On 21st September, students and graduates from the University of Exeter will have the opportunity to meet Richard Reed CBE, co-founder of the world’s most famous smoothie company, Innocent Drinks, in a special online Q&A event.
Richard Reed started Innocent Drinks with two University friends – Jon Wright and Adam Balon - and was the mastermind behind building the fun and familiar smoothie brand we know today.
Audience members will have the opportunity to gain inspiration and advice by asking Richard their questions about his business journey live on the call.
Hosted by the Student Startups team, this free and virtual event will kick off this term’s upcoming Student Startups programmes, which support University of Exeter students and graduates in launching their own businesses ventures through a combination of interactive workshops and events, 1-2-1 advising and funding opportunities.
Hearing from Richard first-hand will no doubt inspire budding student and graduate entrepreneurs in the virtual audience, and will get this next year of entrepreneurial activity at the University of Exeter off to a flying start.
The Innocent startup story aligns perfectly with the principles taught on the Student Startups programme at Exeter, which always begins with establishing a problem that needs solving in an entrepreneurial way. In the case of Innocent, – co-founders Richard, Jon and Adam wanted to help busy working professionals to live more healthily and created a simple, easy and delicious way to get nutrients and vitamins that could be enjoyed on the go, with their Innocent smoothie bottles.
The Innocent Drinks market validation story has also become legendary for its simplicity and elegance and is now used as a case study by business schools all over the world, including the Student Startups programme at the University of Exeter:
Richard, Jon and Adam organised a free music festival in a nearby park in order to test their smoothie recipes, where their stand read: “Should we give up our jobs to make these smoothies?”. Customers were asked to try a smoothie and discard their bottle into a ‘YES’ bin or a ‘NO’ bin. By the end of the day the ‘YES’ bin was full and the ‘NO’ bin had just a handful of bottles in it. The three graduates quit their jobs and Innocent Drinks was born.
This example has inspired students and graduates on the University of Exeter Student Startups programmes to adopt similarly affordable and creative methods to gather customer feedback to validate a business idea.
Richard Reed has since gone on to start the Innocent Foundation charity and JamJar Investments, a venture capital company paving the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Nicholas Pearson, Student Startup Programme Officer, said: “Richard is someone who is brimming with creative ideas and I am delighted that he has agreed to join us for this event to share some of his wisdom and inspire our students.”
“Richard and his co-founders have come full circle, from starting out as student entrepreneurs dreaming up inventive schemes, growing a business into an internationally recognised brand and are now investors in new businesses that are just breaking through – including SETsquared Exeter alumnus theUp.co (formerly ChargedUp) – so he knows the whole journey first hand and this event represents a huge opportunity for our students to capture some of that knowledge.”
In line with the Innocent values of creativity and humour, and feeling emboldened by a line in their book where they said they would “choose weird over boring every day”, Nick came up with a witty and original way to grab the co-founders attention and secure this high profile speaker. Read the full story here.
The event will take place online on 21st September at 12pm and University of Exeter students, graduates and colleagues are invited to book their place here. Attendees are invited to submit questions for Richard in advance by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.