Jon Wright, co-founder of innocent, the fruit drinks maker, spoke to an audience of Fast Track 100 alumni in London last night, sharing insights from the company’s journey, and also talking about JamJar Investments, the early-stage fund he now runs. Olly Olsen, co-founder and chief executive of The Office Group, hosted the event at Tintagel House, overlooking the Thames, together with Fast Track’s founder Hamish Stevenson.
Emphasising the importance of the team to the success of an early stage business, Jon said: “You need to find the right people to do the right things, then everything takes care of itself.” He said he learned from his time at innocent that, in the early days, “you are the business, you’re doing everything – if there are deliveries to be made at 3am, you’re driving the van.”
Set up in 1998, Jon said innocent survived bad fruit harvests and determined competitors, before Coca Cola acquired a 90% stake in 2013, valuing the company at £440m.
Moving on to talk about his work as an early-stage investor at JamJar, which counts Deliveroo, Bulb and what3words among the companies it has backed, he said: “In venture capital, hot things tend to move very fast, so you don’t have much time. We’ve done about 50 investments, and 2,000 business plans come in a year.”
Olly Olsen described how the success of The Office Group (TOG), one of the pioneers of modern shared workspace in Britain, reflects a broader understanding that the right workspace adds value to a business and increases its productivity. “If you have the right workspace, you should be able to attract the right talent – because they want to be somewhere they enjoy,” said Olly, talking to the Fast Track camera.
When TOG was founded in 2003 the vision was to create beautifully-designed buildings with a wide variety of workspaces, and to offer tenants progressive membership schemes and short-term leases to allow for growth and change. Today the company has 46 buildings, predominantly located in London and having recently expanded internationally to buildings in Frankfurt and Berlin.
TOG featured on Fast Track 100 between 2016 and 2018, and is an award sponsor of Fast Track 100 for the first time this year.
Rachel Kelley is managing director of Little Freddie, which makes organic baby food and sells it through Amazon, Boots and Ocado, as well as in major retailers in China and in Hong Kong. She underlined the importance to growing businesses of finding team members who are inspired by the company’s purpose.
Charlie Bigham is the founder of Charlie Bigham’s, which makes a range of premium ready-made meals that are sold in retailers such as Waitrose, Ocado and Sainsbury’s. He spoke about how entrepreneurs need to be “obsessive” about finding improvements they can make to their business, and to make many “1%” changes over time, rather than look for a “massive” change.
Oliver Bridge is the founder and chief executive of Cornerstone, which sells men’s toiletries such as razors and skincare products, online using a subscription model. He spoke about how the company is now also selling healthcare products, including medication for erectile dysfunction and hair loss. He said it’s a good time to be in the industry as men are spending more time and money on looking after themselves and their wellbeing.
More information on the Fast Track 100
The 2019 Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 will be published on 1 December with an awards dinner in May.
For company nominations please enter your details here.
For opportunities to meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of these fast-growing private companies, see sponsorship opportunities for Fast Track 100.