We messed up

A major production run of our new cold brew started tasting strange after a few days, in a panic we call it all back, every sample, every box sent out, putting our whole business on hold and nearly crippling us at the same time. But our focus has always been on creating the best cold brew we can, we’ve never settled for second best. The thought of people thinking that our product is below par is a terrible feeling. Cold brew should be relatively simple to make, but it is new to the UK and brewing coffee well is complex, getting it made how we want and to the quality we need is a seriously tricky task.

We’re sorry to anyone that’s received our cold brew and anyone that is waiting on it. We’ll be back up and running in the next two weeks and will make it up to all of you.

Behind the scenes of food and drink companies are rarely talked about. Because it’s quite boring. The front end is much more exciting. It’s also much easier to write an update when we have something exciting to talk about. But this recent hurdle nearly broke us.

Not many businesses talk about their failures and hurdles, they talk about their successes and gloss over the problems. We’ve developed quite a big network of mentors over the years, and this recent issue has made us speak to them all. They’ve all said the same thing “this kind of thing happens all the time”. If this happens all the time then why is nobody talking about it?! If these problems can ruin a business then I feel it’s necessary for us to document why it happened, how we’re going to get over it, and what other small business should do to avoid it happening to them.

Big businesses claim to support small businesses to make themselves look better. Start-ups are leverage for big businesses. If a bigger company can work with lots of small companies they can charge more through “set up fees”, “consultation”, and “trial fees”. They can also learn recipe development, industry insights, and market development, all free of charge from the most responsive players in the game. It is paradoxical that a business that can afford less, has to pay more, for a worse service. Not only this, start-ups look good to have in their portfolio. Start-ups are fresh, unrestricted, and relatable, big businesses will try to inject these positive characteristics into their brand.

Every start-up should know how valuable they are to the consumer, retailer and manufacturer. Because often you will be made to feel like you owe them everything, when it really is the other way around.

In general, the odds are stacked against the success of a start-up. 90% of start-ups fail. This is because smaller companies have less reputational, financial and buying power. As much as it feels like there is support for small businesses, when the shit hits the fan, the underdog will get left behind. It’s a shame that companies that need the most help receive the least. We’ve learned that you can’t always rely on true support from people if you are paying them, they are often trying to profit from you, not help you. They forget that their reputation and longevity is in your hands.

Most food and drink start-ups are full of compromises. From a distance it seems like the founders have free reign, but really you’re told you have to compromise at every step to appease everyone. The manufacturers will tell you how your product has to be made, and the retailers will tell you what price your product has to be. We will never compromise. We won’t sell a product we’re not happy with. We won’t sell to a café we don’t like. And we won’t add milk and sugar to sell more. Compromising means not standing for your principles and we’d rather fail on our terms then win on someone else’s.