These days I’m more of a flexitarian about alcohol than a teetotaller. That’s the ethos for CleanCo too. We’re not saying you shouldn’t drink alcohol; we’re just offering an alternative. Our gin is 1.2% ABV and that 1.2% is there for the flavour – to make sure you are reminded of gin when you drink it. We wanted to create something that was very much like gin, so we made it with juniper, distilled it in the same way, and used cardamom, orris root and citrus.
Eventually you won’t be able to tell the difference. I don’t think anyone has cracked it yet, but we’re evolving our recipes as technology gets better and people develop ways of creating better and better low-alcohol alternatives. We’ve got Clean Gin, Clean Rum and we’re working on a vodka. We’re proud of what we’ve got, but we’re always looking at making them better. That’s not so people have to come back and buy more. We want to be the best. We’re also a startup, so if we get too comfortable, people will overtake us. Everything’s going well, but it can always go better.
For anyone who is thinking about starting a business, the key thing for me was to surround myself with incredibly smart people who could answer the questions I couldn’t. I’d never been CEO of a business before, so this has been a very steep learning curve. Building the team has been as important as the idea and the product. Without people who had experience of business and the market we were in, it would have been so hard to get anything off the ground. Spend your money carefully, of course, but if you’ve had a successful raise, don’t be afraid to spend money to get those key individuals.
My wife Vogue and I had our second child in July. Because I’ve spent a large period of this year working from home, I’ve got to see my family more. Fortunately, I’m rather fond of my wife and we have very much enjoyed each other’s company. We’re not the most socially active couple, so actually lockdown was a terrific excuse to not have to see anyone. I’m married to my best friend, so missing my mates was not a huge issue – I felt like I was surrounded by great company.