Building a Start-Up With Technology By Adam Soliman Director Charbrew
Last week I attended Microsoft UK’s annual company meeting to talk about how technology has supported the growth of many small UK businesses, including Charbrew, during a time of vast economic uncertainty. Microsoft also opted to use the event as an opportunity to get a consumer perspective on their products and services in order to enhance their support of the recent wave of new British businesses.
For anyone, like me, who opted to launch a new business venture during the midst of a recession, maintaining economic stability and a healthy turnover was always going to be a challenge. However, technology such as Skype has enabled start-ups to cut unnecessary costs through outsourcing both manufacturing and services overseas.
Building Trust Over Distance
Even in today’s technology savvy world, the notion of developing trust and building relationships through face to face contact is still a vital ingredient of many business agreements. Skype has enabled me to build strong business contacts abroad without the added costs and inconvenience of international travel.
At Charbrew, I am keen to ensure that we’re providing our customers with the best standard of product and packaging available on the market, but unfortunately to achieve this using a UK tea manufacturerjust isn’t economically viable, and so for that reason we outsource this process to Sri Lanka. Having only recently visited our manufacturers this Summer – more of which you can read about here – much of our business relationship has been established over copious amounts of telephone calls, video conference calls and email exchanges. Without the opportunity to have face to face conversations with the people with whom Iam working, I’m not sure I would’ve been comfortable outsourcing the production of our products to people I’d never met, from a country I’d never visited.
Flexibility is Key
I spend much of my time working out of the office; whether this is out on the road, from the IOD, or even from the most conveniently located coffee shop, technology is an absolute godsend for mobile workers such as myself – Skydrive being one of my most commonly used favourites as it allows me to access key documents from any location, enabling me to pull up spreadsheets, sales figures or marketing reports through a quick tap of my smart phone. Remote working is key driver in being more efficient reacting to customers requests and driving innovation. Here are a few key facts: -
- Over 15% of the EU workforce can now be described as a mobile worker, meaning they spend more than 10 working hours per week away from home and their main place of work
- In the UK, two-thirds of all mobile workers are men
- 87% of managers report increased of productivity of between 5-25%, as a result of remote working
- 65 per cent of employers said flexible working practices had a positive effect on recruitment and retention
Be First To Market
At Charbrew, we know that our authentic and eye catching packaging is a key part of our initial appeal with consumers. Supermarket shelves are becoming increasingly crowded, so it was always essential that we sourced a high quality design agency to assign the task of helping us stand apart from our competitors. To achieve this, we opted for an agency based in Wales, with whom initial contact had been made over Linkedin.
I have never visited their studio, nor met any of the designers, yet through telephone and email exchanges, I have developed strong working relationships with all of the team working on the Charbrew account – they understand the brand, they understand what our customers want and they understand exactly how it is that we want our packaging to look. Packaging designs are sent across to me and after discussing my feedback and the reasoning behind their choices, they then begin working on any proposed alterations straight away, preventing any delays that could arise from us having to find a convenient time when we could all be present in the same location, not to mention the inconvenience of travel time. From here I then connect final proof designs via email to manufacturers in Sri Lanka who then turn new concepts into physical products.
The Future Start-Up Business
At Thursday’s meeting, Microsoft also unveiled further technological advancements that will enable mobile workers to further build their businesses without the need to be in the office or have to travel overseas.
From a UK business owner’s perspective, the increased opportunities that have arisen from services such as Skype, Sky Drive, Dynamic CRM and E-mail are immeasurable. Microsoft’s dedication to developing innovative business solutions for mobile workers has provided small businesses with the opportunity for growth in the midst of a tough economic climate, and for that I am extremely grateful.
Traditional tea goes off the boil as Britain opts to get fruity
For anyone who’s ever passed a construction site it’s probable that along with the stereotypical wolf whistles and high vis jackets, you’ll have encountered the familiar scene of a builder’s tea break - and let’s be honest, it’s a far cry from the image portrayed in Diet Coke adverts…
However, if recent reports are to be believed, this may be set to change, as tea drinkers are apparently now turning their backs on the traditional ‘builder’s brew’ in favour of more exotic, and ultimately healthier blends.
Frequently described as ‘comfort in a cup’, the traditional English cuppa has long been regarded as a common fixture in the daily routines of many. However, a recent report by The Grocer has revealed that, with the exception of Yorkshire Tea, sales of traditional tea have remained static over the past year, whilst those of fruit and herbal varieties are, by contrast, steaming ahead…
And according to Charbrew founder Adam Soliman, don’t be surprised if this is reflected in the contents of cups on construction sites,
“Men no longer feel emasculated from clutching a cup of camomile. Plenty of Sports stars’ social media sites are abundant with images of fruit and herbal teas that they’re keen to advocate - Matcha being the most recent favourite.“