Virgin StartUp of the Week: Mix & Muddle
Even in markets that seem crowded, there's new ground to be broken. Meet Mix & Muddle, a cocktail event company we funded that focusses on 'cocktails with personality', skill, and making your most exciting bespoke cocktail dreams happen. Being an agile startup gives them an advantage over bigger businesses as they can collaborate and take a hands-on approach with brands. We asked founder Richard a few questions about the business.
Business name: Mix & Muddle
Founder(s) name: Richard Maxted
Loan funds received: £7,000
Based in: London
1. Explain your business in the time it would take a cocktail to be mixed
Mix & Muddle is a cocktail events, design, and staffing company based in London. Our emphasis and ethos is ‘cocktails with personality’; not just in the drinks themselves, but the barmen serving them. I’ve basically found a way to mix creativity, alcohol, and business into a livelihood! Please drink responsibly though.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
Mix & Muddle is based in London, which is simply the most productive and realistic place for a new events company to be. The demand is there, the budgets are there, and in a fast-moving business world, ease of access is crucial for our clients. We’re always willing to travel further afield though!
3. How did you come up with the idea?
Having worked in the events industry for five years, the idea came organically. I was searching for some control in my life, after attempting to crack the impenetrable acting industry, and a cocktail business ticked every box. It’s creative, it’s unique, I could see the potential, and I had complete control over the company’s identity.
4. What’s the business model?
I’m lucky that I’ve picked a reasonably simply business model; direct sales of service and goods. Whether it be providing high-end cocktail barmen, consultancy, or running the entire drinks service for an event, everything is costed out to the client. Growth comes from repeat business, and word of mouth. In particular, the events side of the business will spark the most rewards, as opposed to staffing and consultancy. However, these are still vital to the business model, as they help spread the net wide and far.
5. Who are your competitors?
There are quite a few, but luckily the demand is there for a competitive field! Twist London provides brilliant cocktail barmen, but they also provide many other staffing requirements, therefore not focusing on the best in one area. Sweet & Chilli run cocktail events, but they have been active for 13 years and charge considerably more than us. Instead of competing with these companies, I’ll always explore collaboration first, as two heads and levels of expertise are better than one.
6. What’s unique about your business?
The personalities and attitudes involved. Where other companies will most definitely have more experience and contacts, Mix & Muddle focuses on one-to-one interaction, making each client feel like our only client. Our cocktails also draw inspiration from stories and ideas, as opposed to simply taste and image.
7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
Mix & Muddle had been operating as a sole trader company for one year prior to applying for the loan. This had purely been through staffing and the odd consultancy job though. Resources were needed to grow the events side of the business, and so we approached Virgin Start Up.
8. How have you used it to grow your business?
The loan has helped enormously. The bulk of the loan went towards a van, in order to make logistics for our events 100% easier. Branding for the van was also included as well as new uniform, branding, and some new equipment to jazz up our event bars.
9. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
As we're based in London, our loan is delivered directly by Virgin StartUp.
10. Biggest achievement so far?
Ooh, good one. I’d have to say it was designing a bespoke cocktail for the launch of the new James Bond fragrance! Taking all the fragrance ‘notes’ from the head, the body, and the base of the fragrance, and transferring that into a cocktail. The final cocktail was called ‘SEVEN’, and contained Vanilla Vodka, Cinnamon, and Bergamot, with smoke essence and orange bitters. Lush!
11. What’s next for your business?
More of the same, but bigger, better, and more frequent than before. But seriously, I want the events side of the business to grow to a point where we’re doing an event a week, on top of the staffing and consultancy, and I'd love to develop a festival pop-up cocktail bar!