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Adventures of a start-up part 6: supply shortages, uncooperative banks, and additions to the yoghurt family

It’s amazing how much can happen in just a couple of weeks. We’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster – here’s the highs and lows.

Coconut supply shortage

Our coconut cream supplier in Indonesia wasn’t prepared for the growth we’ve had in the last few weeks, so for a couple of days it looked like we might not have the level of supply we needed until late May! Mr Coconut and I went into solution-finding-mode – we looked into air-freight which was hideously expensive, and then seriously considered hiring some sort of speedboat to go get it ourselves. We managed to work something out – phew – but it felt a little touch and go for a while there. One of the challenges of being a new business is predicting our future order levels; it makes accurate stock forecasting difficult.

Banks are bollocks

How is any new business meant to grow when banks won’t lend you money until you have a year's worth of financial statements to show them? We have found banks pretty difficult to deal with unfortunately, so have been exploring other options for financing our new yoghurt kitchen.

Crowd-funding

This was one possible route. The guys from Fundnation contacted us and came down to Raglan for a coffee and chat. It’s an interesting proposition … you have two options, either a rewards-based campaign or an equity campaign. We ruled out equity at this stage as if we were to take on an investor we’d want someone who brought more than just money to the table – they’d need skills or connections that would help us grow. Rewards-based sounded like a good option; nice and straight-forward. People pledge money in exchange for a reward, which could be product or something else. There is a considerable time investment though into running a successful crowd-funding campaign, and we need the money yesterday, not in two months so we’ve decided to give crowd-funding a miss this time around and talk to private investors instead.

More yoghurters join the family

We’ve got two new yoghurt helpers as part of the crew – another lovely couple here in Raglan have come on to help us with production, so we’ve been doing training with them. We've also been busily hunting around for people to help with running taste-testing events in Auckland. Taste-testing seems to be a important part of getting the word out there, we’ve found that once people try it they’re happy to buy a big jar of yoghurt – otherwise it’s a decent amount of money to spend on something you haven’t tried before. Taste-testing takes that hesitation away. We have three people lined up to trial for the role, fingers crossed that at least one of them is a winner!

Highs:

  • Supermarket News featuring us in their Artisan section
  • HEAPS of new stockists – we’re now in Kerikeri, Nelson, Te Aroha, Te Awamutu, Gisborne, and Whakatane
  • Having some amazing food bloggers use our yoghurt in their recipes
  • Getting the taste-testing network going … we have our first tasting happening in Wellington this weekend in collaboration with CHIA
  • All the people who have sent us messages, pictures, and words of encouragement over the past couple of weeks. Really means a lot!

Lows:

  • Stressing over coconut supply
  • Box of yoghurts going missing on a shipping run – sent off into oblivion never to be seen again
  • Having to wait for things you want to happen immediately (funding, new kitchen, etc); I guess patience is a good virtue to practice ;-).