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Botanica founders offer fresh advice – Breakfast with an Entrepreneur

Botanica’s Richard Magney and Nadia Watson speaking at a recent Breakfast with an Entrepreneur event

Global companies like Qantas and the major grocery chains are becoming more attracted to the nimbleness and versatility of small business, according to Co-founder of Botanica cold pressed juice company, Nadia Watson.

Speaking at our recent Breakfast with an Entrepreneur event, Nadia and her partner Richard Magney believe that companies such as Coles, Woolworths and Costco are “more than willing to work with small business offering quality products” because of their flexibility.

“Big food companies can’t change their manufacturing processes – they are so set and regimented. They can’t try new technology or a new recipe because they are just too large. I would say to any small business, don’t be afraid to call the big players. If they say ‘no’ now, they will be calling you later,” Nadia said.

Around 60 small businesses gathered at the breakfast in September to network and hear the pair discuss how they started their cold pressed juice business in 2013 after quitting their jobs in commercial banking and law.

They told the attentive audience that the huge drive in today’s society towards healthier foods without additives or preservatives and manufactured using high pressure processing was also opening opportunities for smaller players.

“This is the fastest growing technology. Major players including Coke, Pepsi, Unilever and Starbuck are all moving from heat pasteurisation of juice to high pressure processing. All the major players are looking for fresh, natural food and beverage products. I think we are going to see a huge growth in this country,” Richard said.

Botanica is taking advantage of this trend investing in high pressure machinery and expanding into food products.

According to Nadia, as they only use Australian fruit and vegetables, they have decided to move their operations to regional NSW to cut transport costs and to work more closely with local farmers to ensure they “grow what we need”.

In order to attract government funding and private investors, they are also exploring ways of working with other food manufacturers and export opportunities for the US and Asian market.

In just three years, they secured major suppliers including Qantas and Harris Farm Markets and established a company with a predicted turnover of over $4 million this year.

Other interesting insights from Nadia and Richard included:

  • Don’t expect to get your product right first go and be bold in asking for advice if someone has information that will help your business grow.

“When we first started, we didn’t have the product that we have now. It was originally an unpasteurised juice in a glass jar with a four-day shelf life. We changed formulations and switched to plastic packaging. We went through six months of real pain to tweak our product,” Nadia said.

  • Because of limited finances, they focused on ‘marketing through being accessible’ rather than on campaigns and materials.

“In the first two to three years we invested time, effort and money into making sure that when a customer walked into a café, our products were always visible and well-stocked,” Richard said.

  • Resilience and a love for your product are the top necessities for an entrepreneur.

“It is actually not skills that are the key – you can rent the skills you need at the right time. It all comes down to how much you desire to win. You may not always love your business but if you love your product you will have that will to win,” Richard said.

  • When working in a partnership don’t make decisions quickly or lightly. As both personal and professional partners, Richard and Nadia say they don’t always agree and ‘interrogate” each other’s business decisions to ensure the best result.

“If we always agreed with each other we would fail,” Richard said.

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