Meet the founder of World of Zing
Stretching back to 1968, the beginning of the award-winning brand World of Zing, to now 2017, which is just phenomenal, but before we get into World of Zing, please tell me a little bit about the journey and yourself Pritesh.
I’m the third generation of one of the UK’s oldest and most respected spice merchants, so food & drink has always been my passion. I’ve basically fluked a living out of eating and drinking since completing a Law Degree at university many many years (and hangovers ago)!
Following my studies, I fell into Drinks Marketing, where I spent over 10 years as an independent consultant to major brands on strategy and trends. Of course, the attraction of being paid to enjoy the odd drink or ten at some of the best bars around was a bit of a chore, but someone had to do it.
When it comes to business, there is something so special about running a family business. What was it like for you to grow up in an entrepreneurial environment and did it influence the direction you took to join the business?
My grandfather came to England in the early 1960’s without a penny and slowly but surely built a hugely successful business. Having grown up being inspired by watching the family business flourish (as well as overcome a few tough times along the way), I always knew that a traditional career was not for me. Indeed, as with my cousins and sister who were all encouraged to get a ‘proper’ job in a ‘respectable profession’, I studied law at university.
However, somewhat ironically, my father couldn’t have been more dismayed at the thought of me also following his path into the world of entrepreneurship. Like many Indian immigrant parents of his generation, my father invested considerably in my education so that I would not have to ‘endure’ the long hours and hard graft that comes with the entrepreneurial life. To be quite candid, he wanted little to do with my chosen career path, and it’s only recently that he’s just about come to terms with it!
What do you think sets you apart from your competitors?
I launched World of Zing because I saw a disconnect between food & drink trends in the restaurant scene and products found in the retail environment. There are few people with such a rich heritage and experience in the world of food & drink, so I leveraged the insights and contacts gained both through my family and professional activities to create a business that would spark the imagination of consumers from the beginning.
The word Zing simply implies incredible flavour and uniquely, I set out to create a brand that would operate in both the food and drinks sectors. From our award-winning Craft Bottled Cocktail Range to our recently launched range of table sauces, World of Zing is aimed at a new generation of foodies who will influence the shopping baskets of tomorrow. As a minor barometer of success, having only launched from a market stall in September 2014, our products are now found at many of the UK’s leading retailers, including over 40 products listed at Whole Foods.
How did you develop key partnerships to grow the business?
Collaborations and partnerships have played a huge part in our success. For example, we have an incredible relationship with Diageo (the largest drinks company in the world) that allows us to exclusively use their premium spirits portfolio in our cocktails; and we have also worked with the prestigious D&D Restaurant Group on menu collaborations.
There’s a huge trend for Craft/Speciality/Artisan brands at the moment, and World of Zing has uniquely positioned itself as one of the most innovative businesses in this space, with a deep understanding of food and drink products. Big brands can’t directly get in on this burgeoning scene, so they collaborate with us instead.
Has your business model changed since launch, if yes, how did it evolve?
Having launched from a market stall in September 2014, the business has evolved considerably since launch. We started off as a business that primarily retails other peoples speciality brands alongside a handful of our own. This allowed us to gain visibility and a regular customer base in this sector, as well as gaining insights into market trends. As a result we have drip-fed our own brands into the mix and we’re at a point now were the World of Zing brand is vastly more powerful than the brands we started off working with. As such, our product range has become much more focussed, with 75% less products than we started with, as well as the majority now being World of Zing branded.
How did you go about securing the right suppliers, who not only worked for quality, but also coordinated well with your brands message?
I’ve had quite a big head start in this area on a number of fronts. From an ingredients perspective, I’ve tapped into my family’s pipeline of suppliers, given that they are tried and tested for over 50 years. The drinks side of the business has flourished due to my career in the industry. When you’ve spent the best part of 12 years in the industry essentially taking journalists, suppliers and bartenders on a huge jolly every couple of months, you can imagine that I had developed some incredible relationships along the way.
Recharging every so often is important. How do you recharge when you’re feeling burnt out?
Ha ha – ha ha – ha ha.
I live by the adage “an entrepreneur is someone who lives like others won’t so that he can live like others can’t”.
Look, being an entrepreneur, particularly at start-up stage is about pushing with every bit of energy you have at every moment you have. You live, breath and eat it (literally in the food & drink industry). If I wanted weekends and regular holidays then I would have worked for someone else. It’s not exactly the healthiest of lifestyles, emotionally, mentally or physically, but I try to hit the gym occasionally and allocate time for my family.
More practically, I realised that working literally 7 days a week at 100mph was starting to become counter-productive. By the time Monday came, my brain had turned to mush and I would just sit staring at my laptop, pretty much doing nothing for the next 24 hours. So at every opportunity, I’ve employed more people to take some of the burden off me – even if it means paying them from my own pocket.
I’ve recently had a baby so I treasure the 2 hours I spend with her most mornings and at least one day on the weekend with my wife and daughter. Fortunately I’ve got an incredibly understanding wife too, which helps no end.
Working in an industry that is also your passion also helps to release some pressure, as you can essentially go out for dinner 2-3 times/week with an old friend and classify it as work!
We all make mistakes in business, what has been your biggest mistake and how did you overcome it?
We’ve fortunately not had any major issues, but there have been plenty of little mistakes along the way, particularly due to the experimental nature of our products.
I hate admin, so staying on-top of accounts and cash-flow could have been made a whole lot easier if I entrusted it to someone else to look after.
We also recently appointed a supplier who delivered a fantastic product, but we quickly realised that he couldn’t keep up with demand, with the product arriving 2months late. Going forward, we will ensure we stress test our suppliers before committing!
What three books would you recommend every entrepreneur reads?
I’m not really one for reading other peoples entrepreneurial stories. The nature of being an entrepreneur is that it’s up to you to write your own story. We all have hugely varied motivations, marketing channels and circumstances to contend with, so I guess you only need to know where someone came from and where they’ve ended.
Moreover, the nature of modern business, with fast-paced technology and digital media is that a lot of advice is redundant by the time it’s been published! I prefer to scan through short articles and interviews in newspapers. Saying that, I’ve been hugely impressed and influenced by the psychological insights in Superfreakonomics and Decoded (by Phil Barden).
Where can I buy your products?
Our products are gaining distribution rapidly, with Ocado and Amazon coming on board by the end of September. We also already work with Wholefoods and have a strong network of online and independent retail suppliers.
What question do you think every entrepreneur should be asking themselves?
There’s a lot of questions that every budding entrepreneur should be asking themselves.
Perhaps most importantly, do they truly have the conviction? I went from having a great lifestyle and being well paid to literally the opposite for 2 years. Trust me, nothing tests your conviction like standing in the cold and rain at food markets for two months in the winter where you know that you’re not even making enough to cover your pitch fee.
You also need to have a truly objective view of your idea before you take the plunge. That means keeping it as far away as possible from your friends and family, because they are only going to give you positive words of (often misplaced) encouragement. If you’re not facing criticism for your business plan then you are either an absolute genius or haven’t shown it to the right people.
Where do you see World of Zing over the next 12 months?
We have recently just relaunched with a completely new brand ID and a range of new products, including our table sauces. It’s fair to say that the response has been overwhelming, so the next stage will be to take on further investment to maintain momentum.
There’s no immediate rush, but we are already talking behind the scenes with a number of potential investors and we would consider the crowdfunding route again too.