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Today my guest is Daniel Twiss from Soul Fruit, a company revolutionising dried fruit snacks. Soul Fruit makes new and exciting dried fruit snacks using the best quality tropical fruits simply dried into crunchy chips or chewy slices. Their flavours include fruits I have never tried – dragon fruit and jackfruit.

Daniel shares with us the riveting story of how he and his wife took their love for exotic fruits in Asia and transformed it into a successful business, despite having no prior background in food or retail. Their mission? To bring guilt-free, fun, and authentically delicious snacking experiences to the UK market, and maybe your taste buds as well.

We’ll dig into the perseverance required to break into retailers and online platforms like Amazon, how embracing sustainable practices and community giving sets their brand apart, and why focusing on single-ingredient, honest products might just be the key to winning over modern consumers. Whether you’re already selling products or just starting to shape your ideas, this episode offers tangible insights into the dedication, passion and can-do attitude needed to make your product stand out in a crowded market.

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USEFUL RESOURCES:

Soul Fruit Website

Soul Fruit Instagram

Soul Fruit Facebook

Soul Fruit Pinterest

Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation

Bread and Jam

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Transcript
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Welcome to the bring your product idea to Life podcast.

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This is the podcast for you if you're getting started selling products or if you'd

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like to create your own product to sell. I'm Vicki Weinberg, a product

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creation coach and Amazon expert. Every week I share friendly,

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practical advice as well as inspirational stories from small businesses.

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Let's get started.

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Hello. So today I'm talking to Daniel Twiss from Soul Fruit. So

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Soul Fruit makes new and exciting dried fruit snacks using the best quality

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tropical fruits simply dried into crunchy chips or chewy

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slices. So Daniel had so much passion for

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his products, which really comes across in this interview. I

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feel you'll feel it bursting into your ears with this passion for what he

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does. And he had so much practical advice to

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share with you as well. I personally found his story really inspirational.

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I think if you are looking to sell a product in the food

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space, this is an absolute must listen. But actually, a lot of Daniel's

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advice translates really well into any type of product.

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He speaks a lot about being authentic, about knowing your brand story

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and staying true to that. And I was really

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fascinated to hear that despite not having any background in retail

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or in food, how Daniel and his wife Natalie were able to

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overcome any obstacles, any things they weren't sure how to do, they

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really demonstrate a can do attitude, which I find really inspiring,

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and I hope that you do, too. So I would love now to introduce you

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to Daniel.

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So, hi, Daniel. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for

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having me on. Vicki. Great to be here. So can we please start with you?

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Give an introduction to yourself, your business, and what you sell. Hi, there. So,

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yeah, my name is Daniel Twiss, and I set up Soul Fruit with my wife,

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Natalie. And what we're trying to do, we're trying to make snacking simple

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again with our single ingredient, dried fruit snacks that are

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there to kind of satisfy all of your cravings, give you those little soulful moments

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of enjoyment that you look for when it's snacking, and just try to make every

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day a little bit more fun through snacking. That's great. Thank you. And

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just also tell everyone what fruits you have. Because I think one

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of the things that I think is quite unique about Soul Fruit is

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you have some fruit that not everyone else is selling. So

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tell us what fruits you have at the moment. Yeah, absolutely. So we

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think one of the issues within dried fruit snacking is there's just very little

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variety. A lot of people have tried your classic prunes, dates,

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apricots. Some of the kind of slightly more old school fruit, and then when it

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comes into more snacking format, there's dried mango, maybe a bit of

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dried pineapple, but that's kind of it. So what we're looking to do is try

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and really kind of grow the dried fruit category with kind of more interesting varieties.

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So we've got three fruits at the moment. We do do a mango, we do

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a jackfruit, and also a dragon fruit as well. Perfect.

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Thank you. And I would love to know what inspired you

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to get started with this. I know you mentioned that you wanted to change snacking,

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but what actually made you think, do you know what? I could actually start a

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business here. Yeah. So it was something that was kind of

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on my wife, Nat, and I's mind for several years, actually.

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It was kind of in the back burner, and then eventually we decided to kind

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of take the plunge. But basically, both nad and I both have quite

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a big sweet tooth and we're both just massive

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snackers. But whilst we were living in

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Asia and living in Sydney for several years, and one of the

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things that really kind of opened our eyes is just the amazing variety of

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tropical fruits that there are in the world. I'm a big, big

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lover of kind of fruit flavored and sweet tasting things,

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and it was just a really interesting experience of just trying all these different

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delicious, exotic fruits that I'd never, ever had before,

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trying to be a little bit healthier. We used to, back in the day, snack

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a lot on, like, percy pigs, haribos, all of your

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delicious tasting, but kind of the worst ingredients kind of snacks out

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there. And as we were trying to be a little bit more healthy, we were

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basically eating a lot more fresh fruit, dried fruit. I was

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even blending up fruit and freezing them, making into them ice lollies and

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things like that, just as a way of trying to kind of experiment in. As

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I said, we really loved snacking, so any different form we could kind of turn

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the fruit into was really, really exciting for us. So,

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yeah, we just spent a lot of time trying lots of these different fruits. And

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when we then came back to the UK on holiday a couple of times,

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we were always trying to retain those health turns that we've kind of

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done in our lives and not just diving straight back into our Percy pigs and

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so on. So we come back and we kind of go to the dried fruit

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section or look at the healthy snacks aisle and try to find something to kind

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of keep us going. But we just always found that in the UK, there was

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just a really limited variety of dried fruit.

