How to scale up manufacturing as a startup
Startups - they grow up so quickly. One minute you're happily pottering in your kitchen, taking boxes or bags of your wares to whoever will have them - the next you're having to make big decisions about scaling up your production, and dealing with manufacturers and suppliers. It's a learning curve, but it doesn't have to be painful.
Jim Cregan is the founder of Jimmy's Iced Coffee, one of the UK's leading iced coffee brands. From experimenting with coffee at home to winning contracts with Tesco, Waitrose and more, they've gone from startup to major player - so they know a thing or two about scaling up your operations. We asked Jim a few questions about his journey.
What was the process of creating your first iced coffees?
My sister had a coffee shop which we decided we’d use to knock up our first ever iced coffees. We then brought in a heap of people and asked them to try it.
When you make a product at home, do you need special certification / licensing?
It depends on who you’re going to sell it to. If it’s to friends, probably not as they trust you. If it’s to a supermarket (unlikely from home!) then yes, you’ll need all the right stuff in place. It’s good to get it all under your belt no matter who you’re selling to though.
When was your first big order, and were you prepared for it?
Our first big order was from Waitrose. I remember thinking "WOW!" We were prepared for it as we were already working with a large manufacturer.
When did you move production to a bigger scale / space?
We did this to begin with. Once we had established that we were going to start this company, we went out and found someone to make our stuff.
What equipment do you use?
We use an A3 Flex machine!
Roughly what’s the process like now for creating the coffees?
Exactly as it was when we first made it. I’m not going to explain too much but imagine making a coffee at home and whacking it in the fridge. It’s pretty much like that.
Are you still hands-on with the manufacturing?
Not at all. We will occasionally visit our production company but it’s really all taken care of.
What was your biggest scaling-up challenge?
Having the dollar to do it in the first place. Cash flow is a KILLER!
What are the most important things when producing on a large scale?
Cash flow, production forecasts, concrete orders from supermarkets and communication. Without these, there will be blood. I mean, trouble.