1 Who is the Oppo Ice cream team?
In the beginning, it was just my brother (Harry) and I at my kitchen table. Thankfully we’ve now graduated off the kitchen table and have a real office! There are 10 of us working at Oppo full-time and we have 30 awesome Brand Ambassadors all around the country who lead sampling sessions and help us spread the Oppo word far and wide.
2 Did you have any previous business ventures?
Oppo is our first venture. Prior to starting Oppo, I worked at Diageo and Harry was Head of Marketing for a Google-backed digital marketing course called Squared.
3 What inspired you to get into the healthy side of foods?
In 2011 my brother and I broke the world record for the longest unsupported kite buggy adventure on land. During the trip, we started living off natural foods growing along the Brazilian coastline. This sparked an idea... why can’t the most indulgent foods be healthy? What about ice cream?
From there, I quit my job and set about making ice cream healthy. It then took 25 months of research, three different factories, two specialized food research centres and four grants to develop Oppo. However, I was adamant – Oppo would be healthy… and taste incredible. In October 2014, we launched straight into Waitrose and Ocado and we haven’t looked back since.
4 What has been your biggest challenge so far?
There have been many… but by far the biggest challenge was doing something which hadn’t been done before. For industry professionals, a healthy and indulgent ice cream just wasn’t possible. They had tried and insisted that there would have to be a compromise. However, sometimes not knowing the rules makes it easier to break them.
That’s what we did and we’ve now got a Great Taste award winning ice cream which can also legally be referred to as healthy. So go on, break the rules, just be prepared to learn from the many failures you’ll have along the way.
5 What are your biggest triumphs?
Since launching we’ve had some great successes which include:
* Achieving 700% year on year growth in sales
* Increasing stockings to over 1000 sites across the UK in Waitrose, Co-op, Holland & Barrett, Budgens, Whole Foods and Ocado
* 3 record-breaking crowdfunding rounds. We now have over 1000 investors including Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray
* 2015 Guardian Startup of the Year
* Founding and leading the #DontTaxHealthy campaign which is supported by the National Obesity Forum and over 50 brands across the health and wellness sectors
* Becoming the only dairy ice cream in the UK which can legally be referred to as healthy
6 Why choose crowdfunding for raising funds?
Firstly, a successful crowdfunding round can provide much more for a young business than just investment. Crowdfunding is inherently public and we’ve always utilised this to our advantage – it’s not every day that you have a public platform to shout about the success and potential of your business! On our first and third rounds we hit target within a matter of minutes and on our second we attracted investment from Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray. On each occasion, we used it to secure positive PR which not only raised our brand awareness, but which also showed that we are a growing a viable business.
Secondly, crowdfunding gives Oppo customers the chance to own a part of the company. We now have over 1000 investors who we want to help us shape Oppo’s journey. From helping us with promotions in their local communities to providing feedback on brand propositions we’re keen to make the most of our investor team. They’re part of Oppo.
7 What would you say are the main reasons for your success?
Oppo is a unique product which responds to consumer needs. We all want to indulge. And why not. It’s boring eating clean all the time. Oppo allows the customer to indulge healthily. Appealing to the customer looking for an indulgent ice cream, the parent after a sugar-free treat for the kids, the diabetic searching for an ice cream they can actually eat, and many more.
Fundamentally, Oppo represents innovation in a category which has always mistakenly believed that there must be a compromise.
We also have a fantastic and driven team. Together, we’re punching well above our weight and will continue to do so as we show consumers what healthy indulgence really looks like.
8 How do you see Oppo Ice cream expanding, new flavours, snacks, drinks, vegan?
Oppo is focused on enabling people to be able to indulge healthily.
We’ve proved this with ice cream and don’t want to stop here. If ice cream can be made healthy, what’s next!?
9 Any messages for any aspiring entrepreneurs in the health food industry?
Product is everything. Customer needs are at the core of any product or service you create – if it doesn’t serve the market there’s little chance of success and growth.
You’re small – great! Remember who you are, and act like David rather than Goliath. Don’t conform to the norm, but excite and surprise. If you’re a David, embrace David. Don’t try to emulate Goliath.
And a final thought about being new to your sector and as I hinted at above: if you don’t know the rules it’s much easier to break them. Think differently, that’s your advantage over the corporate machines
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