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And even what's worse, a lot of it's got additives to it,

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sugar or it's yogurt coated, or it's got preservatives in

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it. And it wasn't really all that healthy anymore. So,

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yeah, we were just basically kind of in a bit of a position where

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we wanted to keep snacking on more dried fruit, but whenever we were back here,

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just never found enough satisfying options for

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us. So after a while, we kind of were like, there's definitely a gap

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in the market here, and it's something that we should

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do. I massively maintain to this day, this

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is the only business we would have ever set up. We weren't those people kind

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of looking to set up a business and then finding the right product for it.

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We just, through our lives and through our kind of own habits and trying to

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eat that bit healthier, kind of came across this gap and were

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really like, I think there's something we could do here. So that was kind of

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how the idea was born out. Took a couple of years of kind

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of nestling in the back of the mind before we actually really took the plunge

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and decided to go ahead and actually try and start the business. Oh, that's

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fascinating. Thank you. And as you were talking, I was reflecting on a few things.

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One is that you're right, actually, if you go to a dried fruit tile, even

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now, you do get a little bit more variety, but

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it's still sort of 95% of

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varieties of the same fruit. And also, I was thinking about the fact that I

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actually hadn't eaten a jackfruit or a dragon fruit until I tried your

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products. I've never eaten one fresh still to this day. So

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I think that's actually really exciting as well, that you're introducing people to different

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fruits and different flavors. Absolutely. And I think

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that we have the philosophy there are so many

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delicious, exotic tropical fruits in the world. Why don't we have

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more of them as dry fruit options? We're big believers in that

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nature knows best. And I think it's very, very hard to ever

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replicate or get nearly as good flavor as you get in nature.

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Passion fruit, mango, watermelon, dragon fruit.

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There are just so many wide ranging, exotic, delicious

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flavors. And part of what we want to do is exactly expose people to all

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these different tropical flavors that you wouldn't otherwise easily get in this

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country, or you'd be having to pay an absolute premium to kind of get your

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hands on. So that was really kind of a big part of the idea there.

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And I think we live in a world now where a lot more people

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have traveled a lot more and tried different cuisines, different flavors,

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different ingredients, and I think people are really excited by that.

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I know nad and I, whenever we go to a new country, we love going

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to kind of like markets, whether it is looking at the different kind of fruit

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and veg stands and so on, and trying to pick out and figure out what

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weird and wonderful fruits they've got, or whether it's just trying local cuisine.

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There's so much excitement that comes from those trying different flavors, and that's what

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we're trying to replicate and bring back to people here in the UK. Absolutely. And

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it is really exciting. And also, I can also say from personal experience, it's a

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really nice way to introduce children to other fruits. As you

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know, my children love your snacks. I imagine if I put a

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jackfruit in front of them, they might turn their nose up. But funnily enough, when

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it's dried, it's something that feels a lot more accessible. So I

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think that's really nice as well, because we're all trying to get variety into our

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own diets, our children's diets, and I think this is a nice way to do

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it. Absolutely. I think that

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snacking has that benefit to it, doesn't it? When things feel in

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those snackable textures or snackable formats. There's something very,

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very enticing and appealing about that, and there is psychologies and so on behind

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it. But I just think that ability to have something that

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tastes great, naturally sweet, because there's nothing added, but

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fruit just does provide that natural sweetness combined with all the nutrition

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and so on of fruit, but that just excitement and exotic flavors.

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Yeah. And just having it in a little bright packet just makes so much difference,

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doesn't it? Rather than giving someone a bit of raw

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fruit, for example, which, of course, is also a lovely way to enjoy fruit, but

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then, as you say, some of these more exotic fruits, they don't actually travel that

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well, and they travel a long way. Whereas in dried form, of course,

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that's something different. Yeah, absolutely.

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And I think that's one of the things that's really important for us, is we

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try to keep our snacks as close to nature as possible. But we absolutely

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agree that fresh fruit is probably the best thing that you can eat. It's just

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that challenge of getting a fresh dragon fruit, jackfruit, mango, or trying to eat a

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mango on the way to work or before the gym can sometimes be a little

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bit challenging. And that's why dried fruit works kind of really so well for

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that. But, yeah, I think exactly that ability

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to deliver those kind of snackable textures and snackable

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moments just makes it so much more of a kind of accessible and

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interesting snack. So it's really clear to me

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that you really knew what you wanted to achieve with your product.

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So talk a little bit through when you decided, okay, we're going to go ahead

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with this, because you mentioned you'd had the idea sort of bouncing around a couple

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of years. Was there something in particular that made you think, this is the right

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time to get started, or was it just, ok, we've been thinking about this

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long enough now let's do something about.

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I think. I think it was mean. So we previously lived in Hong Kong and

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Sydney, and then spent kind of six months in Vietnam. And

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it was essentially we were moving back to the UK. This was actually just before

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COVID We were planning on moving back, and we kind of had

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this idea in our minds for a long time. The thought

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of the different kind of fruits and different flavors and so on was always

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there. We kind of essentially wanted to be a bit Willy Wonka when it came

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to dried fruit. As we said, we walked around these different fruit markets,

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picking up every different kind of fruit we could, and then just seeing like, can

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we dry this? How can we dry it? What can we snacks can we make

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out of it? So it'd been there for quite a long time, but we

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decided to take the plunge when we were moving. Spent

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six months in Vietnam, traveling around, meeting all kinds

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of different fruit farmers, drying factories,

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really as many people as we could, which was quite an experience

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because neither Nat or I come from the industry.

