Case Study - Well Fruited
In conversation with Alexander Williams and Benjamin Kaye
Alex Williams: I am Alex Williams from Well Fruited. I entered the world of business at quite a young age. I started a cricket bat enterprise at school with some friends, and after university I started my own business magazine. I spent 6 years as a Project Manager and then I joined this fantastic company.
Ben Kaye: Hi, I’m Ben from Well Fruited, and before Well Fruited I worked in grocery retail for supermarkets, where I worked on ready meals and launching those into supermarkets. I did that for 4 and a half years, as well as working with Tesco on the early stages of their vegan brands, before I decided to move into the startup world for less of a corporate culture.
Alex: The idea started out when we were trying to get healthier over lockdown, and we started drinking more juices and more smoothies, only to realise they are full of sugar and not very good for you at all.
Ben: We should have 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, but actually 3 in 4 people don’t even get 5 a day. I try to have 10 a day myself and it is really difficult, and we realised: what if there was a way where you could get more fruit into your diet, in maybe a drink form that makes it easier? So, the business created a drink which we call ‘liquid fruit’, which is a drink where you get all the fruit and all the fibre, not like the juice that you traditionally get in a juice or smoothie, so there is extra nutrition there, and we even use fibre from other fruits that we can put into the drink that makes it even healthier for you.
The three main motivators for going into the business were ‘people’, ‘planet’ and ‘us’. For people, we wanted to make their lives better by providing a healthy solution so they could get their fruit in; For the planet – 46% of fruit and veg is wasted, so we realised that we could actually create a product which doesn’t waste fruit and veg – so that’s our product – none wasted – which is better for the planet; and for us, we wanted a bit of a break from the corporate world and we wanted to play table tennis against each other in our office.
Alex: We started back in May 2021 from humble beginnings, with a blender in the kitchen, and we were blending all night to create an individual product for people, and it started out as a gloop which was undrinkable. But we went from there, we went out to market throughout London, we got the feedback from friends and family on branding and products, and we sold over 1,000 bottles at markets in London just to get a better taste, a better flavour, and now we are quite happy with the product we’ve got.
Ben: In the initial stage, we were giving the product for free to family and friends. Then in 2021, we started getting out there to markets, festivals and events, and we got loads of feedback on the product so we could improve it; and currently now we are looking to scale up and go bigger, with further production expansion and getting into more cafés and retail outlets to deliver more fruit to more people.
The growth curve
Alex: Unlike most companies, our growth company is very staged. It started with a blender in our kitchenette, and it moved up to producing it in a kitchen environment, and the next step is going to a manufacturer and producing it wholesale. We’ve completed the first two steps, and we’re fighting hard to get to step 3.
Ben: What is interesting with a startup is that it is almost two steps forward, one step back, as we’re always iterating the product at that early stage. So, it’s definitely been less of a straight line and more or a curve and backwards kind of line, but we’ve definitely learnt a lot from that, and those are lessons we can take forward and make us stronger going forward.
Ben: Because we’re self-funded, we’ve had to do everything ourselves, from creating social media content to building the website, to making the product, to advertising it. All of these things coming together – some of these skills we already had and some we had to learn. It’s been great to be forced into learning them, because they’re really useful for any business.
Alex: The other biggest challenge is making the drinks ourselves. We’re still making it in a kitchen environment, and at the start we were up until 3am to 4am in the morning, with markets open four hours later at 8am. There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
Ben: I think one of the things which makes us really proud of the business is the customer feedback we get. I remember the first time we sold a product that we made for money; we were so proud that someone would pay us for our products. And just getting the feedback we get on the product, people really enjoying it. We’ve had really strong feedback and reviews from customers, telling us it’s one of the most refreshing and tasty drinks they’ve had, and that really motivates us to keep making more and grow.
I think the second thing is making people happy, certainly through our YouTube, TikTok and Instagram content. We try and engage people, and we are quite personable with our brand, and hopefully it brings a smile to people’s faces.
Alex: I think we’re proud of our business every day. The proudest moment has been when someone has come to us at a market and said this is the best drink I’ve ever tasted. That is personally an incredibly proud moment. And we’re just proud that we cause people to have a smile on their face. We’re more than a drink, we do media, we do TikToks, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and the fact that people are following us and are happy and smiling after an interaction with us makes us incredibly proud.
Ben: The future for us is about scaling up, and we’re looking for investment at the moment to help us scale up to produce more drink. We started by producing it ourselves in a kitchen, which is great fun, but isn’t the most sustainable business model in the future, so we’re looking to expand production.
Alex: Our next immediate step is to seek investment, get our drink manufactured on a larger scale, so it’s not just us in the kitchen every day, and we also want the biggest drinks brand on TikTok and YouTube. We think we’ve got a niche for a bit of content there, and we hope we can make people happy long into the future.
Alex: The biggest piece of advice I could give is that planning can only get you so far. You can tinker, you can tweak, but at one point you need to get out there and just do it. I think if we were stuck in the planning phase, we’d still be tinkering with our drink now. We had to make our first MVP [Minimum Viable Product] and get out there and test it. You are going to get bad feedback and you are going to get people who don’t like your product; but it is only from there that you can start learning. Without that learning, you can’t get anywhere.
Ben: I think the advice I’d give to someone who’s thinking about starting their own business is that you can always start learning early on. There’s a lot of skills that you use in every business; whether that’s building a website, how to do marketing, how to get user feedback on your product – these are relevant to every business, whatever it is. Those are skills you can get started with, even before you’ve started your business, in your spare time. Picking up those skills early will hold you in really good stead when you come to actually launch the business.
Using 1st Formations
Alex: We found 1st Formations because we wanted to start our own business and simply didn’t know where to look. We started at Companies House, and it looked incredibly confusing. We didn’t really know what to do. We found an article on the 1st Formations website which said ‘this is what you do’ and so we did it! It was an incredibly easy process, and we still use some of the 1st Formations products today.
Ben: I think when we were forming a company, we didn’t really understand how that process worked, so we were trying to find blog articles. We decided to use 1st Formations because we came across some of their blog articles which were quite helpful in explaining how you form the company. Although it was confusing on some websites, we found on 1st Formations it was almost like booking a holiday or buying something from Amazon – it was quite a familiar process which put us at ease. We also saw that 1st Formations is a Carbon Neutral Business, which aligned with a lot of our sustainability values.
The company formation process
Alex: We found it an incredibly easy process to start our company. From the articles that we read, it seemed incredibly daunting, but I think 1st Formations had a clear system and clear plans for which route you wanted to take. So, we investigated, purchased the plan and went ahead with it.
Ben: We found it an easy process to form our company with 1st Formations, because they were really helpful in terms of the chat support and being able to contact them, which made us feel at ease with the process. The actual way you form the company on their website is quite an explanatory process that really helped us.
1st Formations today
Alex: We still use the Registered Office Address Service with 1st Formations. We work in a lot of coworking spaces, and we needed a registered office as part of the drink that needs to be labelled on the bottle. So, for legal reasons we keep the Registered Office Address Service from 1st Formations, and we’ll continue to do so.
Ben: As the company grows and the structure becomes more complex, we’re confident we can start utilising more of the services that 1st Formations offers, because there’s a lot more things that will be useful for us going forward in the future.