The Enterprise Nation member helping to protect migrating birds one sip of coffee at a time

The Enterprise Nation member helping to protect migrating birds one sip of coffee at a time
Guy WilmotBird & Wild RSPB Coffee - Fairtrade, Organic, Bird Friendly, Shade Grown

Posted: Fri 15th Jun 2018

According to the Smithsonian's National Zoo, three-quarters of the world's coffee farms destroy forest habitat to grow coffee in the sun and typically use harmful pesticides. To help, the institution created a 'Bird Friendly' certification for coffees grown in the shade that don't impact on the forests.

Bird & Wild is one of the brands to achieve the certification and its founder and Enterprise Nation member, Guy Wilmot, shares his story.

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Describe your business.

A Fairtrade, organic, shade grown and bird friendly coffee brand that helps protect migrating birds at coffee origins and at home in the UK through a partnership with the RSPB, the charity to which we de donate 6% of sales.

How did you come up with your idea and turn it into an actual business?

I've worked in the coffee industry for 12 years and been involved in everything from coffee sourcing to importing and roasting.

I've been involved with launching several coffee brands for other people and wanted to try my hand at doing it myself. I've been lucky in that I've had the experience of launching coffee brands before, so it wasn't my first go!

I'd noticed that Bird Friendly and Shade Grown Certifications, which are issued by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, were becoming increasingly important and well known in North America.

So, though there have been several coffee companies that have tried to promote these certifications in the UK, I wanted to really bring the idea of shade grown and bird friendly concept to the UK via the Bird & Wild coffee brand and make an impact by partnering with RSPB in the UK.

At the same time, I wanted to offer a coffee range that was also relatively affordable. Ethical and environmentally conscious coffee is generally very expensive, but with Bird & Wild (RRP £4.49) we've managed to get the price point down to a more democratic price point for retailers and consumers alike.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

We're in here for the long haul, so I guess the biggest challenge is sticking at things for a long time.

I know from experience of launching other coffee brands that it takes twice as long and costs double what you thought, but persistence, hard work and passion wins the day (if the product is good and people actually want it).

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Our partnership with the RSPB charity. They were very passionate about the concept when we came to them and have been very supportive.

They are selling Bird & Wild through RSPB shops and often invite us along to serve coffee at events, which has really helped us launch the brand.

That and our launch of the coffee range with Ocado.

What is your next business goal?

We're spending a lot of time on foodservice and reaching out to businesses to offer a truly environmentally conscious coffee solution for their office coffee service and sustaining diversity one cup of coffee at a time.

This has proven very challenging as there's a monopoly of foodservice companies that serve most big companies and it's ringfenced much to the frustration of many corporates who actually would like to have a brand like Bird & Wild in their office.

Having said that, we thrive through partnerships, so are looking to actually work with those big foodservice companies, so they can up their game when it comes to the environment and coffee. If one is reading this, please get in touch!

I would say the one thing we are all truly passionate about these days is the environment, so it's actually good for these big businesses to care a lot more where the cup of coffee they are drinking every day comes from.

Luckily, our hard work is starting to pay off and we became guest coffee at Linklaters London Office recently, which we are really proud of and thank Linklaters for the opportunity, as well as serving coffee at several other FTSE 250 companies and some charities as well.

What are your three tips for business success based on your experiences so far?

Start with a great product that people want to actually buy. For example, I see a lot of quality relishes and dips coming on the market, but I'm not sure how many people really want to consume them.

Get creative and try different tacks. I come up with all sorts of wacky ways to pitch businesses and a lot of them don't work, but you never know until you try. Also, quite often that approach you tried might work a year or two later when someone remembers you and gets in touch.

Sales is the most crucial role. You've got to spend more of your working time on sales and marketing, so try and automate and outsource stuff that it's not essential for you to do.

And the old fashioned way of talking to people, emailing and writing letters to people is still the most effective. Trade shows can be effective, but they are very hit and miss these days. There are too many trade shows, which have diluted their effectiveness.

_**Join Enterprise Nation today and become part of an amazing community of small business owners.**_

Guy WilmotBird & Wild RSPB Coffee - Fairtrade, Organic, Bird Friendly, Shade Grown
Bird & Wild RSPB Coffee - Fairtrade, Organic, Smithsonian Institute Migrating Bird Friendly, Shade Grown, 6% of all sales are donated to the RSPB Charity. Listed on Ocado. Looking for distributors, cafes, retailers.

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