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We're british, so we'd kind of turned up in Vietnam trying

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to message people, drive to factories. We met a few

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interesting characters along the way, I'll be honest. But,

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yeah, at the time, basically, we just kind of were trying to dry as many

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different exotic fruits and trying different ways of drying just to see what

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really we could do within there. As I said, we thought there was very little

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variety. And for us, that variety actually comes out

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in two key elements within Soul Fruit. The first, as you mentioned, is those different

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varieties of fruits. So the different flavors. But then

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also what we have is we have these two different textures, the way in which

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we dry our fruits. So we have what we call our chewy slices, and then

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we also have our crunchy chips. So it's quite funny,

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that personal experience that brought us round to it. As we

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said, we really, really love snacking, and my wife napped. For her, the

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most important thing, actually, is texture of her snacks. She

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really likes really satisfying, chewy snacks. Whereas for

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me, I'm more about often typically crunchy snacks. I'm more of

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maybe in the daytime, like a crisp eater. But then I also really

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love kind of fruit flavored things. So it kind of

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turned into this, us together in a product

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whereby when we were working with these different factories, we were trying all the different

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drying methods out there. And there's been huge developments in terms of the drying

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technologies of what they can do and how we can kind of really develop

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different textures. But again, even when we looked at what was existing in

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the market, often a lot of the dried mango that you'd come across is

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quite tough and leathery. And it didn't really have the same

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satisfying chew that you would have got from a packet of sweets,

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or you wouldn't be able to get this kind of crunchy, crisp texture

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that you would have got from a packet of crisps. But that was really kind

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of what we were trying to do, is trying to actually replicate

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what consumers or what we would look for when it came to those really

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ultra processed and artificial snacks. How much can we provide the same

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snacking experience that you look for there, but without any of

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those health issues, without any of the saturated fat, artificial

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flavors, ingredients and so on, just

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because I think it's so

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possible to deliver that. But people don't assume. People assume when

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it comes to snacking, they're going to be unhealthy. People don't think, oh, you

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can still snack, and it can also still be a really healthy

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product. And that's what we wanted to kind of challenge the status quo with a

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bit delivering those same satisfying snacking

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experiences, but with none of the drawbacks. Yeah,

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and what I really like as well, that you've spoken about is that you didn't

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kind of accept anything to be the status quo because you were talking about going

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to different places and looking at different drying methods. And I have to be honest,

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again, until I tried your products, the only type of dried fruit I had

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had, personally, is that chewy tough.

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What I think of as traditional dried fruit, the fact that you could dry fruit

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into a crisp form and still retain the sweetness and the flavor

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was something that I've never seen. And I'm not saying it doesn't exist, but

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I've personally have never seen it. So, yeah, I really like the fact that you

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guys were obviously very open to

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what is possible rather than what isn't. Yeah,

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absolutely. And that was really, I guess, coming from that position of a

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consumer, of being passionate about snacking. And we have

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tried most snacks you'll come across in a snackard in a supermarket.

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And I think for us, knowing what we'd enjoyed about different

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snacks and therefore, how we can take elements of those and bring them into other

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products, because it was really important for us that when you

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drying fruits, if you add sugar when you're drying, it actually just makes

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everything really easy. It keeps the texture nice and soft.

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You can dry it for slightly too long in the drying machine, slightly

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shorter, and it still comes out very good. It's a real

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stabilizer. But when you're drying fruits without added sugar,

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there is a lot more skill in terms of how you're drying it. The moisture

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content you're drying to the length of drying time, how you cut the fruit even

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before it goes into the drying machines. And that's

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how we kind of ended up being a slightly willy Wonka, where we were just

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really trying to change every different measure or input that we could

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and see what would happen at the end and just really

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experimenting, because I think there were so many opportunities to do that, but

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with the chips in particular, which is, I guess, something that really, we're quite

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unique in doing, we use a freeze drying

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technology so that still retains all the nutrition because it's happening at low

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temperature. But actually, it's quite interesting. Freeze drying came

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about as a way of bringing food up to space. That was

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its very, very first initial kind of function. And you could essentially

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then take food, take out the moisture and then put it back

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with water or put a piece in a glass of water and it would naturally

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rehydrate. So that technology existed and people would

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maybe drying fruits or other products using it, but

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they were just taking whatever the output was and saying, well, that's freeze dried fruit.

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That's how it is. Whereas I think for us, approaching it from that other perspective

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of going, I want to try to achieve a snack that I would

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typically pick up in a supermarket shelves. How can I use this

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technology and try and work with it and adjust it to get as close to

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that as possible? As you said, not just accepting this is how freeze dried fruit

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comes out, really kind of playing around with all the kind of the process, the

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set points to see how we can make it for us, what we consider

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to be the most satisfying texture we could get. Yeah,

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I really admire your resilience, by the way, to get to where you

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have. So was it a case of finding places. You mentioned you in Vietnam.

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So was it finding places in Vietnam that would work with you to experiment

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a little bit? Essentially, because I assume this is an assumption that

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they weren't perhaps doing

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be when they started working with you, perhaps not the exact same process.

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So was it finding someone who was willing to say, okay, let's try something new

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and see what happens? Yeah, exactly that.

