OFF3R caught up with brothers, Harry and Charlie, from Oppo to talk about how their travelling adventures led to building an ice-cream brand that would allow you to indulge, without compromising your health.
How did the inspiration behind Oppo come to light?
The Oppo journey began in 2011, when we went on a Brazilian kite buggy adventure. We survived on coconuts and other wild fruits growing along the coastline. We found they were both deliciously indulgent and incredibly nutritious. This sparked an idea…why can’t the most indulgent foods be healthy? What about ice cream?
Charlie left his job in 2012 and got in the kitchen (while sleeping on Harry’s sofa) to develop what became Oppo. Shortly after, he was joined by Harry. Our mission is to allow you to indulge in proper ice cream without compromising your health. We now have 4 flavours. Ice cream is just the start.
Why ‘Oppo’ (meaning behind the name)?
Oppo stands for opposites. Health and indulgence are normally seen as separate entities. With Oppo, we believe you don’t need to compromise. The most indulgent foods can and should be healthy and we are making this a reality.
As young (and very successful) entrepreneurs, and competing with others in the industry with the ‘age and experience’ factors on their side, do you think this has affected the business and people taking you seriously from day one?
Yes, it was tricky when we were trying to get retailers, factories and packaging suppliers on board when we were starting out. This didn’t really have anything to do with age however, more the fact that at the time we had no track record in food. For us, starting out from a place of inexperience was an advantage. It means you don’t conform to the norm or know what the ‘rules’ are. Yes, experience can be important, but it can also limit success. Experts’ told us that healthy ice cream was impossible and that we should give up. We proved them wrong.
Obviously there are so many options for raising funds nowadays, what made you decide to go down the crowdfunding route and would you take the same approach again?
Oppo customers own part of the company. This simply isn’t possible with other fundraising options. We now have 1,200 investors who help to shape Oppo’s journey (our second round even attracted investment from world tennis number one, Andy Murray!).
Do you have 3 advice tips for other start-ups looking to undertake crowdfunding?
- Have an awesome product and brand, it doesn’t necessarily need to be business-to-consumer but it helps.
- Put together a really good video and don’t worry about making it massively investor / numbers focused – the video is where they buy into the brand and the opportunity
- Hustle loads and speak to people who might be interested in investing early. Keep them informed and send them a simple deck / one pager. Don’t rely on the crowdfunding platform to provide much money at all – instead use it as a platform for your own network to easily have a slice of the company.
If you were starting Oppo today, is there anything you’d do differently?
Not much. That’s not to say everything has gone perfectly, though we have been lucky. But doing anything differently would diminish our learnings. The things that haven’t worked so well have been as useful in learning what works as those that have.
Having said that, we might have chosen something easier than the frozen category to go into! Ice cream really is a tricky thing to make, and move around! Maybe that’s why no-one has really managed to make it healthy – the advantage of something being difficult is that not many people are doing it.
The foodie start-up scene is a bustling one, what 3 tips would you give to someone looking to start out in it now?
- Product is king. Your customer must be at the core of absolutely everything you do. If you don’t serve the market in a way that people will relate to then the chances of success and growth will be significantly reduced.
- Being small is great, and remember this! Don’t conform to the norm but excite and surprise. You are a David, not a Goliath; embrace your inner David and innovate. Don’t try and emulate Goliath.
- Charlie gave a TED talk on why inexperience is your friend and how to harness the power of intelligent naivety. When you don’t know the rule, they’re much easier to break! This is your advantage over the big corporate giants. Make sure you use it.