Our first site at Saatchi & Saatchi
Our second site at Circle Gym, North London
Launch event in 2005
Hi I’m Richard Canterbury the founder of The Love Taste Company.
In 2003 I found myself in Geneva at a pet food conference. It was so incredibly dull and as I looked around the auditorium I realised that I was the youngest by 20 years. Seeing a rather dull life mapped out in front of me I took the decision to do something else and I started sketching out some business ideas on the plane home. Four months later I resigned from my job.
Through a friend of a friend I met a like-minded business partner and started work at her smoothie stall in Borough market as our first step in conquering the world. Anything felt possible. People would queue for ages just to get one of our smoothies and I started to realise we were really on to something.
Unfortunately our visions for the future turned out to be poles apart and we parted company but at the same time I had an offer to build a smoothie bar in the new £1m reception at Saatchi & Saatchi…the company I had just resigned from! I had no recipes, no equipment, no brand and I was terrified of becoming a laughing stock in front of people who knew me. But luckily they were reasonably forgiving and we launched at the end of August and the smoothie bar was immediately a success. Love Smoothies was born!
Next I needed an office, which I got in Westbourne Studios, sharing with it with a friend’s company. But not long afterwards the company went bankrupt and I went back to working from my living room and running the smoothie bar at S&S. It was terribly lonely, particularly towards Christmas when smoothie sales dwindled, and I seriously considered whether I’d done the right thing. Having to remortgage my flat just to ensure I could eat, whilst my ad-land friends were complaining about having too many Christmas parties to go to.
Through sheer perseverance I came across a small gym chain in London who wanted a smoothie bar, so I did a bootstrapped version and launched it towards the end of the 2005 followed by a small organic café chain. It was moderately successful but as I was using 10kg bags of single fruits and getting staff to measure out exact quantities into the jug before blending. There were major issues with human error, portion control, cost control, inconsistent products and slow service to name but a few.
I started going into some of the sites and putting the correct proportions of fruit into a bag and putting it in the freezer, with a freezer tie. Now all the barista had to do was open the freezer, take out the bag, cut it open and blend it with juice to make a smoothie. Not only did this de-skill the operation but it allowed anyone to make the smoothie and the customer got a consistent smoothie every time. This was my light bulb moment and the Smoothies ‘Made-Easy’ TM concept was born.
I re-mortgaged my flat for a second time and signed up to do the largest Food & Drink tradeshow in Europe (Hotelympia) which generated over 350 customers who wanted the product. Now I just had to create it!
It took 5 months to find a factory that could produce what we wanted and to find a logistics company that would deliver the product to our customers. Everything was set but at the last minute the logistics company pulled out because we were too small. I couldn’t believe it. We had customers calling up on a daily basis wanting the product and I couldn’t deliver – it was incredibly frustrating.
It was at this point that I hired my first employee. She was a friend of my then girlfriend (now wife) and through the hot summer of 2008 we finally started to sell frozen smoothie sachets. It felt like an incredible achievement but we didn’t really have time to reflect as we had to sell smoothies whilst the sun shone.
The business now really did require money as I needed to employ a team, rent an a new office, buy office furniture and pay suppliers. It took 18 months to raise the funding and then the financial crisis happened. Unbelievably bad timing, but by being extremely cost conscious we made it through.
Since 2010 we have grown rapidly and we now supply over 5,000 customers in the UK including: Pret a Manger, Virgin Active, Ocado and Sainsbury’s and internationally we supply 25 markets such as: Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Scandinavia and Australia.
We have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic people including Michelin-Stared Chefs and great Nutritionists, who’ve helped us develop our range of drinks, to include award-winning fruit teas, frappes and bone broth. So it felt like the right time to rebrand the company so that all of our drinks fell under one brand – hence The Love Taste Company was born.
It’s the same company, same ethos, just a different name. We are still just as focused on continual innovation and we’re doing what we love. It’s been an amazing journey but I genuinely feel it’s only just begun!
PS – If you made it this far, thank you for reading!