What do you currently do?
Co-founder of Shaken Udder. Officially I look after the sales and finance side of the business…but like any SME owner, my role is far more varied then that. Not only do I meet our buyers, forecast sales, plan our finances and oversee our marketing, I also work on our NPD, co-ordinate our company wide strategy and even tow the odd trailer or two for our busy festival team.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I’m addicted to milk, but I couldn’t get a good milkshake when I was away at events. Howie (my business partner) and I saw a unique opportunity and decided to start up an events-based brand from our farmhouse kitchen! We hit the road, travelling up and down the country making fresh, tasty milkshakes for thirsty festival goers.
We quickly built up a loyal band of Shaken Udder fans who started asking where they could get our milkshakes outside of festivals, so we took a look at the retail shelves and we were disappointed with what we found. Marvellous milk was being ruined with ingredients like modified maize starch, butter milk powders, e-numbers, artificial flavours and, what’s more, they tasted like plastic fruit glue. We decided milk deserved better, which is why we developed our rich and creamy herd of delicious bottled milkshakes; blending fresh British milk with natural ingredients and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Since then we’ve continued to successfully add to our range with kids cartons and our new 1-litre Uber Udder milkshakes.
Who do you admire?
Anyone that gives something a go and doesn’t give up. Nick Skelton is a bit of legend for never giving up and getting his Gold after seven Olympic games! Dyson is another who always believed in his dream. He never took no for an answer even after 5126 failed vacuum cleaner prototypes! They’ve proven that persistence pays; it doesn’t matter how often you get knocked back, if you believe in your idea or dream you can make it happen.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
I’d have got a business mentor at the very beginning. They were fundamental in helping us to implement systems that enabled us to grow and stop working 14-16 hour days, every day.
What defines your way of doing business?
Its got to be fun and organised with everyone working towards goals. We remain flexible and able to evolve with our quickly changing market, but our core principles and our overall business goals remain our strength and drive. We keep our product and our customers at the very heart of our business, and over ten years on we’re still extremely proud of our farming and festival roots. We’ve got a fun, energetic and dedicated team who just like Skelton or Dyson never give up!
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Get a great business mentor – Go to talk to someone who has been there and done it in the industry. Their experience, understanding and support are invaluable as you grow and evolve.
Be an amazing problem solver – You’ll come up against problems, but there are always ways around them so keep focused on your goal.
Remember a business is about having something that works without you, not creating yourself a job. In the early days you may have to graft to get it off the ground, however once it gets going you need to constantly work on getting it running without you so you can focus on growing the business rather than working in the business. Do the things you are great at and employ someone to do the things you are weaker at.