Jack Scott, Dash Water
Co-Founders Jack Scott and Alex Wright are tackling the problem of food waste head on with the creation of their soft drinks business Dash Water, which only uses wonky fruit that would have been rejected by supermarkets.
- What does your business do?
We make healthy soft drinks which are made from fresh spring water infused with wonky fruit. We are a certified B Corporation and will achieve retail sales of £20 million this year.
- Why did you decide to start your business?
My co-founder Alex Wright and I used to sell mainstream soft drinks but we are both from farming backgrounds and could see at first hand that there was a big problem with food waste, with up to 40% of the fruit and vegetables grown in the UK never reaching people’s plates. So we decided to make a soft drink using only wonky lower grade fruit that has been rejected by the supermarkets which might otherwise have been thrown away. We started Dash Water in 2017, calling it Dash because it is spring water with a dash of flavour, and our cans are now stocked in Sainsburys, Waitrose and Asda.
- How did you finance the growth of your business?
We started out by raising £180,000 as a loan from family and friends which enabled us to create the product, and since then we have raised over £7 million from angel investors over several different rounds of investment.
- What has been the most difficult or challenging part of growing your business?
For us the most challenging thing is breaking through into a very competitive soft drinks market which is run by very large multi-national businesses who have deep pockets and fantastic sales and marketing operations. We are always trying to think of creative ways to sell our product and break through within the market, for example by selling direct to consumers via our website. No other soft drink does that effectively.
- What key lesson have you learnt about setting up and growing a business?
That the focus shifts as the business grows. When we started it was all about creating a product that looked and tasted great and was sourced properly, but now the challenge is around building a fantastic team. That has been a real learning curve for me as a founder.
- What has been the impact of the pandemic on your business and how have you dealt with this?
Until recently the impact has been ok. We managed to make up for the distribution points we lost in offices and travel and on the high street by growing our online sales in supermarkets and through our website. We didn’t have to put anyone on furlough and we managed to double the business. But now we are feeling the impact through inflation – our costs have gone up significantly because our manufacturers have passed on their higher energy and transportation costs onto us. So now we are in a difficult position where our margin has been eaten into. Most companies would pass that on to their customers but it is not very easy for us to do that in our position because we are still at very early stages of our business and and we have important relationships with supermarkets that we don’t want to hinder.
- What has been your biggest mistake?
It can be difficult to get a product canned on a small scale and we wasted money trying to do that. Once we went all the way to Wales to pick up a load of spring water and brought it back to north London in a lorry to get it canned the next day. But the chap who was doing the canning contaminated the spring water overnight so we had to go back to Wales to get some more spring water and book another slot for canning the following week.
- What has been the secret of your success so far?
Creating a product that tastes great. With Dash it really is all about the product. I think a lot of food and drink brands forget that to create a brand that people love, you need to create a product that they want to buy over and over again.
- What advice would you give an entrepreneur just starting out about how to grow their business?
Do your own research and do your own groundwork.
- What personal quality or characteristic has been most useful to you as an entrepreneur as you grow your business?