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One of our first products was our soft dried dragon fruit and dragonfruit

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chips. So soft dried dragon fruit we had tried before, and that is

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something that actually, Vietnam is a very big producer of dragon fruit,

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so that product kind of is available. And when we were speaking with the

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factories there that actually then are able to do the other drying technologies, we

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were then working through all the different kind know, set points and so on with

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them to try and get know what we consider to be the best

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possible output. So, yeah, it took a lot of back and forth, a lot

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of patience on their behalf. I think. I think they were

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probably a little bit surprised. Two kind of british

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backpackers almost basically trying to do whatever they

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could and being kind of a bit obsessive about the different kind of snack qualities

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at the end. But, yeah, really fortunately, we worked with some really great

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suppliers and farmers there that had that patience, were willing to work with

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us, and tried to test out the different kind of technologies and the

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different products we could create at the end of it. And I am dying to

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know. Daniel, did either of you have a food or retail background

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at all before you? Not at all, no, not at all. So

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we do have a complementary background. So my background was in kind of engineering, so

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I have worked in kind of supply chains and other elements like that. So

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I deal with a lot of the kind of finance, operations, logistics elements.

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And my wife Natalie, she's been a background in kind of marketing

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and also a yoga teacher. So her background is more of that

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branding, marketing, the kind of health and wellness kind of

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space. So we definitely had complementary

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backgrounds in terms of the skills needed to run the business,

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but nothing in the food and beverage. All of our

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experiences, if you could call it that, purely comes from a

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consumer just trying different elements and just kind of

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knowing what we liked. Yeah, thank you for sharing that, because I think it's

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really important for people to hear that you don't need a specific

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background to get into a certain product category. So

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I just think that's really good for people to hear because you had no experience

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in food and drinks other than, you say, being extremely passionate about it,

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and you still are able to produce this amazing product. So I just

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think that's something. I personally think that's really

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inspiring. Thank you. I

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massively agree with that. I think passion goes a long way. It really

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is underrated because in setting up the business, there was a lot of times where

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we had to spend a lot of time researching packaging

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requirements and how to label correctly and nutritional

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tables and so on. But because it was all focused around something that we

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were passionate about, we quite enjoyed all of the kind of

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investigation and all the learning that we had to do for it. So I think

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it is just something that is massively underrated where people think you need to have

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practical experience. I think that is something that you can

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learn along the way, but you can't learn your passion that either is

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there or it's not. So if you have that, the rest of it is all

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achievable, I think. Yeah. Thank you. And as you just touched on there,

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there's obviously so much that you need to do between having a

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product that you're happy with and actually getting that product to

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market. Is there anything in particular, or even more than one

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thing that you think if someone else is listening and they've got an idea

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for a product in the food and drink space, is there anything you think it'd

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be useful for someone to know? Anything that you were perhaps caught out

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on or didn't realize? I mean, there were definitely a few

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things that we kind of would have been caught out on, to be honest. I

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think probably the number one thing that we found in working the food and drink

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space is how great and helpful other brands or other

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founders are. Because I think in food and drink, firstly, there's probably more

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startups there than in any other space. Everyone has

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their brownie recipe or drink cocktail recipe that

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they like. So I think there's always new products coming out into the market

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and we found along the way that just speaking to other brands and asking for

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a piece of advice here or there, something that could have taken us a week

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to try and figure out on our own, and we just would speak to another

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brand and say, just out of curiosity, how do you manage? Where do you

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go to get your nutritional label created, how to test your product? Oh,

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here's the company that we used, and they're suddenly cut out a week's worth

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of work of your research just with that one answer. So I think it's

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amazing because these different brands and products

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aren't really, or most of the time, aren't direct competitors. We know

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a lot of brands that are healthy drinks or healthy bars or

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chocolate based products, and they're so willing to be helpful

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and give you those piece of advices along the way that I think that was

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probably one of the biggest helps that we definitely had. That's

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so nice to hear, first of all, because I don't hear that very often, I

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think that's a really nice thing to hear. And also I think reassuring, because I

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think depending

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on your personality type, it can actually be really hard to ask for help or

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approach someone. And it can almost feel like a bit, is it okay to ask?

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So hopefully you've given people the confidence to actually just go and ask the question

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as well. Because I think the worst people can say is no. And I have

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to say I found, just from my experience with this podcast, people often

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like to talk about their business, they like to talk about what they've learned and

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they want to be helpful. So definitely

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reminder. Yeah. And we try to have that pay it forward

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mentality. If people reach out to us, even when you're on a busy day, you

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kind of put yourself in that position. You're like, if I answer this email and

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I can tell them this, that the other how much I know, I've helped them,

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how much time I've saved them, and there's a massive pay it forward,

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people are always willing to help back. So I think it's just a great environment

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to be in. Absolutely. So we have talked

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about this a little bit, but I wonder if there's anything else about what

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makes Soul Fruit different to other dried fruits on the market that we haven't

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covered that you'd like to talk about. So we've spoken a bit about the fruits,

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we've spoken about the drying process. Is there anything else you want to tell

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us? Yeah, I think that the big difference for

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us and positioned in the market versus a lot of the other brands or the

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kind of snack products out there is. I think that kind of consumer focus

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that it came from, snackers for snackers, is kind of what we like to think

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about. And I think that kind of positioning of trying to

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say we want to really deliver maximum value in every way

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that we can to our customers. So whether that is the quality of the fruit

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that we're using, that means that it has that really great flavor,

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whether it's the texture that we're drying it to. Again, we're trying to achieve those

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most satisfying textures that you would otherwise have got from the ultra processed,

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really unhealthy products in terms of sustainability

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as well. So we're members of 1% for the planet. So 1% of all

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of our revenue actually goes back to supporting a blue Dragons

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children's foundation in Vietnam. And that's really important for us to have that kind

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of circular economy that we're actually giving back to the communities that are

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actually growing our fruits and giving those kids more of a future as

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well. Our packaging is now like 50% post consumer

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recycled plastic. We're on that journey of trying towards

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sustainability and packaging, which a lot of companies are on and is very hard.

