and how have your dad did your business to overcome these crises? Thank you. It's interesting to think about the changes covid will have on how people are going to travel off to it. I think the big change is how people traveling through it and there was a genuine hype that when or if a vaccine ever arrives or other, we find a truly effective way of managing it that people will start returning back to how they used to travel to an extent at what's been cleared cave it is. People still want to travel see the world, connect the coaches China, themselves find inspiration have experiences. And I didn't think that is going to disappear I. think There was a view at the start of this that. We never see people moving around the world again and resigned just to our backyards and I think there's a growing appreciation of what we can do at home and that won't go and that's that's important. But we will see people taking trips to go out and explore on the pent-up dimond travel that is growing surf through caveat, I think lead to them. I think they'll be certain aspects of the way we've been traveling. Now that will still remain such as the idea that people go for longer more immersive trips rather than taking lots of short weekends I think that may stay simply because I think as people take that kind of travel though probably they enjoy it and the opportunity to connect to immerse themselves in place more. So than paps federal hits, you get when you're just taking short weekends but. I'm not being optimistic here, but the the world's we'll keep travelling when we get through David I think what's More of an interesting question is how we keep during caveat, and that's probably for another discussion. But the way we're coping through code is sure we stay relevant to our customers see where we can create product offerings that. Can Be taken without them having to take on extremely challenging travel I'm making sure they know we're here for them both now but in the future and I looked to inspire them. Be Points of information be points of help. And show that we're on the journey with them when the world can stop traveling really wants to. Thanks so much for this Tom Great advice there, and we hope we can check in with you again soon that's Tom March of black tomato. You can find out more at black tomato dot com and have a listen back to the full episode I did with Tom Episode Three hundred and ninety seven of the entrepreneurs. That's all for this week my thanks, Jack Jurors who mixed and edited the show again. Uh, thank you so much for listening and goodbye.