Three lessons learnt in my food and drink start-up

23 November 2016

The start-up journey is often fraught with perils and a sense of entering the unknown. To help guide budding WBS entrepreneurs along this rocky road, MBA alumna, Sophia Nadur, offers three of the biggest lessons she has learnt in the launch of her Tg green tea brand.

I worked for many years in the global food and drink industry ( at the likes of Coca-Cola, Unilever, Mars, & Kraft/Mondelez) before launching my own start-up brand. Many people have asked me since what is it like running a start-up versus working "in corporate".

Related course: Full-time MBA

I want to share with you just three lessons I have learnt that are reinforced for me every day.

1) Quality remains priority number one

One of the things drilled into me from early in my career was the importance of product quality. Indeed, the first of Mars Inc.’s five principles is 'quality', which I remember being defined as 'the consumer is our boss, quality is our work and value for money is our goal'.

Product quality is an important strategic weapon for small and large food and drinks manufacturers alike and no corners should be cut! It was also a key factor for us winning a place on Tesco Backit, a new-to-the-world specialist food and drink crowdfunding platform which has been developed to support emerging brands raise funds to scale up (and of course help Tesco customers discover great new products from the best small food and drink businesses in the UK).

2) Direct Communication

I have learnt that you don’t need one-way focus group mirrors nor 100-page PowerPoint presentations to understand your customers. 

In a start-up, you get the chance every day to chat with customers and even build a natural two-way relationship which in no small way enables you not just to fulfil customer’s needs and expectations but also to surprise and delight them.

3) Recognition

External recognition is critical as you build awareness and availability. Awards give retailers and consumers reassurance that the product is worth trying out.

That every one of our iced teas was recently shortlisted for a 2016 Quality Food Award can go a long way to encouraging listing and trial. I can’t thank the judges enough for acknowledging that Tg green tea is something special. 

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