Riding Unicorns

S3E2 - Andy Shovel, Founder & Co-CEO @ THIS™

December 08, 2021 Riding Unicorns Season 3 Episode 2
Riding Unicorns
S3E2 - Andy Shovel, Founder & Co-CEO @ THIS™
Show Notes Transcript

Andy Shovel is the co-founder of THIS, one of the leading plant based meat alternative companies in the UK. Andy is a true example of a versatile entrepreneur. Having succeeded  with the beef burger chain, Chosen Bun, Andy then decided to turn his life upside down by giving up meat and going plant based. His ambition ever since has been to crack the meat free code in the hopes of providing people with a true culinary alternative to meat. 

The former carnivore spoke to us about the epiphany that led him and his co-founder to explore meat free alternatives and his philosophy when creating new products. Andy also has his say on the criticisms levelled against plant based products and goes on to predict what the meat free industry will look like in ten years. Finally we ask Andy to run through his process of raising a round and deliberate on what qualities he thinks makes him a successful founder. 

Make sure to like and subscribe to the Riding Unicorns podcast to never miss an episode. Also don't forget to give Riding Unicorns a follow on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep on top of the latest developments.

[00:00:00] James: Welcome to Riding Unicorns, the podcast about growth startups. I'm James Pringle, and I'm a technology entrepreneur and investor and the founder of Pringle Capital. My co-host is Hector Mason from episode one ventures for season three, we are sitting down with some of the most successful founders to better understand what entrepreneurship means to them. The operational processes they have employed on their startup journey and what lessons they've learned along the way.

[00:00:36] Today's episode is with Andy Shovel, co-founder at This. This described themselves as what happens when two meat lovers checked out the meat-free section and decided they didn't want any of it. This is plant-based meat and they're taking over more and more aisles at your local supermarket. In this episode, we find out how Andy built the company. [00:01:00]

[00:01:02] Hector: Andy, welcome to riding unicorns. Awesome. To have you on the show.

[00:01:06] Andy: Thank you so much. Yeah. Cheers for inviting me and for the interest in what we're up to.

[00:01:11] Hector: Not at all. Great to have you on. So what does entrepreneurship mean?

[00:01:15] Andy: It's definitely not, a particularly level playing field when it comes to entrepreneurship. So that's probably the first thing that comes to mind. I think word association for playing word association game, a lot of stress and, A huge amount of, personal development. I would say I've been, I've been hustling away with startups for, over a decade, and whatever decade now. And, I've definitely taken on, a lot of new skills, a lot more patients and just all sorts of qualities and skills that I never would have imagined I would, I would have at this point, I suppose. so yeah, that's probably what it means to me in broad strokes.

[00:01:49] James: And onto you after university, you founded the company straight away.

[00:01:53] So w what was the drive to do that? Why did you not go there? Uh, graduate road or [00:02:00] go down a more traditional route.

[00:02:02] Andy: I did, I did always know from when I was about 16, that I wanted to be a founder. I did work experience. I was fortunate enough to get a few placements when I was doing my a levels and, you know, throughout summers and stuff in different companies. and it became clear to me. my terrible performance and feedback that I would not make a particularly good, employee. And that perhaps I was naturally better suited to, being a founder and expressing the more creative sides of my personality and being as assertive as I wanted to be naturally. and so, yeah, it felt like the right kind of job spec for me, I would say.

[00:02:36] Hector: So what actually motivates you in, in this space? Obviously it's. obviously it's a really hot space. You've done a number of different things in the past.

[00:02:45] and you know, you've done stuff in food, I think before. what is it about the vegan veggie food space or the meatless space that, really excites you? And is it that you're on a mission to save the environment, to reduce meat [00:03:00] consumption? Or did you just send to an opportunity or what is it?

[00:03:03] Andy: So it's quite a weird one, this, because, the answer now is actually quite different from, the answer at point of kind of conception of the business. I've become very unexpectedly mission-driven and I, I really, um, didn't see that one coming. but essentially the first answer is go chronologically.

