In the mix

National mobile bar and cocktail service Zest Mixology started trading in January this year and expects to turn over £145,000 in its opening 12 months. talks to founder Murdo McLeod.

What’s the big idea and how did you come up with it?

I have come from a corporate background and I also have history in the music industry but I wanted to try something new using my bar experience working for major spirit brands. I have a network of more than 60 mixologists (cocktail makers) around the UK who do corporate and private events.

How was it financed?

I used £4,000 of personal finance and a £12,000 high street bank loan.

Start-ups getting bank funding are a rarity. How did you manage it?

I liaised with Business Link for six months, attended seminars and then drew up a comprehensive business plan. They went through the plan with me and said it was perfect. I took it to my business relationships adviser at the bank who said it was the best plan he’d ever seen.

I do a lot of background reading and I had read about businesses that had failed to get loans but I was able to reference a similar company that had achieved a loan in the South and was doing well with the model. The manager told me to go away and get a few more projections together, which I did. Eventually they said yes.

How did you market the company?

Google AdWords and search engine optimisation were key. In the private sector the majority of bookings come through word of mouth; people are recommending us to their friends. At every event we also leave behind printed promotional literature which works well.

In the corporate sector we send a lot of emails introducing ourselves and what we do, we also phone venues to try and gauge interest.

How will you scale the business?

The majority of our bookings are in the private sector, but the way to scale it up is opening avenues in the corporate sector. We’ve had some good success so far; we’ve done campaigns for a coffee brand doing roadshows training people how to use coffee machines and how to make non-alcoholic coffee cocktails. We’ve also done campaigns where companies reward staff with non-alcoholic cocktails. There will be a lot more corporate work to come.

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