Recently graduated and with their own exciting business founded and running, Alex Hoppenbrouwers and Thomas Woolf are testament to where energy, talent, determination and enthusiasm can get you. We sit down to find out more.
Can you tell us a little bit about Hopps and Woolf – your product, your motivation for establishing the company, where/how it all began, where you sell, who are the founders and what are your backgrounds?
Inspiration struck when Tom, who studied engineering at Bristol University, was tasked with coming up with a business idea as part of a project. Tom knew a girl from China who created soya and nut milk at home and, after trying the milk, he found it was far better than the shop-bought milk he had encountered before, and didn’t contain the additives and preservatives.
He mentioned this to Alex, who had a business background, and together we set about creating the Milk Maker. The Milk Maker creates fresh nut and soya milk. It works by blending and gently pasteurising the ingredients, allowing you to store the milk in the fridge for up to five days. Without this gentle pasteurization, it only lasts a couple of days. It is this convenience factor that was key in the design of the Milk Maker; we wanted something that would enable your typical busy person to drink fresh nut milk everyday.
How did you go about first building the Hopps and Woolf milk maker – and did you have to go through lots of prototypes?
Yes, many prototypes and re-designs.
Where is the Hopps and Woolf milk maker manufactured/packaged and how did you go about deciding on where to do this?
It is manufactured in China and packaged by hand in London by Tom. We decided to manufacture in China because of the expertise in creating similar machines (soya milk makers). We felt these factories were best placed to make nut milk makers. We chose to pack them by hand because we alter what accompanies the Milk Maker. We also want to be able to have that last point of quality control to make sure everyone is absolutely satisfied!
What were the biggest challenges in taking your product to market?
Our biggest challenge was most definitely regulation and getting that absolutely right. It was something we were very cautious of because the consequences of getting it wrong can be severe. The CE marking, specifically, was an area that required extensive work.
Our biggest challenge was most definitely regulation and getting that absolutely right. It was something we were very cautious of because the consequences of getting it wrong can be severe.
What would be your top advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Focus on making technology a key part of your offering. Try to make your product as defensible as possible from a technological perspective. Also, make sure you also draw on advice from people who have been there and done that, and those that have expertise in specific areas. You will be surprised at the amount of experienced people who will be willing to offer their time for free.