[00:03:20] Pete and I, to two farms of their suite, we, um, sold our, fast food business, which, was very much a meat dependent, kind of a business. Um, we sold it in 2016 and we laid down, I suppose, a prescription for the next business. And, we considered. It has to be an enormous market opportunity and a real kind of growth area has to be in sustainability in some way.

[00:03:41] And it also has to play into some of the skills and experience that we've built up over the years. And so we quite kind of. On romantically landed on plant-based food because it was a bullseye for each of those different criteria that we laid down. at the time we were both meat-eaters, you know, we were sort of meat [00:04:00] reducing, I guess, but, nothing to write home.

[00:04:02] And then shortly after the journey began, I would actually say quite independently of, the startup. I decided to give up animal products. I had a kind of like, almost instant. Uh U-turn actually I saw a video, of chicks being, crushed when they were a couple of days old, which is what happens in the egg industry.

[00:04:21] And, I just watched that, the person who showed me told me that it's, commonplace in the UK in Europe, because mail checks won't go on to lay eggs and they're not suitable for me. And, check's a very, very sweet, as you probably know. And so, um, it annoyed me and disgusted me and I thought that was the end of that.

[00:04:39] so subsequently, I've become very driven at work, by my personal beliefs that, you know, there's a lot of cruelty and, pretty undesirable practices going on in the meat industry. so yeah, didn't see that one coming. It was a bit before.

[00:04:53] James: it was really interesting how you kind of labeled out those requirements for the next big thing that you were going to do [00:05:00] together, which is,

[00:05:00] which is great because we haven't had many people talk about that process so much

[00:05:04] What did you do once you'd settled on the idea? How do two guys we have an exit in the food space go about creating a completely new plant based food business

[00:05:15] Andy: the first thing we did was a bit of a safari and try and understand, what. Was it the leading edge of this space and what was most exciting from a textural flavor perspective and a branding perspective.

[00:05:29] so we essentially spent a lot of time visiting supermarkets, both in the UK and abroad. We went to the states for a couple of weeks to, try all of the different plant-based products that were available over there. we went to Europe and we tried everything there and we wanted to build up a picture of what was.

[00:05:46] Possible today from, a technical perspective. as well as, as I say, from a branding and marketing perspective. And then from there. We wanted to kind of make the final decision as to like, okay,[00:06:00] do we feel that there's some promising stuff here, but we should, we should, we can build on, or not kind of thing.

[00:06:05] And then we did, we did determine that, that we could probably, um, make some improvements and, develop some IP from what was already out there. And I'm sort of skipping some other bits. Speaking to a lot of industry experts doing a lot of LinkedIn stalking and InMails to people being like, Hey, can we have a chat?

[00:06:21] I want to learn about the space. We've we spent about five months or so building up a really comprehensive picture of the space and where we could potentially slot in both from a product perspective and a brand perspective.

[00:06:34] so I suppose that was step one. you know, doing that Safaria and then, and building up a network. Consultants, scientists, business, people, all of whom were experts in the space and just try and like download bits from each of them.

[00:06:48] Hector: super interesting. I mean, we we've talked about the space and I think it is, it's gotta be one of the hottest and most exciting emerging spaces that the meter. Meatless meat, [00:07:00] space. So, um, yeah, and lots of people are super interested in including it, including lots of our listeners on shore.

[00:07:05] I'm curious to understand whether, you know, whether you feel there have been challenges presented by how contentious it is, or, how much it lands in the press. And I suppose how exposed you are to, campaigners or people who feel very strongly about this stuff. Um, and whether you've had to deal with things that perhaps other, other early stage founders don't have to deal with.

[00:07:31] Andy: when you say we're exposed to campaigners and stuff, I think most of the campaigning in the areas is against meat rather than plant based meat. so I don't feel that we have much exposure to. On that side of things. there are a few criticisms that some people might, level at the kind of food that we make.

