SME Bottling is attempting to raise £530,000 to install equipment to contract manufacture soft drinks on a small scale for startup brands – claiming there is a clear gap in the market.
Nonetheless, the startup’s attempt to raise funding – it launched a Kickstarter appeal in late June – has not been hugely successful to date, with only £1,626 ($2,780) pledged towards that target.
Christopher John, the London-based brains behind the project admitted to BeverageDaily.com that there would be widespread skepticism about making the project pay.
He says he plans to target small businesses and investors using different crowd-funding partners, given what he believes is a bias on Kickstarter towards the US.
"I wanted to see if there was a market near there before I went any further," he says. "It didn't cost me anything, and it's clear the demand is there."
John’s own soft drinks brand Tani-Mola but lost his contract bottler following a management buy-in.
The new management refused to continue making his drinks unless he increased his volumes and order frequency, and stopped making Tani-Mola, and this decision gave John the idea for SME Bottling.
“Normally you’d be looking at 6,000 liters if you’re lucky, but I guess 8,000-10,000 liters is a typical starting point,” he says.
“But it can a challenge for smaller drinks brands stepping into soft drinks. They might want to do 1,000-2,000 liters then gradually build up. Without a client base it can be a bit of a challenge with a bigger run.”
John wants to work with like-minded brands to build up a co-operative-style model and helping them grow their volumes before moving onto larger-volume contract packers. He insists his model could be sustainable.