For this episode of Secrets for Scaling, we talked to Drew Bilbe, Co-Founder and CEO of Nexba, Australia's first naturally sweetened Cola, Lemon and Orange Sparkling Infusions. Nexba was inspired by naturally sweetened teas in Mexico when Drew was studying abroad. Seeing the anti-sugar movement sweeping the globe, he spotted a gap in the Australian market for healthy, natural teas and soft drinks and knew they could be first to market.
Today, they're leading the way for naturally sugar-free soft drinks in Australia, having grown 300% in 2016 alone. They did the research, put in the hours, built a support network, and stayed focused on their vision. Hear their entire story in the full episode below!
You have to put in the hours in the early days. In the earliest days of bootstrapping a company, especially if you’re in school or working another job, you simply have to work hard and put in the hours. It’s important to lay a foundation that will allow for work/life balance for your future team members. But that often requires putting in the hours in the beginning.
A support network is crucial. Having friends and family volunteer their time and understand Drew and Troy’s dedication to launching the company was crucial for their focus and success.
Don’t be afraid to knock on doors. Drew and Troy didn’t hesitate to ask big executives out for coffee to discuss the topics they were less knowledgeable of, and the answer was almost always yes. This is how they learned about the business side of manufacturing.
Get a mentor. The owner of a business in the food and beverage manufacturing space became a minor shareholder in and a mentor of Nexba, playing a big role in their early success.
Focus on what you’re good at, outsource the rest. Nexba sees sustainable growth because they focus on the areas they’re good at internally - like innovation and marketing - and outsource the rest. This approach allowed them to gain a foothold in the market.
Check progress with quarterly executive strategy sessions. The founding team spent much time in the early days defining the future of the company and what their vision and goals were. Now, they meet quarterly to make sure they’re on track and to remove any roadblocks in the way of reaching them.
Keep your team focused with real-time metrics. Nexba uses Geckoboard TV dashboards throughout the office to share their most important metrics with the team so that everyone has their finger on the pulse of their progress. The sales team are especially driven by the TV dashboards and have been visibly less focused when the dashboards were down.
Consider weekly standups for consistent focus on the company mission. To keep the team focused on the company’s goals on a week-by-week basis, Nexba has stand-up meetings every Monday morning. They use this time to ensure everyone knows what they should be working on that week, if they need help, if they should shift their focus, etc.
Engage with your audience by telling your story in a genuine way. Nexba has always stayed true to their brand and vision. They’re just average, relatable Aussie guys. Being true to themselves and their brand has resulted in more engaged and loyal customers.
**Believe in your idea and stick with it**. Starting a business is a roller coaster. Build a support network to sustain those highs and lows. Find mentors and believe in your vision to keep you going through the tough points.