Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Frankie Walker, Founder and Owner of Black Pineapple Co, located in Auckland, New Zealand.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the founder of Black Pineapple Co. We started as a premium drinks catering business that has grown into an e-commerce business delivering those same great drinks experiences to those at home. Our e-commerce customer base is predominantly female from wealthier neighbourhoods in Auckland; however, our catering clients range from large corporate firms to luxury designer fashion brands and beyond.
Tell us about yourself
I’ve been in the drinks and hospitality industry for 30 years now and have worked pretty much every role imaginable in this space. I moved to NZ 16 years ago and spent the first 12 years of my work life with NZ drinks giants Lion, first as a brand ambassador for their spirits portfolio, then running a team of ambassador experts across beer, wine, and spirits. With Lion being so heavily involved in music, sport, and activating brands, I used to go to a LOT of events.
Given my background, it always really stood out that the drinks service at events was terrible. Very little choice, drinks served warm, poured hours in advance. Staff who didn’t know what they were doing or what they were serving, and so I started Black Pineapple to change that because fundamentally, I believe that life’s too short to drink shit drinks! I’m super motivated by giving people Wow! moments with every drink we serve or deliver directly via e-commerce. I remember the first time I was blown away by a cocktail made by an expert and served beautifully, and I want as many people as possible to experience that.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am super proud of the way we navigated through the shark-infested waters of Covid. Prior to March 2020, we delivered premium drinks catering for events and were experiencing our 3rd consecutive year of 300% + growth. We went to zero revenue in 10 days and lost a quarter of a million $$’s of events. Within 12 weeks, we’d launched our e-commerce site, giving us essential business status and allowing us to trade through Covid and the various alert levels here in NZ. It’s been a wild ride the last 2 years, but the business is 2.5X the size and now is brilliantly placed as both a B to B and B to C business.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think the hardest thing about being a business owner is the loneliness and, of course, worrying about money!! No amount of whale music will put you to sleep when you don’t know how you’re going to make payroll the next morning and you have 10 staff whose rent depends on it. Until you own your own business, you won’t understand the pressure that you can be under, especially when times are tough.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have a solid business plan - take the time to identify who and what you are, what’s unique and special about you, and what problems you are solving.
- Get expert advice. There were a million things I had no idea how to do (and still don’t!) Use those around you and get experts on your team.
- Be real and know the facts, especially when it comes to $$. Have forecasts, budgets, and sales targets, and use KPIs like gross and net profit & your P&L to ensure you really understand the drivers of your business.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.