28 Jan 2021 | Student Advice

With many people now choosing to cut down, or even stop drinking alcohol altogether, there has been an increasing demand for more non alcoholic drink options. One company that’s bringing out a new drink to cater to this growing number of people is Basic Booch. In this Q&A we asked founder Ben Wood what the driving force was behind him starting Basic Booch, and how he manages setbacks. Here’s what he had to say…

Tell us about your business.
On 1st January this year I launched my drinks brand, Basic Booch. Basic Booch is a booze free brew with a flavour that is bold and bright with a tangy bite. It has the look and the attitude of a craft beer, and with all the same refreshment, drinkability and sociability as sharing a beer with friends. But it’s not a beer: Basic Booch is a ‘session kombucha’, which means it’s naturally brewed not to leave you with a hangover. As we say on the can: “tastes banging, no hanging”.
What was the driving force behind your business?
Basic Booch’s mission is to make booze free drinking as tasty, sociable and iconic as a pint, for people who aren’t choosing alcohol. In short: to make a brew for all of us. It’s a mission that is all about inclusion. So many fun moments in life are dominated by beer, from gigs to sports to barbecues, and even a lot of house parties. We want everyone to be able to get involved, whether they want to drink alcohol or not.

There is also a personal driving force behind setting up the business. Like many people who feel entrepreneurial urges, I have spent years having good ideas that I’ve written down and forgotten about. And then someone else comes along and does them! I was fed up of this pattern, so a year ago I challenged myself to take action and start taking Basic Booch seriously. It’s been my dream to work for myself, so I’ve got a lot of motivation to make this a successful, sustainable and profitable business.

What are your core business values?
With a mission like ours, ‘inclusive’ is obviously our top business value. Another of our values is ‘no nonsense’. As a brand, Basic Booch is, well, basic! Everything about what we do should be straight-forward, honest and open. Finally, we want what we do to be ‘done right’. It is unthinkable to start a company in 2021 and not carefully consider its impact on the world. We build environmental and social sustainability into every decision we make.


How do you overcome setbacks?
The old story you hear about starting a business being a rollercoaster ride – it’s true! My business is very young but there were still plenty of setbacks even getting to launch day. I approach these moments by reminding myself of the bigger picture, and try to focus on achieving outcomes that will still mean a step in the right direction, even out of a bad situation. This helps me to think of alternative ways of approaching a problem and puts me in a constructive and creative frame of mind.

But of course it isn’t that easy. The emotional highs and lows you get when you start a business can be tiring. I know that getting exercise helps me, so I focus on going out for a run or a walk in the countryside. It’s not easy in Covid times, but I find that getting out of my environment when things get tough is really refreshing and can make all the difference.

If you had one piece of advice for students setting out their own business what would it be?
Most people with a great idea for a business never end up taking the first, most important step: going from nothing to something. To turn your idea into “a thing” you should start by writing down the practical steps it will take to make it happen.

Your focus should be on “minimum viable product” (MVP). This is a term often used in the tech industry, but it is applicable to any business, even if you’re not selling products. If you try to conquer the world from day one, you may never actually get to day one because the challenge is not practical. So, work out what the MVP is for your business and initially aim for that. When you reach it, you can continue to build, develop, and innovate to achieve your world-beating vision, and by that point you will have people around you – partners, customers, suppliers – who will help you drive the business forward. But in order to actually start, you need to have an achievable idea of where to start from.

Are there any other brands outside of your sector that you are following at the moment?
In the sector next to mine, alcoholic drinks, I am always interested in what BrewDog are doing. Their business and brand have been pushing boundaries since they first started, and sometimes in very interesting ways. In the past they could be a bit brash, but that’s all part of it – it’s not just image. Their business model, products and values all live up to their revolutionary brand. It’s been fascinating to see them embrace sustainability over the last year in the only way they know how – full throttle! They are really thinking creatively about how to make a product that is all about enjoyment in a way that does good.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I think starting a business during lockdown from a global pandemic is something I can always be proud of, no matter what the future holds for my business. Being able to crack open a can of Basic Booch on launch day, with orders coming in from real customers and stock in my excellent local beer shop, is a moment that will stay with me forever.


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