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MVF Events: Craft Clubs - John Burke

Strategically timed for post Dry January, MVF’s first lunch time session for 2018 kicked off with the co-founder of Craft Gin Club, John Burke.

Craft Gin Club offers quality food and drink brands a powerful new way to reach consumers, both in their homes and online. Founded in 2015, the club boasts 25,000+ paying members, who each month receive a surprise box featuring craft gin from a small, high quality producer, together with complementary mixers, cocktail ingredients and foodie treats, as well as a club magazine.

Summarising the business model, John said: “Booze and snacks - could be worse.”

John met business partner Jon Hulme on a MBA course, he recalled how they instantly connected, spending time at the pub after their training to discuss what kind of business venture the pair could start in the future.

“Could we have taken that qualification and gone into high paying strategy roles - probably,” he said.

“But would we be happy? No.”

The pair went through all the usual start-up challenges - working out of small flats, living off savings, quitting jobs with an uncertain future (Jon quit just four months after having his first child, a move which even John calls mad).

One tipping point for the pair came through a social media post as they were testing the market to see if their hypothesis that they could build a business around the public’s affection for gin - citing the drink as the perfect New Year’s detox drink. When the post started gaining unprecedented traction, the pair new they were onto something.

Another highlight in the Craft Clubs journey was the opportunity to pitch on Dragon’s Den, where they ultimately secured investment from Dragon investor Sarah Willingham - who, as it turned out, was already a Craft Gin Club member!

The four top pieces of advice from John’s talk were:

1. Know your personal ambition - what you want to achieve from your venture, career or project - and give it your total focus

2. If there's something you want to do, get started: “Take the leap somehow, but set yourself up in a way that means you are able to do it.”

3. Surround yourself with supportive and understanding people

4. If you start your own venture, set yourself very small and basic objectives at first - can we set up a Facebook page, can we get a like on one of our posts, can we get a customer?

MVFer Angus Richardson attended the talk and commented: "John was a very engaging speaker - his description of the Craft Gin Club’s rise to success was refreshingly honest and he did not shy away from some of the big hurdles that new business owners face. His talk was definitely very helpful in giving a realistic view of the pros and cons of entrepreneurship! "

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