Anita Rae is the Founder and CEO of Manchester/Ibiza based start-up Crave Drinks. Crave is a precise balance of natural and functional ingredients, expertly blended to help health-conscious consumers to stay energised while supporting their immune system.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
My background is very international, born in Finland, studied in Sweden, and lived in many countries ranging from China to Spain, where I spend most of my time at the moment growing our international presence. And obviously enjoying the sun! This international background runs through our entire organisation reflecting a born-global thinking in everything we do.
I have always worked for large corporations before starting my entrepreneurial journey, and never really thought about starting on own business until Crave was born out of a personal desire and discovering a problem that needed to be solved. Now I can’t think of anything else, despite the fact that running a very early start-up and especially during these challenging times that has required extreme resilience and flexibility. But I feel very proud for launching a great product during these difficult times and being able to grow the business.
Our product, Crave Natural Energy is precise balance of natural ingredients and vitamins, expertly blended to help health-conscious consumers stay sharp and energised while supporting their immune system. Our innovative cocktail-inspired flavours deliver a totally new taste experience while being vegan friendly, sugar free and delicious!
How did the idea come to you for the company?
My previous job within sport nutrition combined with a great passion for music often meant plenty of late nights and early mornings and while trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and never managing to find a perfect source of energy for those times. The old fashioned and sugary beverages didn’t fill the desire I had during those hours and often resulted into sipping a beverage that I ultimately didn’t want.
I noticed that many people were looking for a similar product and the idea for Crave was born. I wanted to create something that was not only tasty but also a functional, healthy beverage.
How did you achieve awareness?
Being drunk has never been as out of fashion as it is now. Young consumers are glued on social media, sharing their every key moment with their friends and family. Meanwhile the fitness trend has been growing rapidly during the past decade and have had a positive impact on young people’s consumption habits and way of life. Fitness has become mainstream creating high demand for healthier products containing less alcohol, sugar, and artificial ingredients.
We target this audience on social media through my own contact network and approached influencers and other gatekeepers to share the brand among their followers. In addition, we are actively conversating with leading publications regarding the latest developments in the functional drink category.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Crave was originally self-funded to launch the first product in 2019, however I raised external funds from investors during the past two years. I have a wonderful network around the world and managed to find individuals who believed in me and the product in very early stages and who continue support the business both financially and by proving excellent business advice.
What are the key successes?
For me it really boils down to resilience and believing in your own vision. Even though we are slowly approaching ‘the light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel’, it’ll take months or even years to get back to the pre-pandemic market conditions. Many businesses from start-ups to multinationals have been forced to adjust to lower revenue, higher costs, reduced staff and weaker morale.
Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from the changing external conditions. As an entrepreneur, lack of stability is something you have to get to learn to live with. Some events are more life-changing like the pandemic, while others are smaller, like losing a key customer or dealing with a difficult manufacturer. When you really believe in your own vision and yourself, and you can see the challenges as opportunities, everything starts to change.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
2020 was supposed to be an incredible year for Crave, but in early March I realised that the situation was only going to get worse and therefore had to put the brakes on for all of our plans. We had booked a production for the Spring with a long list of customers lined up in the UK and Spain for the summer. This included some of the leading festivals and night clubs with hundreds of thousands of guests combined. Due to Covid-19 restrictions none of these operators were able to open, which meant an enormous loss of revenue for us.
Postponing the product launch gave me more time to be creative, which meant that we slightly reformulated the products to contain vitamin C for immunity support and updated packaging to become more retail friendly. Again, this showed how important resilience and flexibility is when you encounter challenges and roadblocks. Now I look at 2022 and beyond more optimistic than ever before and it’s time to execute the strategy I have set for the business.
What are your plans now/for the future?
The business is really starting to kick off this year and I have a lot to prove to myself and the other stakeholders. We are bringing out our new and improved flavours and branding this month and I believe it’s going to get busy from here! Our goal is to finally be able to launch properly during 2022 into hospitality and retail in the UK, drive our e-commerce channels, and continue exporting into several European countries while entering Middle East later this year.
One of our core values is “We never stand still”, and the past two years have definitely shown how agile the business can be. I will be looking into further funding later this year as well to drive our growth further.
My goal is the make Crave the first choice for a natural functional energy drink when you crave for something delicious!
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
It has not been the easiest few years starting my own company, but it has been the most exciting, developing, and fun journey of my life so far. Running my own business allows me to really focus on something that I’m extremely passionate about and share that with the world. Now really is the best time to start your own company; you can reach out to the global marketplace from the comfort of your own home, keep operating costs small and use technology to expand in the post-pandemic world.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Make sure you are solving a problem
It is very important to create a business that solves a problem. The problem you solve does not need to be very complicated, but you have to know what you are trying to achieve and accomplish with your business. When you and your team know the problem inside out, it will become much easier to market your idea to your potential customers.
- Take advantage of your network
Utilising your network may result to finding your first investor, a new customer or a key supplier. It is also a great source for support, inspiration and new ideas. Attending start-up and industry events will both widen your contact network and also create awareness for your business among relevant business leaders.
- Put your customer first
Customers are your most important assets. They offer key insight to your business that can only be observed from the outside. Observe, listen and adapt your offering based on this valuable feedback.
- Make sure to take care of yourself
Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, but do not forget about yourself along the way. Running a business easily takes over your life, but you have to remind yourself that there is more to life than just work. With a healthy mind and a healthy body, you will be able to make better decisions.
- Believe in yourself and just do it!
You will be the biggest enemy of your success by overthinking, doubting and questioning your decision-making. You will make mistakes, things will get tough and there will be a lot of sleepless nights – but guess what it’s all worth it!
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Sanna Marin – Prime Minister of Finland, she is the youngest person to hold the office in Finnish history and has done a tremendous job during the most challenging times.
Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Meta Platforms (Facebook), she has had an impressive career in tech and has shown true resilience for decades.
Dominic McGregor – Founding Partner at Fearless Adventures (also co-founder of Social Chain), he created one of the leading social media enterprises from young age while being a strong mental health advocate.
Emma Watson – Actress, she uses her wide network and reach to be an advocate for many important issues such as gender equality.
Sir David Attenborough – Biologist and author, he doesn’t really need an introduction, his life work is there to prove how important it is for us to consider sustainability and environment.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Living the life I’ve chosen”
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
Instagram – @cravedrinks
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cravedrinks
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