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After years of pondering back and forth on what business to create, Richard Reed, alongside co-founders Adam Balon and Jon Wright, started Innocent Drinks with just £500. Little did they know they’d sell to Coca-Cola in early 2009 for £30 million, now the brand has a valuation of $500 million.
The initial £500 went into buying fruit to make smoothies which the trio sold at a music festival stall. They brought a sign that said “Should we give up our jobs to make a drinks company?” and two bins, one to vote ‘yes’ and one for ‘no’. By the end of the festival, the ‘yes’ bin was full and they all resigned the following Monday morning.
What was supposed to be an exciting adventure into the business world became a shocking reality of what it really means to be an entrepreneur. In episode four of the Go Fund Yourself podcast, Richard states:
“If I had known that then, I wouldn’t have resigned. If I had known just how difficult those 15 months were going to be I would’ve gone – you know what, I’ll just stay in my job. It’s quite good fun.”
One thing Richard took pride in was his team and the company culture at Innocent Drinks. Throughout the episode, he emphasises the importance of teaming up with people from the beginning, “the extra richness, pleasure and fun, as well as the deep trust benefits to do it with your mates, it’s galactic!” Innocent Drinks wasn’t a founder-led brand, it was a brand-led brand. When the founders stepped down, it was the founding team who stepped up and took over the company. When they sold to Coca-Cola, not a single person lost their job.
As Richard and his co-founders exited, they set up JamJar, a Venture Capital fund which invests in digital consumer brands. Their portfolio includes big names such as the likes of Oatly, Deliveroo, Graze and FiiT.
It was an eye opening conversation with a genuine founder, passionate about his brand and now very passionate about providing valuable and financial support to the next generation of entrepreneurs.
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