[00:07:49] so I suppose, you know, one Huston. I understand like, what credible, rebuttals we can have for those criticisms. but no, Jeremy speaking, I don't feel particularly [00:08:00] hard done by, in terms of, being exposed to much contention or I, to be honest, a lot of the contention is very self-inflicted because we have quite a, really.

[00:08:08] Heavy appetite for, as a brand. And so we often caught in controversy. So, I have no one to blame, but myself really, for any controversy that comes our way.

[00:08:18] James: Yeah. I think you guys have done a good job of keeping the theme of as a strong tailwind, but for everything that you're doing and you raised a series a, this year, you've done very well at fundraising.

[00:08:29] What was that process like? And what advice would you have for other founders when fundraising?

[00:08:34] Andy: I would say that, for us, the process was actually, relatively low stress. this time around we've definitely had more stressful rounds. I think in terms of advice for other founders, I suppose leverage is everything so creating a competitive environment, if you can, is, uh, the name of the game.

[00:08:53] also, I would strongly recommend crowdfunding to founders who have any. Exciting, [00:09:00] consumer component to their business, or perhaps even just found us who have a story to their business, which, which, you know, the, the, the retail investment market might be excited by. cause I think crowdfunding has proved itself to me personally, as a, as a really like viable, relatively frictionless, way to raise money.

[00:09:20] but to be honest, All of that is kind of easier said than done. Isn't it? Cause most of the work is front loaded and you have to like show good performance and, put everything in place before you actually go funding to have a successful round rather than like turn up and then do things to make your round really successful. It's mostly front loaded.

[00:09:36] Hector: No, it's really, it's good to hear you say that because I'm a massive advocate for crowdfunding. I think it's done a lot of good stuff. I think it still has its struggles in terms of kind of largely indexing the. Certainly not top core tile companies, but I think it is different for consumer brands where there is a genuine value out to crowdfunding.

[00:09:55] And so in that space, it does attract really good companies. But I think a lot of [00:10:00] people kind of go into it thinking this is going to be a lot of work for not that much money. And are the investors really going to start buying our products and become brand advocates? Have you, have you found a way to measure or do you have an idea of the, sort of the benefits to crowdfunding for you?

[00:10:16] Andy: I don't really have anything tangible for you. and to be honest, when I was, you know, suggesting it as a, really like credible route to funding, I actually was more talking about just purely the access to capital site rather than the sort of fringe benefits you get of, onboarding more advocates.

[00:10:33] because. The money for founders, the money definitely has like fewer strings attached than it does when you raise from an institution or from sophisticated angels. so in that respect, it's a really good option for founders. because actually a lot of the strings that come attached from, institutional money can be undesirable for some founders.

[00:10:51] So, that's mostly. Angle I was coming from.

[00:10:56] Hector: Yeah, sure. And I'm just, just moving on from that sort of topic and [00:11:00] more that the product itself, which I've tried, I think I've tried your bacon. is there a bacon product?

[00:11:05] Andy: Yes. Um, we have a bacon alternative, which is our best seller. currently.

[00:11:09] And, um, we have a plant-based chicken products. We've got a plant-based sausages, just launched recently a plant-based lardons

[00:11:18] Hector: nice. Yeah. So I tried your bacon and thought it was. I wonder how you, how do you guys kind of deal with, you know, I don't know if you even do have to deal with, criticisms around, this may be meatless, but it's less healthy.

[00:11:30] And how do you guys think about kind of, providing really healthy meat, free food, as well as tasting.

[00:11:37] Andy: I think it's really important for people to make fair comparisons. That's the first thing. So I think a lot of people fall into the trap of comparing our plant-based bacon to a grilled over.