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But the steps that we can take in the intermediary is always super

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important to do kind of the absolute best that we can there. So,

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yeah, we're always just trying to be kind of as sustainable, as healthy,

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but really delivering on snacking enjoyment.

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We've done quite a lot of flipping and flapping as we've kind of developed the

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brand of going, what are our core values? What is it that we really want

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to stand for? And I think that we are a really

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healthy product. We are single ingredients. There's nothing but the fruit in the bag.

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Every bag is one of your five a day, high in fiber and all of

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those great nutritional benefits. But I think what's key and

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core to us is we just want snacking to be fun and exciting

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and satisfy those cravings, because that was always what

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drove us. We all have that mid morning, mid

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afternoon slump where you kind of want to have a little bit of

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something sweet or crunchy or chewy to kind of get you through

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the rest of the day. And I think that

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snacking provides you a little bit of like a soulful moment

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to yourself, whether you're doing something or busy. But giving that

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little bit of satisfaction, giving that little moment to yourself, bit of enjoyment,

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I think, is something that we want to celebrate. Too often

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people talk around snacks and they talk about being guilt free. And we

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just honestly hate that term because why do we have to feel that

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snacking should be guilty? Why can't snacking be celebrated and be

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fun and be enjoyable and be that great moment?

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Feeding your body, feeding your mind, mental health is really

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important. And giving yourself that kind of satisfaction, not feeling guilt the whole

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time for things that we do in life. And that's really just

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what we want to be. We want to be fun, we want to be enjoyable

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and still, then just snacks made the right way. Well, thank you

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for that. And I have to say, I think it's great how well

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and how easily you can articulate who you are and what you're about.

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And I do honestly think that that comes across with your products,

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all of that. When you look at your branding, your packaging, you definitely get that.

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So I think that's brilliant. Thank you. It's taken a bit of

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flipping and flapping. I'll be honest, as with anyone is starting

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another business or a product, you will have lots of moments where you

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think about different directions and you potentially move in a slightly different way.

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And I think what's really important is really remembering why you started the business,

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what your values are, what's important to you. Because I

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think that becomes translatable, and I think that also becomes

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a clear reason for other people to want to engage

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that idea that we used to eat so many

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artificial sweet snacks. I think there are a lot of people out there that do

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that, enjoy those kind of sweet based snacks,

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sugary packets. And I think that delivering something

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that can give you all of that satisfaction without the downsides worked

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for us. So it's something that we want to share to others. Yeah. Thank you.

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And I think also what I'm taking as well is that there's a lot to

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be said for being genuine. Because I think you can tell when

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someone is being genuine about their product, the passion for their product,

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why they create it. There's something that it makes it a lot easier to resonate

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with a brand. So you sort of talking about the fact that

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you used to eat anything in the Tesco snack aisle or whatever, like

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you say, people can relate to that. Whereas I think sometimes it

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can be tempting to think we have to hide those parts of ourselves or

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some of the things like that. If it feels like we have to put up

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this front or talk about just focus on the

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healthy side of the products. But I really like the fact that you talk about

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how yours are fun as well, and also about your own experiences, because I do

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genuinely think it makes for a more interesting story and it helps customers to

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relate as well. Absolutely. I really appreciate that that

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comes across. I think we always say we are

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brimming in terms of our passion for snacking and so on, as opposed to

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being necessarily passionate about business per se. And we really

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hope that kind of does come across. But it is something that I think,

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particularly in dried fruit, it's important that I think we are that transparent

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and we are that honest about it, because not all dried fruit is made

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equally. There's a lot of products out there that have

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artificial preservatives, they have added sugars. There's a lot

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of products that will say 100% fruit, 100% natural. You look on the back, and

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it's purees, it's pulps, it's added natural

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sweeteners. And those things are really not

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good for you. There is this whole sugar debate on at the moment, which I

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think that's a whole separate topic that would take up a whole nother podcast episode

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in a way. But it's really important that consumers are more wary around

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what actually they're putting in their body, what is truly natural, what is

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healthy, and looking at the ingredients list, and it's why we've been very clear

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from the start as well, that we will only ever be single ingredients. We will

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never add any sugars, any concentrates, any pulps, any

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preservatives into our products, because for us, we're celebrating

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Mother Nature's candy. And I don't think you can do better than that. So I

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think the idea of trying to add in all these additives as a way of

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kind of either increasing profit margins or trying to make your product seem

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more appealing, I think is really the wrong direction. I think consumers are becoming very

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savvy to that. So ensuring that we're basically being as clear and as transparent,

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as honest as possible, and we stand up and

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say we are not an alternative to fresh fruit. Absolutely. Please go and eat an

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apple instead of us. What you should eat our products instead of

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is packets of crisps, packets of sweets, chocolate bars, biscuits,

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all of those ultra processed, unhealthy snacks. Yeah. Thank

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you. And I was thinking this exactly the same as you when you were talking

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that I think consumers are getting more savvy. I mean, I know if I pick

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up anything in the supermarket, the first thing I do is flip it to the

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back and see what ingredients are in there. And I think a lot more people

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are doing that now. And I think it comes back again to, I was talking

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about sort of consumers having trust in you, because

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I've definitely looked at products that, as you say, say, 100% fruit, and then you

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turn it over and then there's a whole list of additives. And I feel

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like to me, I'm put off by that now because I'm

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like, well, it's not quite what you said it was,

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and I wouldn't have any loyalty to that brand. Whereas I think that

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brands that can sort of deliver on what they promise, I think it's much easier

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for customers to be loyal to because you know what you're getting.

