We could not be more excited by just what co-founders Paddy and Charlie are bringing to the Twenty Mile Club table, in the shape of PUNCHY Drinks. PUNCHY is the world’s first 4% and 0% abv Spiced Rum Punch in a bottle and they’re launching in Selfridges this Summer 2018. The guys at PUNCHY give great advice for anyone looking to get into the industry, highlighting why it’s important to deliver a solid concept, your course of action for nailing a delicious recipe and also their own insight into investment. Before the sugar police start making their own assumptions we can tell you now PUNCHY is all natural, low in sugar, vegan friendly AND gluten free- wellness seekers rejoice! It won’t be long before you see PUNCHY on the menu at all your favourite London bars and restaurants as well as further afield. We’re excited, you should be too!
Paddy Cavanagh-Butler & Charlie Hobhouse
The Founders of PUNCHY Drinks
If you went to university was it a clear-cut path what you were going to do?
P: I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do. I have a degree in Art History, which is not the most transferable degree! I managed to get an internship soon after leaving university at an ad agency and that turned into my first job.
C: Absolutely not – I went to university because I had no idea what I wanted to do. A very expensive delay tactic in all honesty. I studied Ancient History – which I loved – however if I were to have the choice again I would have chosen a maths or science based subject or not gone at all.
What is PUNCHY Drinks and when did you launch?
C: PUNCHY is the world’s first 4% and 0% abv Spiced Rum Punch in a bottle. It’s low in sugar, vegan friendly, gluten free and all-natural. We’re launching in Selfridges this summer. Very exciting!
How did the idea for PUNCHY Drinks come about?
P: I was on a holiday with some friends last August, and was mixing up rum punch as my cocktail for the week. One of the girls I was with couldn’t drink alcohol, so I made a mocktail punch for her, whilst the rest of the team drank the alcoholic punch. It was a great way of keeping her in the party, as often being the lone non-drinker can be tricky! I got back to London and thought, ‘hey there’s something in this’, then I gave Charlie a call and the ball started rolling!
Have you left full time employment to pursue PUNCHY Drinks full time and if not how do you juggle the two?
P: I’ve been juggling the agency and PUNCHY for about 10 months now. It’s been really hard, but manageable, and having that source of income is so helpful especially living in London. Being organised is key, planning your week every Sunday evening helps massively, and getting up an hour earlier than usual means you can get ahead of the day. Having Charlie holding the fort has helped massively too.
C: I left my last job just as Paddy started to talk to me about PUNCHY – which was perfect timing, in the sense that I could find part time work whilst doing as much as I could for PUNCHY. I still tutor regularly to earn cash and before that I used to be a delivery driver for Farmdrop.
…Plans to leave full time employment in the future?
P: I’m leaving in July to go full time PUNCHY – which means I get to see more of Charlie (yay!).
C: Welcome to the party Pad!
What were the initial challenges in getting the ball rolling for PUNCHY Drinks?
P: Nailing our concept so it wasn’t too confusing for people was pretty hard actually, given we have both ABVs, we had to be quite agile initially and went back to the drawing board a few times. We set ourselves a deadline of May to get everything ready which meant we had to move extremely quickly. Our design team, Duzi Studio, have been absolutely incredible though and have really helped get us to where we are.
Is there anything people should know about when setting up a drink’s start up?
C: Most food and drink start-ups fail because it’s so hard to cut through the noise, with so many big players around who have more muscle power and cash. Make sure your idea is different and solves a problem. Do your research, and address the size of the market. Then nail your story, branding and product and you’re off!
How did you go about getting the taste right for Punchy Drinks and what is the process involved in that?
C: We have an amazing recipe development company down in Brighton called Liquid Fusion who we briefed back in November 2017. They make your idea a reality, and ensure your drinks can be produced economically and at scale, and are also delicious!
Have you raised investment for PUNCHY Drinks and are there plans to raise more?
C: Yes, we finalised a small £30k raise through Start Up Funding Club earlier on in the year. They were actually the first people we pitched to which was amazing! We then self-funded a remaining £20k to get us off the mark, and we’re gearing up for a much bigger raise in the latter half of this year.
Any advice you would give others seeking investment?