[00:11:50] and grilled over jeans are fantastic, but they're not a particularly good, replacement for bacon. If you want something, that's got good proximity in terms of, taste and texture, everything else. [00:12:00] Um, so I think they hear plant-based and they think, well, I know a plant based thing, you know, a cauliflower or Cara or whatever, and actually.

[00:12:07] I think we should be compared to bacon because that's what we're trying to substitute out. when you compare our plant-based bacon to bacon, you find a very compelling, nutritional story. So, you know, we've got more protein, we've got zero saturated, fat, bacon. is classed as a group, one cost margin by the world health organization.

[00:12:27] So that's the same category as cigarettes. so it it's a definitively cancer causing food stuff. And we obviously don't have those qualities. the list goes on and on and on and on and on, but essentially. When you make fair comparisons, generally speaking, we are much more favorable from a health perspective, you know, same with our sausages as well, less fat, less salt, less saturates, less everything, and a more of the good stuff.

[00:12:54] So you've got lots of protein and, you know, so, that's the kind of position I [00:13:00] take, I guess. And. there's often, you know, when you get into these conversations sometimes like, oh, it's processed comes up and oh. List of ingredients.

[00:13:08] and there are a couple of things to bear in mind. Like when you think about your chicken or your beef, those foodstuffs are very fortunate in so far as. They don't need to declare an ingredient stack. They just say chicken or beef, which I've always found quite puzzling. And the last one, not always, but in the last few years, because, chicken is not just chicken, chicken has a very, very long list of ingredients.

[00:13:31] Some of which actually it will be probably, medicinal very on, on desirable and trace, quantities. but there are all sorts of factors. Acids and compounds that go into making your chicken or your beef. But as I say, they don't have to declare ingredients decks, which is weird.

[00:13:47] and in terms of processing, I think that, it's a sort of like leisurely, adopted, stereotype. and for, for this type of food, because I think it's new and people are skeptical of it [00:14:00] sometimes. generally speaking, the majority aren't skeptical of it. I say it's sort of lazy adopted because if you get somebody that comes up to you hypothetically and says, oh, your plant-based chickens processed.

[00:14:10] I'm not having that. And then you go, okay, that's interesting. What about, your toast in the morning? You know, like, and they're like, what about it? And you're like, well, I don't think, The loaf of bread came out of the ground, like, like that. it's gone down a process and if you take pasta, which is actually more pertinent to what we make, pasture is actually processed using the same machine that we make most of our products with.

[00:14:33] there's a difference in. temperatures and water content and that kind of thing. But essentially they are the same machine with some retrofitted components. And so that often shocks people who are saying that it's processed like, well, your pastor, your fuselage is just as processed as hot food.

[00:14:49] Hector: I suppose at this stage it's skepticism and, it's the unknown people aren't familiar with. Long list of ingredients, some which they haven't heard of going into that food, you know, [00:15:00] pastor, they used to it's flour and water. whereas you know, all these new ingredients good or bad, it's just the unknown.

[00:15:07] Andy: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

[00:15:09] Well, I've had it and I'm still here. So it can't be that bad. I had your chicken through Planty. Which is a plant based meal delivery service. And it was great. and I also had it, when I've been to the supermarket. I've bought this. So my question really is around channels. How important are different channels to you? Retail versus dtc versus um partnerships with other companies

[00:15:37] Andy: Yeah. So, for us, the two, predominant channels are, food service. So like restaurant groups and pubs and that kind of thing. and then the retail sector as well. And for us, the retail sector is delivering bigger volumes. So most of our business goes through. The food service, side of the business is incredibly important.

[00:15:56] it's a fantastic brand building tool. So most of our partners, in fact, [00:16:00] almost all of our partners co-brand with us. So they'll put, this isn't chicken on their menu, in the restaurant and on their marketing materials. essentially, you can think of it, like, you know, all these fantastic satellite marketing partners that we have, and that enables us to do.

