This week we caught up with Alex and Bill, the founders of Genie Drinks for our latest ‘Meet the Brands’ session.
- Hi Guys, Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Our customers, I’m sure would love to know more about Genie. Please could you briefly tell us about yourself and your brand?
Like many great things, Genie Drinks was born in a pub garden.
In the summer of 2017, we were sitting in our local’s ‘beer’ garden (The Eagle W12!). But it was a Tuesday and neither of us wanted to drink beer or any alcohol. Nor did we want a sugary soft drink at that exact moment, or ever really. So two warm tap waters it was.
Frustrated by the choices available Alex, fresh from an early career in events & festivals, began to tell his old friend Bill about his delicious homemade fruit sodas while Bill, an armchair entrepreneur with a background in ethical business, started chatting about the power of probiotics for a healthy gut and immune system. As we sipped our tap waters, we wondered: how, with three wishes, could we create the perfect soft drink?
- It would have to taste delicious but grown up so you could savour it.
- It would have to have no added sugar or anything artificial.
- It would have to be gut-healthy, so the drink did you good.
As we sat back and sipped our tap water, we really did wish we had a Genie!
Since that moment in 2017, Genie has grown rapidly and their award-winning drinks, including the UK’s first range of Live Sodas, are now sold in leading retailers, gorgeous cafes, pubs, restaurants, hotels and of course online across the UK and beyond. They really are the drinks we wished for!
- What inspired you to do what you do?
We, as consumers, were frustrated by the choice of soft drinks being marketed to us which seemed to offer premium branding without trust worthy ingredients or supply chains. So we set out to launch our own brand based on three (wishes of course!) pillars: Delicious / Healthy / Ethical.
- What has been the hardest part of starting your business?
There have been many challenges but I don’t think there can be any bigger than navigating not one, but three (!) lockdowns in only our second year of trading.
- Where do you see yourself as a business in 5 years time?
We are on a mission to turn Genie, the healthy soft drinks brand fit for this modern age, into a household name across the UK, Europe and beyond! So in 5 years’ time we hope to be a fair way along this journey!
- How do you deal with competition …what separates you from other soft drink/kombucha brands?
The UK has a thriving start up FMCG scene and we respect all brands who manage to start up and enter this market. That said, we feel the award-winning taste of our drinks separates us to other kombucha brands while we have also created new and unique products, such as the UK’s first live probiotic Sodas, to help widen the healthier and functional soft drink category.
- What advice would you give to new food and drink brands who would like to enter the market?
We’d recommend getting involved in the many networking events (Covid permitting!) hosted by the drinks industry – you meet fellow entrepreneurs to share start up stories and learnings while also hearing from those that have been there and done it!
- One last question for those who don’t know…. What are Kombuchas and Live sodas??!!
- Kombucha is a category of carbonated natural drinks based on an ancient fermented tea recipe. The fermentation process creates natural probiotic bacteria, enzymes and antioxidants that nourish our microbiome which in turn boosts our mood, digestion and immune system. This process also produces an intense flavour profile which is perfect for adults looking for delicious yet healthy soft drinks or alternatives to alcohol. Genie’s three flavours of kombucha are award-winningly delicious!
- Genie Live Sodas are a unique combination of carbonated water, fruit juice and probiotics to nourish our microbiomes. They are a modern healthy version of traditionally sugar filled soft drinks found on menus up and down the country. They are available in classic flavours, Original Orange and Lemon & Ginger, and they deliver delicious classic taste with a probiotic twist. They have no added sugar or other nasties, all while being 100% vegan and naturally low in calories. So they really are the everyday soft drinks we wished for!