Hi Jerome, please tell us about the creator behind PHROOTI.
I’m 25 and from the very first day possible, I have worked. At just 14 I set up my own budgerigar breeding business (coincidentally like Sir Richard Branson) whilst holding down a six-night-a-week paper round, two café jobs and completing 11 GCSEs!
Working and creating my own wealth is my natural instinct. Since then, I have learned my commercial skill set as an account handler in the advertising industry, set up a professional event photography/videography service, revolutionised one cycling club and set up another.
I enjoy running my own business, which I can develop, nurture and call my own. I believe that if you want something in life, grab it and I’m grabbing this opportunity with eight fingers and two thumbs to stand on my own ten toes and make my way in the world independently rather than spending my life in a big corporate machine, capped by working for someone else and working my way up a ladder. I want to lead my own future and that of my company. After all, isn’t it better to have tried than to never have tried at all? I think so...
You have created a brand parents like myself absolutely love, because of the no junk approach. What was the inspiration behind it?
A frustration with there being limited or no choice for people who want a zero-percent-sugar drink which actually tastes nice and isn’t artificially flavoured. When I also found out that juices and smoothies are actually unhealthy (because the fibres have been broken down so the sugar hits your liver in one spike) and not worth the trade-off for sugars vs vitamins, I knew I had to find or make an alternative or I’d just be drinking water for the rest of my life!
How did the business go from concept to launch?
I was actually selling an all-fruit alternative to fruit tea that I had invented, when I took some samples of my new creation: Fruit Infused Water to a trade show. At the trade show, I was inundated with people fighting over the samples I had brought of my zero-precent-sugar bottled drink and so I knew I had to switch focus, raise investment and launch it in January with a distributor. And that’s exactly what I did.
How did you feel when you received your first sample?
I never received my first sample per-se as I was at the factory when they were made. However holding the first sample was a mixture of excitement, relief and frustration. I was excited because it looked and tasted great. I was relieved because I had met the tight timeline to launch with the distributor and I was frustrated because I could already see things I wanted to improve. That’s the thing, if you’re creating something, you’re never happy with the current product. And if you are, you’ve lost your edge.
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not running PHROOTI?
Getting beaten up at my Thai boxing gym (like boxing but also including kicking, elbows and knees), riding my bike, driving my 1970 Mini Van, going for a drink with my mates, catching up with family, going for brunch with my girlfriend who also runs her own business and spending as much time in the Peak District as possible.
How did you fund it all in the beginning?
I started with a small amount of savings. Then I won some awards and some bank funding and have just raised some investment.
It’s great to see an alternative to the usual sugar-filled drinks on our shelves. Do you have plans to introduce anymore alternatives?
We will be extending our range of flavours shortly and have lots more products planned under the PHROOTI brand, but I will have to keep these top secret for now!
What has been the most exciting and the most challenging experience so far?
The manufacturing processes have always been both the most exciting and the most challenging times, at the same time. When you’re creating something new and unique, nothing ever goes smoothly (understatement!) but it is incredibly exciting when you feel like you’ve made a breakthrough.
What are your top tips for marketing a food brand?
Just get out there and get people to taste it! Trade shows are good for winning B2B clients and you really need to find the appropriate digital form of marketing for your audience in order to build your brand.
How would you define being an entrepreneur?
Like being caught in a dream where you are constantly jumping out of a plane repeatedly without a parachute, then making one on the way down and then getting closer and closer to the ground! You can’t become complacent because as soon as you do, you’re suddenly falling out of the plane all over again without a parachute… and on and on and on it goes. Tolerance of this lifestyle and persistence wins.
What plans do you have for Phrooti over the next 12 months?
Get it stocked as widely and as densely as possible within our target market of stockists.