[00:16:14] A much larger marketing brand awareness machine, then we would have on our own. so the restaurant business is fantastic and of course it also delivers volume and, and top line growth, which is great. so I'm, completely in love with the restaurant side of our business. and then the retail sites where the real tonnage goes, at the moment.

[00:16:32] So, we're stopped in, pretty much all of the major UK supermarkets. Aldi and Lidl, and a couple of others.

[00:16:39] Hector: So with the money that you've raised to date through the various rounds, what does that money unlock for you guys?

[00:16:45] What, do you spend it on? what does fundraising mean to you and what do you do with the money you can.

[00:16:51] Andy: the first point is, it, it unlocks more grown-up, marketing budgets for us, which is very exciting because we're still not a profit making [00:17:00] business. it's very important for us to have, those resources on the model.

[00:17:03] And brand building sides. also we're investing quite heavily in innovation. So we are spending 2 million pounds in the next sort of six months or so on completing our London-based innovation center, which eventually we'll have a more fun name when I'm feeling really pithy. And I can think of one, but basically.

[00:17:19] It's a large building in west London that we've taken and the building work starts in a couple of weeks. and that's going to be a, purpose-built hopefully really state of the art facility for our innovation team. So that's food scientists, process engineers, food technologists, they're all going to be housed there and doing practical work.

[00:17:41] At bench top work, there's going to be a lab there and a pilot facility downstairs. so that's where some of the money's going. and then also just general working capital for the business. and also increasing our manufacturing capacity. and some other things like flash swively chairs and [00:18:00] all the rest of it that you'd expect.

[00:18:01] Hector: Yeah. just following on from that, James, I know you, have a question you want to ask, but following on, on the same thread with.

[00:18:07] innovation. It's quite interesting speaking to you because we normally speak to software founders. and these are people who, you know, releasing a new product means tweaking some code, getting product managers to make changes and manage teams to do those things. do you guys, it's obviously really different.

[00:18:25] You're working in physical products. we'd call it hardware. and so yeah. How does, how does your process go from, you know, idea, generation taking feedback from customers and translating that into product How do you think about product development and innovation?

[00:18:40] Andy: well, I suppose there's one prevailing, thought that we try and keep in mind and then everything permeates from there. But that top line thought is probably, to make sure that Whatever we make is a really no compromise alternative to the animal based product.

[00:18:57] So it's a slightly clunky way of [00:19:00] saying like, our guiding star should always be. but people don't notice the difference from going from animal products to plant-based products. So that's number one priority, really. And then from that, it depends somewhat on the product you're making, but you can consider what technologies that's probably the first thing is what technologies are available to us to, accurately simulate that eating experience that you get from the animal based products.

[00:19:25] So there's always that kind of like fact finding mission that goes on at the beginning of an innovation project, like what's out there. and also what can be changed and innovative. Cause we all obviously want to build up IP for the business. So we filed a few patents actually so far to try and build some defensibility in to what we're doing.

[00:19:42] and so, yeah, that's that's step one. And then, I guess after that sort of like more theoretical work of like, okay, what's out there, what's possible. then it's just quite practical from there. So, you'll start to, do recipe formulation work. I like to seek out, world-leading experts in whichever fields we are [00:20:00] working in.

[00:20:00] So if we're doing something in emulsification, I'm very keen on us, always tapping up, you know, some. Incredibly Maverick and talented professor and, you know, wherever it is, Belgium or America or whatever, and getting them on board, to get some creative scientific ideas. And, because for me, like it's very important that we don't become one of these me too, like plant-based product brands, which just churning out like very, very similar, very similar products, you know, and prioritizing speed over quality.

[00:20:32] because obviously the market's moving so fast. There's a big temptation from everybody in the space to just churn out innovation off a conveyor belt really quickly so they can cash in. But actually what we've learnt from kind of the hardware in a way is to make sure that we take our time and we only release something when there's a real step change on, on what's out in the.

