Raissa and Joyce de Haas, 26 year old sisters, founded Double Dutch about two years ago.
Double Dutch, is a range of natural premium Mixers, that intensify the flavour of spirits and taste great even if drank alone, like a soft drink. They come in unconventional flavour combinations, drawing inspiration from molecular gastronomy.
Finalists in the Varsity Pitch competition in 2016 they are still very much involved in their startup, Double Dutch.
Since founding the company, they’ve grown month on month. In the beginning, they tried to get new customers via LinkedIn and social media but now, since they are growing at a rate of about 20% each month, they are bringing everything much more in house.
They said, “We don’t use a sales agency anymore but have our own full-time in-house sales team, plus full-time marketing and operations staff, which really means that we have motivated and fully dedicated people to sustain our cause while expanding our range.”
Double Dutch started with two products originally, and now they have seven. Whilst the UK is definitely their main market they receive about 50% of their sales income from exports. At the moment they are in about twelve countries, mainly Europe and Asia.
The sisters said, “The Varsity Pitch competition really helped by giving us more credibility, by being part of a wider and well-known competition from the networking point of view.”
They highlighted that it isn’t just a one-off event, “We still hear from NACUE on a monthly basis, to see if we want to participate in any events or if we want to do any talks, so it’s just great to be part of their network.”
Along the way, they’ve had some great moments, “We just sold our two millionth bottle, which has been really exciting.”
Their strategy to win the Varsity Pitch was more to show that there was a longevity in the project and it was not just a shorter hype product.
“We focussed on a fully rounded business plan with a clear strategy and a long term plan, to show our client flow and the profit and loss for the next five years”.
Their advice to Varsity Pitch aspirers is to have a robust business plan. “It would be great if you already have a mock up when you enter the Varsity Pitch, to show that you’ve thought about it, and it's not just a project that you want to do on the side.”
They described NACUE as ‘A good springboard to the next step of your startup.’
Text: Rituja Rao