August 22, 2017 blog

'We used social media for all our first contacts'

Every year Tata partners with the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs on the Varsity Pitch, a competition for ground-breaking student and graduate start-ups. In the most recent Varsity Pitch one of our finalists was Double Dutch Drinks. One year later we caught up with them to see how their business is developing and find out what advice they would give to future entrepreneurs

What is Double Dutch Drinks and how did you come into being?

Double Dutch is a multi-award winning mixer brand which we created to disrupt the drinks market. We are passionate about flavour pairing and we have developed unique recipes, presenting unexpected and creative combinations.

Being originally from the Netherlands, it's perhaps no surprise that we have always enjoyed a good quality drink. There is such a huge variety in gin and other spirits, yet we have always been quite frustrated by the choice of mixers. While spirits have become more experimental — with the use of different botanicals — mixers have remained very limited.

That's why we decided to start experimenting with making our syrups and sodas — with friends, family and house party guests being our early taste testers. At university, making our own mixers became a passion and we became more and more reluctant to use the mainstream / low-quality mixers served next to a delicious bottle of gin.

While researching how to develop soft drinks, we came across the technique of flavour pairing — and this was really the turning point for our business. We discovered that we wanted to experiment with different flavours and ingredients and we didn´t want to be limited to what was already in the market. We felt compelled to come up with innovative mixers and flavours and that´s how we created our first mixers: cucumber and watermelon and pomegranate and basil.

How has the business grown since the Varsity Pitch competition?

It has been a busy time for us with the launch of three new products — cranberry tonic, ginger beer and soda water — with great customer feedback. We have also hired a team —for sales, marketing, finance and operation — and ambassadors, and have completed a second round of investment. We now feel we're in a good position to grow further and share our wonderful drinks with more and more people.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?

  • Starting with a co-founder not only halves the workload, it also doubles the fun. As sisters, it's never awkward if we disagree. We can bring each other up if the other is down and we complement each other in every task. 
  • It is important to launch your product as soon as you have something, even if it is not yet perfect. It’s better to get feedback while testing products in the market as you will quickly learn what your customers actually want.
  • We didn’t grow up in England and didn´t have a large network in the food and beverages industry, so we used social media for all our first contacts. We used LinkedIn a lot in the beginning — to find customers, advisors and also investors. We approached a lot of people in the industry; surprisingly many of them were open to have a coffee with us and that is how we found all our investors in the first round.

 

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