[00:20:51] market

[00:20:52] James: and when this comes out, it will be Christmas, almost on our doorstep. So how do you [00:21:00] try and tackle kind of ingrained societal habits, like having a Turkey for Christmas

[00:21:05] Andy: Well, I think the, the Turkey occasion might be slightly limited. because I think most people might confess that they don't really like Turkey that much and they only like it once a year.

[00:21:14] But what we are doing, to put a positive spin on it is, uh, we've just launched or we've announced today actually, on you, Fistmas range. I haven't caught very good at saying that yet this mus as much better. I don't know why I went with Fistmas. this mus, uh, so this MIS range consists of, pigs in blankets.

[00:21:33] which are incredibly realistic, actually. and I suppose I would say that, but genuinely as, as a customer as well, they are. and, we've also released our, apple and Sage, isn't pork stuffing balls as well. and then finally our, sort of party mini sausages, which are. great for, um, any festivities and, Christmasy things that you might have at home.

[00:21:55] James: How long does it take to like plan the strategy for Christmas? For example?[00:22:00]

[00:22:00] Andy: I suppose we started work on those products, per about 900. So I think for us, we seem to be, I mean, we're still very new. The business is only just over two years old, but a pattern that's emerging is that it takes us nine months to deliver a new product.

[00:22:15] And there are some products which are like slightly longer term like science-based projects, which will take much longer, but generally speaking, we're on about nine to 12 months.

[00:22:25] Hector: That's really interesting. I genuinely think those products sound great and I honestly can't wait to try them out. what, what do you think the space will look like in 10 years?

[00:22:34] Do you, do you have a grand vision for what the meat-free food space looks like and where do you guys fit

[00:22:41] Andy: in that patient? Was that 10 years. Okay. wow. We can go. So,

[00:22:47] Hector: you know, 10, 20 years, you know, whatever you would prefer.

[00:22:52] Andy: It gets even harder, but bigger than them. And then I look even stupider in 20 years when I'm so wrong.

[00:22:58] Hector: I don't think anybody going to remember[00:23:00]

[00:23:01] Yeah. I mean, if people are listening to this in 20 years, We're doing something right.

[00:23:05] Andy: Okay, cool. Well, I'll hedge myself and go with the go with 10. so, I think, um, the, the breadth of the products will be so much bigger. So, actually. Everybody talks at the moment about like, oh, it's so congested and crowded.

[00:23:21] But actually if you look at all the animal based products, which haven't yet got really compelling substitutes, you know, that that number is incredibly high. So, you'll probably find. You know, things like, eggs and treats and, liver, and like all the funny products that, that currently don't really exist meaningfully implant-based, you'll probably see them.

[00:23:41] so you'll get a lot more, a lot more breath. and then also I suspect the way they're merchandised to us as consumers will change quite a lot because at the moment. everything is in that vegan, vegetarian bay. And I hear more and more sort of murmurings from both consumers and retailers that that's going to change, [00:24:00] because actually quite limiting because if your mandate is to onboard, all of the, sort of meat-eating flexitarians and your execution.

[00:24:09] So try and fulfill that mandate is, to, pigeonhole all those products in store, in a place where those flexitarian don't really go, then you've got a bit of a problem, you know? So I think that you'll probably find in 10 years, Those products, sort of filtering into different areas of the supermarket.

[00:24:25] a bit like they have on, restaurant menus. Cause I don't know how old you guys are, but when I was a kid, you'd have a vegetarian menu, if anything, it was all quite sort of segregated. Whereas now of course, if you go to. It's for me aloud. everything that's vegan or vegetarian is, is just simply stitched into the wider menu.

[00:24:45] and I think you'll probably see a similar sort of result in, retail.

[00:24:49] Yeah, I think it would be really positive to actually have this beacon. Next to real bacon, for example and give consumers that very clear direct choice

[00:24:59] Andy: [00:25:00] Yeah. That's, that's definitely the goal. I think one or two other results of. Tenure question might be the, there'll be perhaps not quite such a long tail of brands because, the sector probably needs some consolidation.

