Adventures of a start-up Part 9 – Road tripping, food for the soul and how to keep a jar of yoghurt cool at the beach

A look at the latest victories, frustrations and insights of the Raglan Coconut Yoghurt company.

If you’re reading these updates – thank you! It’s been encouraging getting emails from people who like hearing about our journey. Here’s the latest …

Dave the Microbiologist joins the team

We’re both no food scientists. We knew how to make great yoghurt but didn’t understand all the invisible details of what was going on under the microscope. So we knew we needed to find a person with that knowledge to join our team. We started working with Dave from Lowry Food Consulting a few months ago, and recently invited him to join our board. We were chuffed he accepted as it has been absolutely invaluable having a real-deal food scientist on our team! His testing meant we could confidently increase our shelf life from 3 weeks to 4 weeks, and he’s given us heaps of tips with how to improve batch consistency and tick all the food-safety boxes. You’re awesome Dave.

Girl on a Journey

I was starting to feel a bit stressed out the other week. I’m sure any business owner can relate to the feeling of not having enough down time because there’s always things that need doing, and also getting frustrated with what isn’t working or isn’t progressing as fast as you’d like (i.e. securing finance for our own kitchen!).  

So when I saw that Girl on a Journey were coming to Hamilton I really wanted to go for a burst of inspiration! It was harder than you’d think getting to the event – in fact, almost ten minutes before leaving it looked like I wouldn’t make it since Rosie the Van was required for yoghurt-related missions and that’s our only vehicle. But the universe came through and I was so glad I got the opportunity to hear from these three inspiring ladies (Makaia from Motivate Me, Libby from Julia & Libby, and Millie Elder-Holmes from Clean Eatz NZ). They’ve all pushed through some pretty massive personal and business challenges and came out stronger for it. Sitting there listening to their stories made me determined to not let the tough days get me down, and was also a good reminder to take care of myself – not always prioritising work over self-care.

Image: Commonsense cauliflower salad recipe

RCY goes on a roadie

We’ve become super close with our team of yoghurt helpers, they’re all fantastic people and there’s laughter and lots of singing going on while we brew yoghurt together. For a couple of weeks now we’d been saying it was time for a roadie, so when Mr. Coconut & I were invited to attend the annual Bin Inn conference in Mt Maunganui, that seemed like a good reason to hit the road with our surfboards for a little adventure. We hiked to a remote beach and camped out for the night, cooking our dinner and breakfast over the fire (amazing! Gotta love that smoky taste), and visited our stockist Farm Gate Deli in Waihi Beach for lunch. Big Yoghi came along for the adventure and we discovered that burying a jar of yoghurt in the sand keeps it nice and cold, like an outdoor fridge!

Meeting all the Bin-Inners

We enjoyed popping into the Bin Inn conference, which was a great opportunity to have all the store owners taste our yoghurt. Feedback was positive, people really liked the taste and also that we’re local. We had a number of store owners place their first orders, which we shipped off this week.

One thing we realised from going along to this event is that we could use some more ‘stage presence’ – other suppliers had big banners, fancy boards, props, customised tablecloths etc. It’s all time and money to organise, but Mr. Coconut is now coming up with creative ways he can recycle materials to create a fun stand for us.

On the finance front …

We had two important meetings last week – one with a bank, one with a potential investor – and are looking forward to getting confirmation as to whether they’re able to help us with our new kitchen. Our fingers and toes are crossed! The plans are nearly ready and we’re keen to give the green light on the build.

Highlights:

  • Only one jar breakage in the last four shipping runs – yay! The new method of inlays and dividers seems to be working
  • Getting away from our computers for a camping adventure with our yoghurteers
  • New stockists – we shipped to 7 new stores this week
  • Meeting lots of really cool food-people at different events – The Honest Food Co, Love Cake, Yum Granola, The Kefir Company, Be Nourished, NuZest and a bunch of others have all been great to chat with and swap tips and experience

Challenges:

  • Putting together awesome marketing material on a tight budget
  • Securing finance so we can keep to our timeline for the new kitchen build
  • Getting our packaging bomb-proof to entirely eliminate breakages​