29 April 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
From investment banking and blue chip companies to founding their own drinks brand – we caught up with Kerstin Robinson and Julia Kessler to discover how they made the transition, what the journey has been like, and hear about any top tips they can share.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
We both worked in the corporate world before starting Nix & Kix – Kerstin worked in investment banking and Julia in Operations for big blue chip companies.
We founded Nix & Kix because we couldn’t find any great tasting refreshing drinks that were not full of sugar or artificial ingredients. So we experimented with different ingredients and came across spices as a great way to enhance the taste of a drink without the need for added sugars or sweeteners. We launched our drinks range in 250ml cans, 330ml and 750ml glass bottles in 2017.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
On nights out we didn’t want to drink alcohol and the non-alcoholic options were either bland or full of unhealthy ingredients.
How did you achieve awareness?
Our initial focus was distribution rather than awareness, as there was not much point getting people to find out about the brand and then not being able to buy it. Now that we are stocked through ca. 7,500 distribution points across the UK and Europe it makes a lot more sense to create awareness. We achieve that mostly with in-store activations and digital campaigns.
What are the key successes?
There were quite a few! Being stocked at most of the major supermarkets (in some we have been stocked for almost four years) including Tesco, Waitrose, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons – and from this summer – Co-op.
But we also managed to diversify our customer base. We are stocked in restaurants like Nando’s and Loungers, food service, convenience stores and online through our own website and Amazon.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
There were quite a lot of challenges – finding a manufacturer, great ingredient suppliers, investors and then of course customers! To be successful you need to stay persistent and have a lot of patience too. Especially larger supermarket chains will take their time to respond and even if they agree to stock the product it might take another six months until the product then actually hits the shelves.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We have big plans for the brand – increasing our distribution in the UK by focusing on the convenience sector and expanding into other strategic markets such as the US and Germany.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Starting is the most important step – and this can be as small as just making a small batch of products and then selling them at a local farmers market on the weekend. The first iteration will never be the final product. Accept that there will need to be changes made (with branding/recipes..) along the way as you find more about customer needs and interests, as well as manufacturing constraints. Just embrace the process and take every change as an opportunity to improve and grow the business.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Don’t be shy to ask for help from people that have done it before
- Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to the quality of the product – in food and drink the taste is the most important factor so make sure you get that right before you spend lots of money on branding etc.
- Test in smaller steps (depending on the product D2C is a great for acquiring customers and learning about them and what they like about the product)
- Persistence is key when dealing with larger supermarket buyers
- Most things will take 2-3 times as long as you think they do so factor this in when you look at your cash flow
- Try to focus – what’s your key occasion for the product, who would buy this and why. Try to be as specific as possible as this will make marketing, selling etc a lot easier and more efficient
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
@nixandkix – on Twitter and Instagram