Hey guys – it's been a little while. How have you both been?
Hello! We’re both great – thanks. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year and we’re enjoying the ride, learning lots and excited about the future. The support from Just Entrepreneurs has been amazing along the way.
It's almost a year since we last spoke. What's new with Ugly Drinks?
Since we last spoke, we’ve tweaked a few things and re-launched our brand as a fruit infused sparkling water. We took on feedback from consumers following the first launch and recognized that consumers are drinking a lot of sugar and sweetener in carbonated beverages, so we decided to tweak Ugly to the carbonated product you see today.
Ugly is a fruit infused sparkling water, with no sugar, no sweetener and nothing artificial in the product. Right now, the drink comes in two flavours; Lemon & Lime and Grapefruit & Pineapple.
We’ve also grown the team and our team of 4 (soon to grow further) is based in a converted shipping container in Elephant and Castle. It’s a lot of fun!
I've noticed that you support a lot of other food startups on social media. Do you think it's important to show that support in the startup community?
As a business we are super passionate about food and drink. We know how hard it is to startup and want to make sure we pay it forward by helping people on the way up (we were helped ourselves) and also supporting our friends working hard to make it within the community.
There are some awesome people doing some amazing things and if we all help each other out, it’s good for everyone including consumers.
A lot of people are focusing on eating and drinking healthier. How do you feel about being involved in the health movement?
We are super passionate about making healthy products accessible to as many people as possible. With Ugly we want to make sure the drink is as accessible and available as possible to people currently drinking too much sugar and sweetener. This means we want to make our price accessible (RRP is £0.99) and also in time, we hope to be available in as many cities and towns across the UK (and hopefully beyond) as possible.
Alongside this, we wanted to make sure the Ugly brand retained a sense of fun. We feel that too many healthy products have serious positioning and we want to make sure we feel approachable to as many people as possible. Ugly is a healthy product for everyone.
Did you always want to run your own business and has this experience changed your view on being an entrepreneur?
We have both always wanted to run our own businesses (both from a young age). There is something very special about being able to put your ideas out there into the world and get feedback from consumers. The feeling is amazing. We’re also excited about building something that grows with time, and this is the exciting part.
Both building a product and brand that appeals to consumers and solves a problem, whilst at the same time, growing a team and giving the people that work with us the opportunity to learn and develop, it’s a lot of fun and super satisfying.
Having achieved so much success since launching – is there anything you know now that you wish you had known then?
The main lesson for us has been the need for patience. We always knew it was going to be hard work (and that’s been consistent with expectations) but we think it’s important for entrepreneurs to be patient. Test things, learn and then scale. It’s easy to be impatient and rush at things, but it’s important to take the time to test ideas, learn and grow from there.
Now that you are both seasoned entrepreneurs – what advice would you give to others getting ready to launch?
The main advice we would give is to start small, test and learn and keep going. Every experience is a learning opportunity and every obstacle provides an opportunity to develop and grow. If you can minimize outgoings whilst you learn, you’ll learn quickly and save resources that you can allocate to tweaking your proposition and offering for the next opportunity.
Where can I find Ugly Drinks?
We launched the range in January and are currently stocked in As Nature Intended, Planet Organic, Sourced Market, Whole Foods Market, Selfridges, Vital Ingredient and about 250 leading independents across the UK.
We’re also available via our web-shop and if you use the code: ‘UGLYJE’ then you can redeem 20% off your order before the end of June 2016.
I've been watching you both grow for almost a year now – what has been the greatest moment so far?
There are lots of exciting moments and it’s often the small things that bring the most satisfaction. We’ve both seen ‘Ugly in the wild’ with consumers enjoying a can in the street (which is super exciting) and seeing our team grow is incredible but the buzz from seeing the product on shelf and providing a genuine alternative to consumers who drinks sugary or sweetened drinks is amazing.
Of course I have to ask...what do you both have planned for Ugly Drinks over the next 12months?
We just plan to keep doing what we are doing. It’s all about focus and keeping the momentum going and hard work up everyday. We aim to make the drink as accessible as possible to consumers but we need to make sure our growth is sustainable. We hope to continue our growth over the next few months and pop up in more and more stocklists before potentially adding some new additions to the Ugly line-up in 2017.