A chance meeting at a bootcamp class set in motion a whole new business journey for entrepreneur Kath Jones.
As an owner of a marketing agency Kath would often be at events and parties, drinking her favourite prosecco – realising this was not helping her maintain a healthy lifestyle, she had long had the idea of creating a low calorie, low sugar version of the bubbly drink.
Bonding with others at the weight-loss bootcamp led to a chat with a woman from London who not only loved the idea but as an investment banker was in a position to help with a start-up loan and ThinK Wine was born.
Finding a winery that could produce prosecco this way proved difficult. Kath, from Aigburth, and her investor flew to Italy many times, visiting over 50 wineries before finding ‘the one’.
Kath explained: “Our ultimate aim has always been to produce a drink with amazing taste and flavour. When producing prosecco there is a moment when the product has zero sugar and most prosecco blends add sugar to these final stages to make the drink more palatable. We were keen to let the flavour of the grape to come out and add significantly less sugar, it was also important for us to make the product vegan friendly – so instead of using animal products in the clarification process, we used a protein extracted from green peas, making ThinK Wine 100% plant-based”
After taking official tests to get the required licenses, a lengthy interview with HMRC, Kath also felt she needed assistance with forecasting and establishing budgets to ensure the business was on a sound financial and operational footing; through Growth Platform’s New Markets 2 ERDF Programme funding, Kath was able to secure a grant towards the cost of an interim Finance Director. ThinK Wine was finally launched, after 18 months in development, selling their first bottles in September 2019.
Hospitality and online sales were the two initial targets, with Kath selling to bars, hotels and restaurants in Liverpool and Manchester and signing with two large distributors. Six months later, Covid-19 arrived forcing a nationwide lockdown. Despite this, online sales thrived – helped by people being at home and wanting a healthier version of their favourite drink, and a number of influencers also promoting the drink on social media.
Kath continues: “The brand now includes a sparkling rose and has launched in Ireland and this year will expand into Australia and USA. One other exciting development has been the invitation to appear in a new Amazon Prime show, The Social Movement, that brings together CEO’s challenged with four days to change the world through philanthropy. I was slightly hesitant at first when the producers approached me but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about my own product in front a panel of billionaires. Plus filming there will hopefully give me the chance to do some face-to-face selling in LA!
“This past year has created challenges for all businesses, we have managed to adapt and created new ways to expand and I’m looking forward to taking ThinK Wines onto that global stage!”
The Liverpool City Region New Markets 2 Programme is receiving up to £14,618,107 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department of Levelling up Housing and Communities (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding