• Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Emily Fitchett, and I’m the founder of FITCH Brew Co; a disruptive ready to drink coffee brewery who’s simple mission is to challenge people’s conventional attitudes and habits towards coffee.
• What is your brand philosophy and how does it give you a competitive advantage?
At FITCH we focus on 3 factors: Innovation, passion and knowledge. Our uncompromising attitude towards everything we do enables us to be focused on our mission and deliver new, exciting and disruptive products that enable us to stay ahead of our competition.
• What customer-centric strategies do you use and why?
Absolutely everything we do at FITCH is customer centric and I believe nowadays that’s the way all companies have to be. Because we are building a new category we are trying to carve out a demographic of cold brew drinkers, so everything we do is around understanding our consumers and then building strategies on how to engage and sell to them.
• What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your business and how did you overcome it?
I think for me that on a personal level, being able to deal with the emotional rollercoaster that is being a startup is a huge challenge. I’ve learnt to try to put things in perspective a bit more and appreciate when things are going well and learn from when things aren’t going well. Someone once told me the challenge was in the change, and I think that couldn’t be more true about being a startup where your environment is constantly changing. Within the business it’s been around developing a new category in the UK. Cold Brew Coffee is in its very early stages in the UK so for us there has been a huge focus on educating the consumer around the product. A lot of our marketing material is based around the benefits of the product and how you consume it. We also work closely with our distribution partners and customers to train their staff about the product and why it is so different.
• What inspired the launch of your business?
I’ve always known I wanted to run my own business, it was just a matter of what that would be. It was narrowed down after I fell in love with the drinks industry as I then knew I wanted to launch my own drinks product. It was then on a trip to the states, where I first discovered Cold Brew, that I saw the gap in the UK market and felt that with my experience and passion for both coffee and the drinks sector I could make it a great success in the UK. I immediately quit my job and FITCH Brew Co was born.
• What is the number one factor in your business success?
I believe our team is our biggest asset. The great thing about being a startup is that you can be reall selective about who you bring on board. As a leader, it’s vital for me to understand my strengths but more importantly my weaknesses. This enables me to bring people into the business who have the skill set I don’t. We have achieved this with great success at FITCH, developing a team who’s skill set really complement each other.
• Describe your business model and what makes your business unique?
We produce everything in house so that we can ensure quality, scale quickly and easily work on NPD. We then align with distributors so we can maintain a lean operation, by utilising their sales teams and reach it also allows us to scale quicker and get the most efficiency out of our time as a small team. As a company we are trying to create a new category in the UK ready to drink coffee market by pushing the boundaries and versatility of coffee and change traditional perceptions.
• Explain your growth-funding path?
We are less than a year in to trading so are still very early stage in our business but in order to get us going properly we took to crowdfunding via the online platform CrowdCube. I was really sceptical about crowdfunding for FITCH to begin with as at that stage we were basically still a concept. We actually ended up having an incredible run where we managed to raise £150,000 (50% over our target) in 29 hours. CrowdCube is an equity based platform so in return for investment we gave equity in FITCH.
• What technology has made the greatest difference to your business?
VE Commerce has certainly made a huge difference to us. Being a startup your cash flow is extremely tight and so you tend not to have heaps of money to be able to spend on getting products easily in front of people. At FITCH we used the online platform shopify to build a website which has a built in shop function. It’s been incredibly easy to set up, use and operate all whilst being extremely cost efficient. It’s ability to integrate into other systems such as accounting and fulfilment yields greater operational efficiency.
• What future advancements do you foresee in your market and how are you preparing for them?
The world we are living in is becoming more and more focused on convenience and so consumers are looking for more and more options within the grab and go sector. With a huge focus now also being on healthier, low sugar, and environmentally friendly options. For FITCH it will be important to play into these growing areas by bringing new and innovative ready to drink coffee options to the consumer. By being aware of the trends and growing categories and constantly analysing the market it should allow us to stay one step ahead.
• What’s your favourite business book?
There are so many. I actually really like one I read recently called Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (founder of nike), because he talks about actually how difficult it is in the beginning, something which I think people don’t shine enough light on. On a side note I really love the How I built this podcast series by Guy Raz…it’s kept me going on many a long car journey.
• How could you become a better leader?
I’m constantly learning every day and believe as long as I stay aware of everything going on around me and seek to understand more then I will naturally grow. By surrounding myself with great people I believe I can become a better leader. As John Maxwell puts it “Leaders become great, not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others”.
• What will you discuss in your BIO2018 presentation?
I will talk about the FITCH journey to date, our incredible crowdfunding campaign and my thoughts on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. I will try to be brutally honest about the day to day challenges facing early stage startups, our successes to date and what I believe our path will be over the next couple of years.
• Who is the Target Audience for your BIO2018 presentation?
I think anyone who is interested in what it’s like to be an early stage startup and all the ups and downs that come with that as well as any businesses considering crowdfunding as their next funding option/ anyone generally interested in the crowdfunding model.