[00:25:13] This might be more of a five-year actually thing than 10 year, but I think that the sector needs probably some consolidation and they'll probably. A small number of winners, and a slightly longer tail. Cause at the moment it's more of a speed thing. And if you're like some like smaller brand who perhaps, you know, product quality, isn't quite that you probably still have a shop because of the buoyancy at the moment.

[00:25:36] Whereas I think in the future, whenever everyone gets their act together and big money starts piling in even more, you'll probably find consolidate.

[00:25:43] Hector: Yeah. I'm going to throw in my prediction for 20 years. so everyone will be able to tell, tell me that I'm wrong. and that, that is the, I suspect that people might get to a point where there's less comparison between the meat-free options and the meat it's trying to replace.

[00:25:57] And so, you know, there'll be these [00:26:00] new. Foods made of combinations. We're not used to, and I don't know what there'll be cool, but they'll have names like start-up names, which seem to be never ending and still crap. So I think it's going to be really interesting to see if there are just some, some new foods that come out that are meat free and, and that people feel less of a need to be building or a bacon equivalent or a chicken replacement or, um,

[00:26:26] Andy: Yeah, that's, that's really fan that's. I've heard that quite a few times from pit people, in statement and question form and, yeah, I can't get my head around it yet. I don't know. I probably would. cell cultivated meets quicker than I would. your kind of cold new protein, you know, that we can't quite get our heads around yet. I would say.

[00:26:46] And the reason for that is that meat is so incredibly ingrained in our society that I think is a longer than 20 year thing. I reckon if we're talking a hundred years or even like 50 to a hundred years, then I'd probably be in your camp and I would [00:27:00] say new proteins, but I think, I think we're probably going to be talking.

[00:27:04] Meaty kind of stuff for the next 20 years now.

[00:27:07] Hector: I think I probably agree with that. I think it will be a very gradual generational change.

[00:27:14] James: I had another question about, um, are you ever asked by. Supermarkets to consider white labeling. And how do you manage that pressure? And um yeah does it affect any of the negotiations that you have with them

[00:27:30] Andy: Yes. So there's many forcefulness, but the question is, is asked quite regularly by, some of our customers, uh, in the retail space. it's not really an avenue that we're looking to go down, because we're in the business of building value for the company and the shareholders and in our space, if you become.

[00:27:49] A somewhat or predominantly white label, you know, manufacturer or broker even you're not really building like significant value. so, so it's [00:28:00] not really an area that we'd like to go down. And also the other reason. Uh, for everything we make there's, I would argue like significant know how and some IP that goes into those products.

[00:28:09] So to commoditize those kinds of competitive edges in that way would not, I don't think it'd be strategically sound of us.

[00:28:17] James: How many songs have you have to say that?

[00:28:20] I don't want to sound contrary to your question, but I've actually never said that. Well, that's good.

[00:28:26] That's interesting then.

[00:28:27] So we want to get to know a bit more about Andy, the founder. So are there any traits or habits that you think make you a very good founder

[00:28:36] Andy: Well, I, I don't, if I am a very good phone, I hope I'm a decent I've found it. But, in terms of my strength areas, uh, I think a little bit differently. being aware to, , I used to be like a bad thing and now I think people are really receptive to strange ideas and like, I have.

[00:28:53] very off the wall kind of ideas when it comes to brand and marketing and comms. And I fulfill a kind of [00:29:00] part-time creative director role in the business. So any creative I'm heavily involved in. and so I guess coming up with ideas that can have cut through with the press and media and, and customers and social, that's kind of like one of my things, I guess also, I had.

[00:29:16] no kind of, you know, there's, there's an enormous tenacity when, I'm trying to get something over the line and I don't mind asking so many times to external parties that it becomes kind of impolite or anything like that. So sometimes, there'll be people who would suggest that I've got something a bit wrong with me in the sense that I sometimes, if something needs doing, I might phone someone 15 times in a day or something until they answer, or I can be quite.

