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29 Oct 2015

Meet the Judges – Adam Balon

Tell us about yourself

I co-founded innocent drinks with my 2 best mates back in 1999.  We set out to make delicious yet healthy fruit smoothies to help the world live well and die old.

We launched with an investment of £230k from one business angel and created a >£100m turnover business in under 10 years.  After further investment in 2009 from Coke, we continued to grow and now turn £250m and sell across 18 countries.

At innocent I initially ran the commercial side of the business and then lead the international expansion.

From the very start, innocent has always given a minimum of 10% of profits to charity, mostly to the innocent Foundation, which is devoted to helping the world’s hungry.

My new venture is JamJar Investments – where we (same innocent founding team) back early stage entrepreneurs and teams who are (hopefully) building the great consumer brands of the future.

What will you be looking for in a winning pitch?

Firstly, it’s about the quality of the idea.  Does it solve a real and specific problem better than anything else that is out there?  Does it come from deep understanding of the market and specifically how people actually behave in the real world?

Secondly, the team.  Do they have the knowledge, skills, passion, energy and resilience to turn a good idea into a great business?  Are they clear what they don’t know and have they thought through how they will cover their gaps?

Thirdly, are they persuasive? Getting a business going is hugely about getting people to do stuff for you when they probably don’t really have much incentive to do so. Selling the dream to customers, suppliers, regulators, employees is vital.   So can the pitchers get me excited enough to vote for them?

Give us three interesting links for any start-up

  1. www.jamjarinvestments.com
  2. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup – Noam Wasserman
  3. A Book About Innocent: Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned Richard Reed

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