Start-up Catch-up: The Fix Juice
For any business, reaching the two-year mark is cause for celebration. Failure rates over this period are almost impossibly high – making many wonder whether it is worth starting in the first place.
The good news is that for local cold press juice entrepreneurs, The Fix, the future looks bright. We first met the team last year, and recently caught up with Lucianne Attard while her partner, Jovan Pejic, was off in the warehouse preparing a new batch.
“We’re pretty thrilled to make it this far – although it certainly hasn’t been easy.”
Like all businesses, there have been plenty of challenges along the way, and Lucianne almost looks relieved as she looks back over the last 24 months.
“Obviously, when you start you have a very clear plan. We compiled a 40-page document that laid out exactly what we wanted to achieve. It’s amazing how quickly that plan can change once you enter the operating environment and have to manage the day-today issues of the business. We had to learn fast!”
It’s always interesting to hear about these problems – and how businesses work to overcome them.
“The Fix is a team effort, but at the end of the day it can only sustain one of us not working in a full-time job, and that puts a lot of pressure on our time. Earlier this year we had a family tragedy that involved both of us heading overseas on two separate occasions. The impact on the business was huge – but we simply had no choice but to leave.
“Where we were successful in managing this was the fact we had built really strong relationships with our distributors. They were very understanding. By matching those relationships with a transparent communication strategy around when we could feasibly deliver stock, we were able to address a lot of the problems in advance. Most were very understanding, but it’s certainly not ideal. After all, they’ve all got their own businesses to look after…”
Now, if you think that the tech world moves fast, then brace yourself for the juice market.
“When we started the business, there was one main producer in Melbourne, so the market was primed and ready. Before we new it, there was a huge number of producers across a number of cities.
“As soon as we realised this, we had to ask ourselves, ‘What is now our main point of difference?’ It was no longer cold-pressed juice, so we had to move quickly to redefine ourselves.
“That happened not by chance. We really had to think deeply and quickly about our messaging. We decided to focus on the fact that this is a health plan, and we approached it holistically. Our juices are more than healthy – they’re designed to make you healthier… and no one else was really talking about that.”
After a couple of challenging (though successful) years, the next move involves The Fix heading offshore.
“We believe we’ve got a great product, and now we’re keen to test it in China. There’s obviously increasing interest in Australian food and wine, and there’s a great opportunity for The Fix to be a part of that.
“This strategy has made us look at the product again. What are its strengths? What is this new market looking for? Over the last couple of months we’ve made some major changes to our production facilities in order to set us up for export. It’s exciting, but daunting at the same time.”
For new start-ups, Lucianne has some pretty simple advice: “If you’re looking to launch into a new business, you really need to understand exactly what you want to achieve, and a really big part of that is doing your research.
“Make sure you set aside time and budget to get a very clear understanding of the market and your competitors. That’s going to test the strength of your idea and whether there are customers for your product.
“After that, make sure you’ve got a bit of money tucked away for when things get really tight. You might survive one or two hits, but it’s the third or fourth that might hurt you…
“…and that was a hard lesson to learn!”
Finally, we wondered if there was someone else in Canberra business that Lucianne admired. "That's an easy one - Sasa Sestic from ONA Coffee. I mean, he's built an incredible brand and has been recognised as the best in the world!
"The amount of energy and focus that requires is amazing. To be recognised like that doesn't come easily - only by constantly pushing yourself can your acheive that kind of success. It's something to really admire."