[00:29:45] Full on, in some respects because, I just kind of latch on to that goal and just keep pressing, pushing until it's kind of done. So I suppose that's another strength area.

[00:29:54] Hector: does that mean you're unable to let go of if the time would be right to let go?

[00:29:59] Andy: I hope [00:30:00] not. No. because I hope I'm pragmatic as well, and relatively, level-headed when it comes to, you know, knowing when, something's completely impossible.

[00:30:09] I guess I just don't think that much is impossible, I suppose, which is, which is another, going back to your first question, it's probably another quality that good founders probably have to have, is a sort of almost delusional kind of optimism.

[00:30:21] Hector: No, it's super interesting, so something we always like to do with our guests is present them with a business dinner, where you're allowed to invite three people , they can be whoever you want, so do you have ideas of who you would like to invite?

[00:30:33] Andy: So I think the first one, I read a book about a year ago called how to stop time. So for any of your listeners that haven't read it, it is a book about, a guy who is born with, a genetic sort of difference.

[00:30:49] And he, ages many, many times slower than your average human being. So he lives for, and people like him, not many of them, but people like him live for kind of like 500,000 [00:31:00] years. so the. Character in the book is, is a guy called Tony. And I'd like him to come to my denim party because he had the most fantastic anecdotes in the book.

[00:31:08] Like he, was a teacher in today's kind of day and age, and he was teaching his students about, Shakespeare and, you know, he was able to share anecdotes about, what Shakespeare's breath smell like. And, What the sounds and sights were really like back in the days of the plague.

[00:31:24] And it was just incredible to, think about. So I'd love, I'd love him to come to my dinner party

[00:31:29] and that's definitely original. No one else has had hair. I love that book as well. I thought it was just barely. It

[00:31:36] wasn't that really special. Yeah. It really just took sort of grabbed you by the neck and wouldn't let you go.

[00:31:42] It was so good.

[00:31:43] Hector: I mean, with some of those books, like the concept is great and the execution is. That's something to be desired, but I just thought with that, it was just awesome in both areas.

[00:31:52] Andy: Yeah. So I totally agree. and then, um, probably wreckage surveys for the LOLs and just like have a good time at [00:32:00] dinner.

[00:32:00] cause he's such a funny guy and, also I think he's a vegan as well. And we probably have a lot of, war stories about, about plant-based food and, talking about how we can bring down meat meat-eating and less of them, love rich surveys. but he just doesn't give, I don't know if we're able to sweat, but he doesn't give that at all.

[00:32:18] switches so cool. And then lastly, I would invite Vladimir Putin, I think, because I'm in a bubble in one respect, it's probably most of us are in that we don't really have like, easy access to, megalomaniac or profoundly, some malevolent type of personalities.

[00:32:38] one day, you know, perhaps in life later, I'd love to, get into the area of, not, well domination, but, um, maybe trying to help people who, who are subjugated in whatever way. And, and so it'd be good to understand how, contemporary, leader who perhaps is not as ethically orientated as they could be.

[00:32:57] Things that'll be.

[00:32:59] Hector: Definitely. [00:33:00] I think that's three March for originality I would love to join that dinner. That sounds rude. that's great stuff. Andy, we've loved having, you on the show. It's been, very interesting, both thinking about the business and also kind of thoughts on the space, which clearly is, is hot and exciting for a lot of people.

[00:33:17] thanks for coming on. It's been a pleasure.

[00:33:18] Cheers. Thanks so much guys for the invite and um, yeah.

[00:33:22] That's it for this week. I hope you were able to take away many learnings from this episode. Thankfully, we have plenty, more amazing guests and insightful conversations coming your way. Every week, every Wednesday. Be sure to subscribe to riding unicorns on apple, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Thank you again for listening. If you're interested in supporting the show.

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