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Fever-Tree Tonic Water

Some great business ideas are not hatched at young age just like Facebook. Take for instance, Charles Rolls, the owner of Fever-Tree tonic water w...

 

Some great business ideas are not hatched at young age just like Facebook. Take for instance, Charles Rolls, the owner of Fever-Tree tonic water who created this good business at the age of 40. Here’s the highlights of the article on Times Online:

So, at 40, Rolls decided to make tonic water. He had spotted the opportunity after tasting rival products at Plymouth Gin. “We would mix them with Schweppes tonic and all you could taste was the Schweppes,” he said. “It completely undermined the whole idea of why customers should buy a premium gin.

“The tonic is three-quarters of a drink and it was clear to me that there was a need for a really different tonic water that would enhance, rather than mask, all the flavours of these great gins.”

Friends thought he was mad to launch a product that everybody took for granted. “Most people would just ask for tonic and never give a thought to what the tonic was,” he said. The tonic-water and mixer market is currently worth about £300m, of which Schweppes is the dominant player, with half of the market.

Rolls brought in a partner, Tim Warrillow, and invested £100,000 of his own money to take the majority stake. They spent a year sourcing ingredients — going to Sicily for lemon oil and the Rwanda-Congo border for quinine from the bark of the Cinchona tree, used in the treatment of malaria and other fevers — before launching Fever-Tree tonic water in 2005.

“Our research showed that tonic water is the biggest mixer in Britain,” said Rolls. “We always said it was potentially the silver bullet — if we got it right, everything else would follow. And that turned out to be about right.”

Within weeks of Fever-Tree’s launch, Waitrose placed an order. After five months Rolls launched a bitter-lemon mixer. The range has now expanded to eight.

There have been frustrations along the way, though. “We have been trying to sell to a restaurant in Knightsbridge called Zuma,” said Rolls. “So far we have probably had 25 meetings with them and five years later we are still not at Zuma.”

Despite this, Fever-Tree sells in 22 countries, most notably Spain — one of the biggest markets for gin and tonic. At El Bulli, often cited as the best restaurant in the world, the chef even created a dish in its honour, Sopa de Fever-Tree tonica.