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Absolutely. And that's exactly what we're trying to do,

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being clear and honest and upfront about what is in your products. I think is

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one of the most important things at the moment. There was already a health

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trend, but I think Covid has definitely also helped accelerate that. And people

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are massively conscious about what they're putting into their

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bodies. There's so much research and so

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on, things that are coming out. People follow Tim Spector and the Zoe

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diet and all of these kind of things that are happening at the know as

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the advances in understanding nutrition, how our

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body reacts to different ingredients, different products,

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is really taking big, big leaps forward. And I think

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that's something that we are wanting to be clear about as

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much. I said that we are a fun snack, and that was always our focus

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on being that fun side. The way we focus on

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staying healthy is trying to stay as close to nature as possible. We aren't

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food scientists. We aren't coming at this from a very overly technical perspective,

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but we've learned a lot along the way. And I think that consumers understand

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that when you open one of our packs and you take out a slice of

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dragon fruit, it is a whole slice of dragon fruit. You can see exactly

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what fruit that came from. If you look at a lot of these other fruit

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based snacks or fruit products, you take them out and they're reformed into a

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bar, into certain shapes or into certain things like that. And sometimes I even have

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it, you eat it and you go, what fruit actually is that? And you're trying

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to figure out, as soon as you see that, people

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realize this isn't really healthy, this isn't close to nature,

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this isn't a whole fruit. Right? This has been pureed, pulked,

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blended, which has the whole issue about creating free sugars and making it actually truly

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unhealthy. And for us consumers,

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we don't want consumers to have to always flip to the back of the pack

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and always have to read the ingredients as much. I think it's an important thing

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they do. We want to be easily reliable

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where people can just look at our product and go, I can see that is

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fruit that really looks like fruit to me, just simply dried and not this

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idea of that. You're looking at products that look like other things but are telling

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you that they're fruit. Yeah, that makes absolute sense.

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And I'd like to pivot slightly, if that's okay, to talk about getting

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stocks in retailers, because I know that's something that you've been able to do,

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but I guess to kind of keep it on what we're talking about.

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I'm just really curious as to how much of the sort of the things we're

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talking about. So single ingredient, the differences

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in your products, how much of that plays into being able to get stocked,

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if that makes sense. Is that a part of your pitch? Is that something that

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retailers are interested in? Absolutely.

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I think that the reason we've had a bit of success in getting into retail,

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because it is a very tough route and thing to do

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is because of that initial assumption that we had at the very start, that there

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is a bit of a gap in the market here. I think us consumers are

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trying to eat healthier products. There aren't many dried fruit brands out there, and particularly,

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as we say, about those truly healthy dried fruit products. So

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absolutely, that is quite important. There's a whole thing in retail

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called HFSS legislation, which is high fat salt sugars,

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which essentially means retailers can't do certain promotions on products

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that would have too much fat, salt or sugar in it. They can't put them

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near the checkout. This is something that's been delayed by the government

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implementing some of them, but it's things that are happening because of consumer

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preferences. So there is a huge amount where people are looking to

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say, suddenly I look at my snacks range and 90% of them

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are ultra processed, really unhealthy, and I don't have enough

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products that are catering for this growing movement of healthy snacking. So

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that's something that I think we've been quite fortunate in, that retailers have been looking

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to grow that category and expand the kind of offerings within that

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range, which I think has worked kind of very fortunately well for us.

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But that really comes about from that consumer preferences and the retailers are then kind

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of following that consumer trend. That's really interesting. And

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how interested, I'm curious on this, how interested are

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retailers in sort of what makes your brand

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different? So the story about your brand or are they

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more interested in products? I'm just curious. Yeah, I

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think really when it comes to retail, it's one of those things. There's no hard

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and fast rules. It's a little bit of everything. And also some retailers are

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different to others. So definitely it's really important, I think,

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having that brand story, having a reason behind the product

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and solving a specific problem. When people are looking

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to bring out another packet of crisps, for example, they'd look for one

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that isn't just exactly replicating a brand that they would already stock, because then

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they would just be competing against each other. So having products that are

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offering different points of different unique selling points

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or offering different benefits, different experiences to the

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customer, that I think is really important for a retailer to understand

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why is your product different to what I already have on my shelves, and why

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is that difference something that customers are actually looking for? But that can be anything.

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That can be, as we talked about, the textures, the different fruit varieties,

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it can be the brand story, it can be the packaging, it can be the

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sustainability angle. All of these are viable reasons why

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consumers want to identify with different brands. And I think it's just really important

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that whatever your positioning is in the market as a product or a new

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brand, you understand why would a consumer want your

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product and go in on that and really ensure that that is

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something that you can demonstrate, you can explain, you can

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articulate on your packaging, perhaps, and that retailers will be

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able to understand this is why you are different to what else is out there.

