In Episode 1, I mentioned how working for James at GÜ had a real impact on my career – teaching me to think laterally, to really understand the commercial side of food business, and learning how to use very few resources to get maximum growth-impact. But maybe most importantly, I felt first hand what it means to have an obsession with product – the product delivery, or product promise. Of all the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with across the past 10 years, I would say that James’ obsession and focus on product is matched only to Hamdi Ulukaya’s at Chobani in the USA.
James founded GÜ Puds in 2003… and sold it in 2010 for £32m. In 2014 he launched The Coconut Collaborative, a vegan yogurt company that is seeing 50% growth year on year and has just last week taken the huge step of manufacturing their first yogurt in the USA!
Listen to Episode 7 for our interview earlier this week where James talks about the key drivers underpinning the transformational growth he has experienced in both businesses.
Episode 7 Timestamps:
[00:28] – Introducing today’s guest, CEO and founder of The Coconut Collaborative (and formerly of Gü Chocolate Puds), James Averdieck.
[01:30] – James has grown Gü Chocolate Puds into a business worth £32 million sterling and transformed what consumers expect from chilled deserts in the process. Upon launching the Coconut Collaborative in 2014 he has seen even greater growth still. What does he attribute this to?
[02:24] – With consumer’s increasing interest in plant-based foods, is the timing right for a business offering plant-based products?
[03:40] – James has an impressive ability to develop food businesses internationally. We learn more about his international expansion with The Coconut Collaborative.
[06:11] – Where does The Coconut Collaborative stand in terms of total market sales?
[07:12] – Previously James has been reluctant to go to the US. What has made him change his mind?
[08:09] – The US can be quite a challenging market for smaller companies. What are the key barriers for expanding to the US?
[09:40] – The Coconut Collaborative has a team in the US now which has been operating for just over a year and they are seeing strong sales velocities.
[11:06] – Why is James so utterly focused on the product? Is product obsession a requirement for an up and coming brand? He discusses product quality, what’s coming up with The Coconut Collaborative’s products and advertising as a small brand.
[13:54] – To understand what is going on in the market James and his team like to sample all their competitive products.
[15:01] – Is this a category where private label will be able to compete? What are the advantages and disadvantages of private label? James shares what he believes will be the challenges for The Coconut Collaborative.
[17:52] – James has a great ability of thinking around challenges and problems in a totally different way to other people. From a great team to a quality product, James shares what he believes are the keys to success in this business.
[21:09] – In hindsight, which business decisions would James make differently? He explains why focus is so important.
[22:04] – What is next for The Coconut Collaborative?