Fridges, shipping, and other nightmares

Starts up run into a zillion challenges, and every day you ride a new learning curve, as founders of Raglan Coconut Yoghurt are finding.

Our little startup Raglan Coconut Yoghurt is growing, fast. We’re discovering that there are many challenges to scaling a food product business, and we’re trying to tackle them one by one.

Examples:

  • How do you successfully brew such large quantities of yoghurt?
  • How do you incubate such large quantities of yoghurt?
  • How do you chill such large quantities of yoghurt?
  • How do you transport such large quantities of yoghurt? (we quickly discovered our surf van Rosie isn’t equipped for the job when we broke the bed base and gave her a flat tyre transporting coconut equipment recently!)

It’s interesting being at the small-but-big-potential end of the spectrum where suppliers and logistics companies can’t quite take you seriously enough yet to give you good rates. Things only get affordable when you’re hitting serious quantities, but interim solutions need to be found in order to grow to reach those sorts of numbers. Classic chicken-egg situation.

We’ve been passed from one shipping company to the next due to our relatively small quantities. If we were shipping a pallet load direct to a supermarket, awesome, but 30 jars to a café? Not so keen.

This week’s Raglan Coconut Yoghurt highs …

  • Sell out weeks at two new Hamilton stockists – Village Organics and Two Birds Eatery
  • Being contacted by KiwiReviews and Green Ideas to feature us
  • Buying a big-ass fridge in Auckland!
  • Ordering insulated boxes to keep the yoghurts snug while incubating
  • Seeing light at the end of the tunnel for label application – we have a couple of options to investigate so we can stop doing it by hand
  • Eating buttermilk waffles with our coconut yoghurt at The Shack Café … so good!

Major learnings:

  • Double, triple, quadruple check your labels before printing hundreds of them – we neglected to put the obvious ‘Keep Refrigerated’ on them
  • Don’t buy cheap chilly bins on sale at Briscoes – the lids don’t stay shut and you’ll end up having to do complicated things with towropes and anchoring the handle to your drink bottle holder for transporting them on delivery day
  • Gatekeepers don’t know what they’re talking about … go direct to the person in charge if you get a ‘No we can’t do that/help you with that/that’s not possible’ to your enquiry
  • Ask for help. The local Super Value agreed to share their chiller room with us, yay!
  • Be careful with mixing your brand – to start with, we included the S&T logo from our digital agency business on our top labels, but have now started phasing that out so people don’t confuse one business with the other.