Lessons Learnt From Trying – Part 9

The taste of running a business was simply too good to let go, however I still had to finish my second year of uni & the time was approaching which I’ve dreaded the most throughout my whole education. EXAMINATION.

Until receiving a place at university, I had never finished an exam. From Secondary to College, and once I found out that I was dyslexic I became quite bitter towards the whole education system which made my life as well as my madres a complete nightmare. Continuous threats of expulsion for poor performance in school was something I was used too, especially throughout college. I’m very proud that I managed to complete a “Higher Eduaction” even though there isn’t 1min of lectures I can say taught me anything worth knowing. My completion of university is thanks to Youtube.

YOU CAN LEARN ANYTHING ON YOUTUBE.

— Franklin Baeza – 2013

Whilst at college I told my business teacher that a relaxation drink would destroy the energy drink market market share. I’m yet to prove him wrong in saying it would be impossible. With the idea looming in my head in the background, it was inevitable that I would have to attempt to prove a doubter wrong.

Crunch time was approaching, and instead of making the same mistake I made the year before, I started to drink relaxing teas rather than ridiculously high sugar content energy drinks. These teas ranged from lemonbalm, cammomile, hibiscus, passion flower, valerian root, StJohns Wort and others. They were working for me and I drank them by the litre over my exam period. During this state of relaxation, I experimented with blends, testing them on colleagues at the Brooklyn Brothers where I had spent a 3 month internship, this was thanks to a mentor & now close friend Matt Bamford-Bowes. He then got me in touch with Andy Battman, the guy that taught me a shit ton about how hard business is, in the FMCG sector. 

Having naively pitched my idea to family & friends, with no experience of raising money, it became very apparent that my vision of becoming a drink sold at bars and in stores was going to require a ton of capital. However once my internship and summer holidays where over, I moved into a new student house in Bournemouth and got started right away. First came the herbs & leaves, then the equipment and finally the bottles. It was an expensive process just as expected. I don’t think I ever took a record of my expenditure but I’m going to guess with the additional cost of a stand at the Bournemouth university freshers fair it came to £500. 

The bottles looked like this:

With help from flatmates, I managed to get over 150 bottles prepped for the fair, when it came to the day, I had brought along some old Finc stock to try and raise a bit of capital. There was a great buzz around my stall, freshers where asking a ton of questions but no-one realised it was a drink at first. I tried to sell these 400ml bottles for £1 which I thought was very reasonable. I probably sold 10. The rest I had to give away,  Relentless, Dominoes and Bulmers were chucking freebies at everyone so why I thought I could charge at this event is beyond me.

Once the fair was over I took some time to reflect on the scalability of the idea, the time it took me to produce the drinks, the logistics in moving them and then not selling one bottle had me realise it was probably for the best that no one had been stupid enough to invest in me. Valuable lessons were learnt including my skills on Adobe suite which I had to improve to cut costs on designers. These are the first “Ads” I designed myself. I’m glad to say my skills have vastly improved.

I do believe the idea will work one day and have been glad to see the rise of Marleys Mellow Mood [Paving the distribution path with New Age Beverage Corp], it’s also quite flattering to see the use of Stevia by Coca-cola. I’m non apologetic for pointing out the fact I used it in my drinks before them.  There are some ingredients soon to be legalised that could have a huge impact on the industry.

Once Frankie Says Relax was no longer in the pipeline, I was in a position where I wanted to complete university and focus on getting a job. In November 2013 I became aware of a graduate recruitment website called Milkround, and found a very interesting “Business Development Manager” role at a fintech mobile payment startup called Droplet. This was my introduction to the wonderful world of tech.