Ben is the co-owner and co-creator of Cranes along with his twin brother Dan. After the usual University exploits they began experimenting with the creation of their own Cranberry Cider, those experiments gave them the skills and confidence to go on and launch a great new brand called Cranes.
Their business has grown quickly and has now expanded into producing three delicious flavoured Ciders, and also a tasty liqueur.
Thanks for your time today Ben, can you tell us how Cranes began?
The inspiration came whilst I was at university in Exeter, the heart of the west country, enjoying the copious amounts of ciders they had to offer. Daniel was up in Leeds drinking anything and everything. Cranberry’s being notoriously healthy lead Daniel to drinking cranberry juice to compensate for all the unhealthy drinking he was doing. Once Dan and I were reunited we brought those two things together, and it all started from there.
Did you always plan to start a business after leaving Uni? Did you try any other businesses before settling on Cranes?
It was never set in stone that we were going to set-up a business when we finished Uni. But I think subconsciously I always wanted to set up my own business and have had entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age. I remember when I was 12 I tried to get a job as a paper boy but you had to be 13, so I started a little car washing business making flyers and washing cars at people’s houses. I did this while Daniel set up a gardening business charging £2.50 per hour (at the time and our age it seemed a lot of money). Then in my gap year before university I made an online e-commerce site selling cufflinks.
How did you identify the niche in the market for an alcohol for the more health-conscious consumer?
It was something we recognised being the more health conscious consumer. Me and Daniel have always enjoyed keeping fit and healthy along with playing rugby we would always look for a healthier option. After we came up with the idea, the more people we talked to, the more we realised there was a demand for it.
Tell us about your decision to crowdfund through Seedrs. What were the challenges, and how quickly did you realise that the funding would be achieved?
One of the biggest challenges is finding the initial investors before you launch your campaign and then keeping the momentum going once you go live. We are both young and have only recently entered into the business world, so our contact list was full of potential investors. I think about after a week I knew we would likely hit the target, but until you actually get there you just don’t know. I never thought we would double our target so quickly.
How did you go about creating the drink, was it in a production/lab environment or in a kitchen to start with? Had you ever made any alcohol before?
To start with we were brewing it up at Uni, and then continued at home in our kitchen. But when we were close we did reach out for some professional help with a food technician to finalise the recipe. The only time we brewed before then was when we attempted to use a home brew kit to make our own Beer. We didn’t quite master that, but it was definitely alcoholic.
How important is branding to your business, and how did you identify what Cranes’ brand approach would be?
Like any FMCG, branding is imperative, and it took us a while and many attempts to get to where it is today, it was important that the brand represented us and came across as crafted. The Cranes brand approach will always be defined by our target consumers.
What’s it like working with your twin? Are there challenges and arguments or do you generally get on well?
We do generally get on really well, and both have the same mentality and drive. And the good thing is when the other person has a bad idea you can tell the truth rather than just putting them down politely.
What are the next steps for Cranes as a business? Do you have your eyes on any new products in particular or new markets?
The main focused for us now is establishing our brand and product in our markets and taking market share. As entrepreneurs there are always new ideas and products flooding in, but we need to focus on our current products.
Where can readers buy the products from, and also how can they find out more about Cranes?
At the moment the easiest place to buy us would be our website www.drinkcranes.co.uk, although this year our distribution is ramping up and hopefully you will see us popping up all over the place. We post regular updates and behind the scenes footage on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can find all of our social media channels on our website. On YouTube and Facebook we post weekly vlogs which will be starting again in Feb, giving our followers a glimpse of what it’s like running a start up drinks company.
Thanks for your time Ben!