When you’re about to host the urban beach party of the century, there’s one company drinks entrepreneur Olly Bolton knew he had to go to: Crowdfunder.co.uk.
Olly launched Solution Sciences in 2007 to sell his nutritious Alibi soft drinks to students.
But this year, when he discovered the UK natural hydration drinks sector was already worth more than £36m, he saw a natural way to grow his business and take a slice of the market.
Combining his love of watermelon with a desire to market a drink packed with antioxidants and muscle-loving amino acids, Olly launched What A Melon in May.
And he turned to Crowdfunder and Virgin Media Business’ £1m VOOM competition to make that dream a reality - along with a rooftop beach party in Brixton headlined by Groove Armada, liveried double-decker featuring the faces of his Crowdfunder backers and custom-painted What A Melon bikes.
Things took off again when he collected the Crowdfunder Award and a cool £50,000 from Richard Branson (below) during the live #VOOM final on July 28.
Afterwards Olly said: “Crowdfunding in #VOOM has been amazing."
"We’ve raised a lot of money, grown our customer base, boosted awareness and audience engagement. "It’s been a massive win, and we are definitely going to crowdfund again.
This prize is incredible, we’ve opened up even more opportunities through #VOOM than we’d ever imagined, including working with some major brands on product distribution.”
"VOOM is all about the search for the best business talent the UK and Ireland has to offer," added Scott Wilkinson, Head of Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016.
We've already raised over £700,000 for crowdfunding projects with #VOOM, and this is just the start.
"What A Melon have led the charge, and we can't wait to support them as they start this incredible entrepreneurial journey.
"What A Melon . . . what a winner!"
Only by making a pledge on Crowdfunder.co.uk can you get tickets for the Melonation Celebration launch on July 2, as well as rewards ranging from cases of the 100% natural drink to the chance to see your life-size face on the What A Melon bus around central London.
The strategy worked; from an initial target of £32,700 six weeks ago, backers have now pledged £111,946 and What A Melon made it through the VOOM semi-finals.
Olly plans to use the pledges to fuel What A Melon’s marketing machine, including targeted digital advertising on You Tube, a stint at Notting Hill Carnival and to flood UK supermarkets with the health drink designed as an alternative to coconut water.
“We want to bring a smile to people’s faces,” said Olly.
“To introduce that element of random. And Crowdfunder has given us something to focus on to channel our energy.”
Since the Crowdfunder launch, Olly has been working to give What A Melon a longer, six-month shelf life, and his dream is to see it outstripping sales of leading coconut water brand Vita Coco.
“In year three, I’m predicting a £12m turnover. We'll expand carefully. It’s taken us eight years to understand what consumers want, and that’s simplicity, low-sugar, natural drinks.” The bright pink and green packaging has captured the imagination of Crowdfunder supporters and has attracted more than 800 Instagram posts already. “The key thing is standing out and having unusual rewards The more creative you can get, the more inspired backers will be. It’s that word-of-mouth effect. People want to be involved. Crowdfunder has been brilliant for us. You can get feedback directly from your customers and they’ve loved being part of our story."
“I’d thoroughly recommend it.”Win £1,000 for your business idea with #VOOM