Joyce and Raissa de Haas are the co-founders and co-CEOs of premium tonic and mixers brand, Double Dutch. The vibrant young founders have forged an inspiring career, with their delicious flavour variations making ripples in the drinks industry.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Double Dutch is a premium soft drinks brand offering a range of tonics and mixers that are both a refreshing soft drink and a lively mixer to enhance any spirit. We currently have thirteen flavours on offer, five of which are stocked at Soho House globally, we’re actually their exclusive tonic partner.
Joyce and I are originally from the Netherlands, we then moved to London to complete our MSc. in Technology Entrepreneurship at University College London, where we devoted our joint dissertation to finding a solution for our frustrations in the drinks industry.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
The concept of creating a drinks brand was ingrained in us from an early age. Our parents owned a licensed garden where they would invite all our neighbours and friends over weekly for gin and tonics tasting. Being exposed to high-quality spirits throughout our formative professional years made us notice the room for opportunity within the market for more quality mixers.
We realised that we could create mixers that tasted better than other products available on the market, with unexpected flavour pairings, and without compromising on the overall sugar content and calorie count. The possibility and science behind the blends and molecular pairings inspired us to make our idea a reality.
How did you achieve awareness?
We initially focussed on raising awareness in the hospitality scene, by going from one bar to the next and introducing ourselves. We started our business in quite a niche segment and area, we started targeting 5* hotels in Mayfair, followed by cocktail bars and restaurants and eventually we targeted Soho House. We then began to grow our consumer market, through our presence in on-trade and direct consumer sales.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We raised investment quite early on in our journey, as we started straight after completing our masters degree we didn’t have much savings. However, our joint dissertation won the UCL Bright Ideas Fund and the Richard Branson Foodpreneur award inspired us to keep pushing forward. The Bright Ideas Fund gave us financial investment which went into Double Dutch’s first production lines and a year of free London office space.
What are the key successes?
One of the key elements to our business’ success is our passion, drive and enthusiasm, alongside our self belief and confidence in our ability to continue innovating within the F&B sector. The smooth running of the business is due to our amazing team that brings a wealth of skills to Double Dutch alongside our resilience when continuing to build our brand.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
One of the biggest challenges is the competition within the sector as it is dominated by lots of big players. However, it is also one of the biggest opportunities as we have the benefit of agility and innovation in the space where we can bring something new to the table.
Another big challenge we have faced over the last three years is covid with the majority of our business being on-trade. Being agile made us change our channel strategy to off-trade too which helped us to continue driving revenue. We are lucky to have an amazingly supportive range of internal and external stakeholders such as our investors and board members, but also our customers and suppliers. Due to this, we have been resilient enough to overcome the challenges, which we believe will definitely be an opportunity in the future.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Over the next 12 months we are working on some very exciting new products which will be launching this year. We are continuing to work on building a deeper distribution network in the UK. The hospitality industry remains our heartland, but we also want to develop our retail distribution so that customers can find us more easily and can get the restaurant experience at home. We are also building our European market with a focus on Benelux and expanding into Asia for the first time.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Our number one piece of advice when looking to start your own entrepreneurship journey would be to do it around something you love or are passionate about. There will be lots of sacrifices in your personal life, so at least do something you enjoy.
Secondly, don’t do it alone. Having a co-founder, mentor or someone close by you can always have access to or get to pick their brains as this will massively help. Sharing the highs is much more fun, but sharing the lows is also a lot easier to get through when there are two of you.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
When it comes to launching a new business, don’t wait years before you launch even if it might not be 100% right yet. For us, it was an advantage to start selling our product before being 100% market ready as this allowed us to take on feedback from our customers when it came to flavour, consistency and overall taste. A few months after launching, we slightly altered our recipes and completely rebranded the packaging, which showed our customers that we had taken on their feedback. This allows you to launch a product which not only you are happy with, but you know the consumer loves!
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/doubledutchdrinks/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/doubledutchdrinks
Website – https://doubledutchdrinks.com/
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