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Yeah. Thank you. Because I remember being told by a previous podcast guest

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that essentially if a retailer takes on your product, they're having

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to drop someone else because they only have so much space on the shelf. Now,

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I don't know whether that is still the case because this was a number of

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years ago, but it does make sense to me that you have to almost fight

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for your place to be there because it's not like you're

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going to someone who's got empty shelves that needs filling up. They

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either presumably do need to stop stocking someone else, or

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they need to make space for you and they need to have room. I mean,

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they hold all the cards, don't they, ultimately? So I guess you do have to

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have a really compelling reason as to why they would want to stock your

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products. Absolutely. It is a case that you're

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right that most retailers have limited shelf and it will be some way of a

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one in, one out. It depends. We were in a

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category that was growing. So I think for us it was, instead of

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being a one in, one out, put one dried fruit product in, kick another dried

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fruit one out, they were looking more saying, we need to grow the healthy snacks

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category, so we're actually kicking out some of the unhealthier products, perhaps,

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and that's how kind of retailers, I guess, work and where they need to understand

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the market and understand what their customers are really looking for. And of course, then

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all retailers are different in that what they're specifically offering

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to their customers. So you have to think about it from that

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perspective and you have to be, I think, able to

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articulate to a retailer then why your product should be new and on the

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shelf, realizing that it's not just, oh, it's nice or

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customers like me. You exactly have to articulate that point of difference of saying why

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it's really better than other products and why customers

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would really pick you up instead of somebody else. Thank you.

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And on the subject of retailers, do tell us which retailers you're stocked in for

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anyone who wants to go and pick up a pack today. Absolutely. Thank you.

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So we're listed online with a cardo, we're in

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stores with Planet organic in Harrods, in

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Selfridges. We're listed online as well with Holland and

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Barrett. We're working on getting our way into Holland and Barrett stores, but Holland and

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Barrett have actually launched their whole own range of crunchy fruit and freeze

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dried fruit chips as well. And we're

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also enlisted in a number of small kind of independent retailers. We're

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online on Amazon and then also direct online on our website as well.

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Soulfruit co. Uk. Amazing. Thank you. And I'm going to ask you a few questions

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about Amazon in a moment. But just last question I have on

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getting stocked in retailers. So you're in some really big name stores

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and online retailers. Is that a case, if you're thinking about

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getting stocked, of approaching them proactively? Is that how it tends to

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work? Yeah, absolutely. Buyers are

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notoriously difficult. They have a million and one things to do

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when you've got to imagine if a supermarket shelves, you think how many products are

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on there. You've got a category buyer. That might be, for example, the snacking

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buyer. Think how many different snack products and brands they have to look after, let

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alone introducing new products. So they are hard to get a hold

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of. But yes, you need to kind of be persistent and persevere

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with it. There's a couple of organizations out

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there that can help you with trying to approach them. So we've done a few

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with bread and jam, for example. They're fantastic product

Speaker:

guru as well. They do some kind of like online lightning pictures, or they

Speaker:

do buyer days, which are relatively inexpensive way

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for brands to try and meet buyers. Trade shows are quite expensive

Speaker:

to do, so it's kind of a stepping stone towards doing those.

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But it really is a case of trying being

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persistent because you may email them three times over the

Speaker:

space of three months and never hear something back, and then three months later

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happens to be the time that they're actually doing their range review and they're then

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going to get back in contact with you. But it's hard for you to know

Speaker:

always the timing that's going to be right for them and also they're never normally

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going to give you all of that information by telling you when they're range review

Speaker:

what they're looking for, those specific things. So you just do need to be

Speaker:

a bit persistent, not overly so. I

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wouldn't recommend bombarding a buyer but dropping them notes just to let them

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know this is what we're doing, this is an interesting development, this is a

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feedback we're hearing or this is a reason why our product is doing well is

Speaker:

good. Just to give them those kind of nudges in the right direction. That's really

Speaker:

helpful. Thank you. I had a feeling you were going to say something like that

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because I do know from speaking to other guests that getting stocked can

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be hard work. But it sounds like if you have a bit of a plan

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and you just keep working at it, then you can definitely get some

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success. Absolutely. It really is.

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I'm being an engineering background. I love to have a process and

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know that there's a tangible result at the end. So it's something I found difficult.

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But it is that case of know you've got to keep kind of plugging away.

Speaker:

That's great. Thank you. So let's very briefly, if you don't mind, just

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touch a little bit on your Amazon experience, because I know you've been on

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Amazon for a little while now and I guess the main thing I'd love to

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know is that anything that you've learned from that experience that you think would be

Speaker:

useful for others. Yeah, we have been on Amazon

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for quite a while. I admit it's been up and down in terms of how

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we've been on there, partly because as a business we've had challenges around getting enough

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product and stock into the country and so on, which was always

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challenging. I think Amazon, it's an amazing platform and environment

Speaker:

ecosystem to kind of have your product. I mean, most people don't think of

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Amazon when it comes to food products or I didn't before starting this.

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But actually there is a huge amount of food and people do buy

Speaker:

snacks and so on kind of online from there. So I think it's a

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really great place to have any kind of food based product, actually.