P: Only raise if you really, really need to. If you do, get yourself SEIS assurance, get all the copyrights / patents you need, domains bought and social handles etc, and then have as many conversations with people as you can. Start Up Funding Club were great, as well as Virgin Start Up – who do business loans, and for Food and Drink in particular: The Seed Fund, and Cinnamon Bridge are good places to start.
Have you got a mentor and what is the best bit of advice they have given you?
P: We have a Partner Dan, who is our third founding member, he’s 40 something and thought he’d leave this interview to the 20 somethings! He’s a top marketing man so it was a huge win for us getting him on board. We also have a few friends who have been there and done it in the Food & Bev industry, we speak to them as much as we can, and are also looking for a chairman currently. I think the best advice we have got was with regards to starting a premium product, which was: “you can’t go up, you can only go down,” so make sure you start aligning yourself with the right brands and in the right places early on.
Who do you seek out for support and advice (if not a mentor)?
C: Our parents have been amazing, but also the food and drink community is great, everyone is so friendly and willing to help. We have cold called a lot of people and they are so generous with their time. On top of this, we are lucky enough to have friends with start-ups that are skyrocketing and somehow still find the time to talk to us. We often write down everything they’ve said to us down and send it round the team. We try and have as many of those conversations as possible.
Do you ever doubt yourselves?
P: Yes, the whole time. The important thing is to have an idea that you believe in wholeheartedly, something that even two months after you have it, you wake up in the morning and still think it’s amazing. We have never doubted PUNCHY, and that’s what keeps us going.
How are you marketing PUNCHY Drinks?
P: In terms of social, we’re focusing our attention on Instagram, it’s best for engagement and for growing a community. Then we’re doing as many events as possible this summer, when your launching the best marketing is done in person.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently along the way?
C: Learning to actually ask the really stupid and obvious questions. We are new to all of this and we’ve made pretty much every mistake possible. The important thing is not to make them again.
Anything you would tell yourself then, that you know now?
P: I wish I’d known about Charlie’s terrible music taste.
C: I wish I knew my taste was terrible! A lot of failed romances to those tunes…
What’s a typical day for you working on PUNCHY Drinks?
C: Everyday is different. The only constant being our methodology as a team – we (try to) bookend each week with a face to face meeting and talk constantly.
As co-founders what are your different skill sets?
P: My background is in marketing and Charlie’s is in ops so we have those bases covered (ish). We also have Dan, who is a marketing guru and helps cover my base!
Along the PUNCHY Drinks journey have there been any fuck ups along the way- that you can laugh about now/or perhaps still can’t laugh about?
P: There have been a lot of tricky moments we have had to reverse out of, and we’ve had our butts kicked a few times. The worst was probably with the labels, when we realised the ones we had designed couldn’t fit on the bottles that we had lined up, so had to do some very last minute design changes. It was all fine in the end though! Luckily this was discovered before a big production run.
C: You promised not to mention that again!
What has been your best moment so far as a result of setting up PUNCHY Drinks?
C: Seeing the labels fit on the bottle…
P: Ha! Yes, seeing that, but also tasting that first bottle after production was pretty special, I actually got pretty emotional! It was a proud day.
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in the same industry as you?
P: Go for it while you’re young! A mate who has also started a business said to me the other day “the worst thing that can happen is you end up on your parent’s sofa and have to get a proper job again” – which I thought was such a great perspective to take. I always said to myself now’s the time, while you don’t have kids or a mortgage to worry about!
What’s next in the pipe line for PUNCHY Drinks?
P: We’ve got a mad summer ahead… a stand at Taste of London in a week’s time, Henley Regatta, and Goodwood Revival. Then over the coming summer months, we also have events with Shortlist Mag, Luna Mae London, and The Gentleman’s Journal. Very excitingly, we have our proper launch with Selfridges this summer!
C: We’re also developing new flavours, using (between you and us) a spirit base, other than rum, that we’re very excited about.
What’s the dream?
To be able to take our families out for dinner and order a round of PUNCHY’s for the table!
Just for fun
A start up you admire is… Change Please – they train the homeless to be Barista’s and serve coffee around London. Absolutely brilliant idea!
The three things I tend to think about are…
Cashflow, Punch, Food
When I look at my bank statement after a night out I usually… We tend not to look – ignorance is bliss
The Twenty Mile Club is… P: Not the club we thought it was initially… but even better!
Find PUNCHY on their social media handles below