Virgin StartUp of the week: Smith & Sinclair

We love products that are a bit different. So when we funded Smith & Sinclair, creators of delicious alcoholic fruit pastilles, we knew we had to know more (and try a few). Jelly shots have never seemed so passé - these are a fun and boozy treat for grown-ups! We spoke to founders Melanie Goldsmith and Emile Bernard to find out more...

Richard B in lift

We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? Please answer the questions below, keeping each answer to five sentences max. 

Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does

We are the world’s first Cocktail Confectioners. We produce deconstructed cocktails in the form of pastilles; they are a non-dairy, ambient confectionery product, with over 5% ABV per pastille. Five and you can’t drive!

Floor 1 to 2 - Where are you based?

North London mostly, on one of the most unusual sites imaginable. Sometimes we venture over to Shoreditch.

Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?

We have 4 core members of the team – 2 of which are founders (the chef and business lady). We sell our packaged product in premium stores but also offer consultancy services – working with alcohol/ corporate brands to conceptualize and bring to life edible alcoholic products and unique confectionery. We also get involved in a lot of hospitality and bespoke projects, supplying our packaged product to hotel groups and airlines.

Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?

We are bridging the gap between the food and beverage industries, forging an entirely new market for 'edible alcohol'. We produce a cocktail, which is consumed through a solid form product, rather than a liquid. For consumer-spend our main competitors are gourmet confectionery companies such as Jealous Sweets and Hotel Chocolat.

Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?

We have the only retailabe product that retains such a high volume of alcohol, with a shelf life of 12 months. We own a patent on the product and process; this will aid our expansion, so that we are ahead of the competition in the edible alcoholic markets.

Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?

The Cocktail Pastilles were originally created as an ‘ice breaker’ to have at our series of adult play dating nights, focused on board games and uninhibited allure.  We wanted guests to be surprised on arrival, with something multisensory, to encourage conversation and stimulate nostalgia with a grown up kick.

Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?


Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?

We couldn’t have gotten through our first Christmas without the funding. It was invaluable to have the cushion for cash flow, with a lot of our stockists having 60-day payment terms. The funding allowed us to maximize our production and sales at our busiest time of yet.

Floor 8 to 9 – Who’s your Virgin StartUp Mentor?

David Franks, Glacia – absolute hero!!

Floor 9 to 10 – What’s your workspace like?

wirkspace 1

Currently working out of Shoreditch House today….

Floor 10 to 11 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time?

In 12 months we aim to have outsourced the majority of our production as we are scaling up at a pretty fast rate. We will be stocked in a minimum of 15 hotel groups, 1 airline and hopefully retailing in Wholefoods, Ocado and Booths.

Connect with Smith & Sinclair on Twitter.

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