Speaker:

It is something that you do need to work at as well. It is something

Speaker:

that isn't just a case of simply set up, that's it done and let it

Speaker:

go. You do need to think quite a bit around your product

Speaker:

imagery about your product listing. What are the right keywords that you're kind of

Speaker:

including in there, what other brands are in your space and

Speaker:

therefore what keywords are they targeting, should you be doing similar ones or should you

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be doing slightly different ones that are your own niche? There is quite a

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lot of research and kind of planning that can go into that which you

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helped us out with massively. We were very kind of novice

Speaker:

when it came into this, but it is something that I think

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is great, great doors to open. So I would say

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it's something that people need to really spend some time thinking about

Speaker:

trying to understand your brand, understand your consumers,

Speaker:

understand what they're looking for, what you're offering, and really have a clear

Speaker:

picture of that in mind. So, you know, these are the words that I'm going

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to focus on. These are the images that I'm going to use. This is

Speaker:

how for us, for example, we show the

Speaker:

pack of what they look like. It's brightly colored, packs look

Speaker:

appealing. But then actually it's really important to show also images of

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what does the fresh fruit look like? Because a lot of people don't know what

Speaker:

a dragon fruit is. For example, what does the pieces of the dried fruit look

Speaker:

like? Because you don't want this mystery bag that you're opening, that you don't really

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know what actually is inside. Can you have some pictures of

Speaker:

people consuming the product, showing how it could be used for

Speaker:

ours, for example, they can be a snack, but you can also use them as

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like a topper on yogurt, on granola, on home baking and so on

Speaker:

like that. So how can you demonstrate different use cases as well within your

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imagery? I'm also massively a believer. An

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image speaks a thousand words getting some of

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those main images right. And if I were to look at another product on Amazon,

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I'm thinking about buying. The first thing I do is scroll through all the images

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because it's the easiest way for me to try and understand the product. And is

Speaker:

this right for me? So I think there's a lot of things that can be

Speaker:

done by just really cleverly thinking about your product, your position

Speaker:

and how you can showcase that best. With, firstly, I think the images, but then

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also with those text, those keywords, the product descriptions.

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Thank you so much. And you know what, I don't think I could have said

Speaker:

that better myself. And it's really nice to hear you say that because it's

Speaker:

something that I talk about lots on this podcast is the fact that it's

Speaker:

work. Because there was once upon a time, it was a long time ago now,

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you could put something on Amazon and sort

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know maybe not your best effort and you would still sell

Speaker:

products because it was relatively new and there wasn't a lot of competition.

Speaker:

But unfortunately, it's just not that I say unfortunately. I think

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it's probably a good thing because I feel like everyone has to sort of up

Speaker:

their game a little bit. Everyone has to make more of an effort to sell

Speaker:

their products, which of course is what it's about. And then, as you say, I

Speaker:

think the rewards are there, but it does take a bit of work

Speaker:

and doesn't happen overnight. So it's really good for you to share all of that.

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And. Yeah, completely agree with everything because, I mean, at the end of the day,

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it's a big search engine if you want. Absolutely. And I think that

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the other key thing that is really important is with Amazon prime.

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So us being a snack, we're typically an impulse

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purchase where you buy it because you're hungry now and you want to eat it.

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So the idea of often when you buy something online and you have to wait

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three, four, five days for it to get delivered is not always the best when

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it comes to snacks. But with Amazon prime, the fact you can buy it and

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the next morning it will be there is really helpful, I think, for kind of

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the food and the kind of snack business on Amazon and why I

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think it actually is a really great place to be. I think the one other

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element that I would mention in there as well is that we started off flipping

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between fulfilling ourselves and working with Amazon FBA.

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Amazon FBA just takes a lot of hassle off your side. And I think as

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a small business you have a million and one things to do and never enough

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time in the day to do it where you can find services that just make

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your life easier, that's worth its weight in gold. So I think it's one of

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those things. If people are looking at being like, oh, do I really want to

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do it? It might have slightly higher cost, this and that. I think there's a

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huge amount to be said of just make your life easier. I completely

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agree. And I know that for some food businesses in particular, people

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can worry and think, oh, can I send food into? And yeah, absolutely, you can.

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With a few exceptions, you can send food products into

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Amazon and of course you have to think about expiry dates and things

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like that. But actually you don't have to be sending in thousands of

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units. You can send in, you can send in the tent. I mean, we've spoken

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about this. You can send it in the tent. You don't have to be sending

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in loads of stock and worried that it's all tied up. It's much more flexible

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than people imagine. And of course, if you have any questions on this, then you

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can always just ask me as well. So thank you

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so much for everything you've shared, Daniel. I've really loved hearing more

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about your story. Obviously I knew some of it, but hearing sort of the behind

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the scenes, as it were, is so interesting. And as I said earlier,

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inspiring as well. And I have one final question, which

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is, what would your number one piece of advice be for other product creators?

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I think my number one piece of advice would come back to that point around

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passion. I think passion is

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substitutable. Probably not a word, but let's roll with it.

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I think that you'd be amazed at how much the little

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practical hurdles that people think of are big obstacles

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are easy enough to overcome. I think the thing that's hard to

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really replicate is a real passion and a real desire to

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want to do something or be passionate about a space. So if

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it's something that's been on your mind, it's something that you've thought about, has been

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there, go for it. You'll be amazed at how much all the things that you

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think at the start are massive obstacles and hurdles are actually

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quite easily surmountable. Thank you so much. And

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as I said earlier, you are a great example of that. Thank you. Thank you

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so much. Vicki. No, really, really enjoyed talking to you and thank you so much

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for having me on. Thank you. Thank

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you so much for listening. Right to the end of this episode, do remember that

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you can get the fullback catalogue and lots of free resources on my website,

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vickyweinberg.com. Please do remember to rate and review this

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episode if you've enjoyed it and also share it with a friend who you think

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might find it useful. Thank you again and see you next week.

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Close.