Friday, the second day of the Be The Change conference in London, saw another fascinating day of inspirational speakers take to the podium. Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks, certainly shook things up after lunch with his opening statement that "Capitalism has won." While some looked on horrified by this idea, we appreciated Richard's candour and really enjoyed his optimistic and enlivening presentation.
Those of us who couldn't think of anything better than lifetime's supply of Innocent smoothies were amazed to learn that this revolutionary and incredibly successful business encountered quite some trouble getting off the ground. Richard and his co-founders were turned down by every single bank and investor that they approached at the start. They tried over 200 times to get financial backing for their smoothie business idea before they were successful!
Innocent is an amazing testament to those who have the courage of their convictions and never ever give up. Innocent Drink's estimated turnover for 2007, eight years after they started, is £115 million. The following five tips are Richard's guide to getting ahead in ethical business:
1) There is a time and a place to be entrepreneurial: Any time and any place. Richard's first business idea was selling rose water perfume as a young child.
2) If you don't like it change it: there really is no need to stick with the status quo.
3) Thing Big: who knows what might happen. He uses the example of Jeremy Gilley's Peace One Day. Here was a guy who had a big idea and with no previous experience or qualifications carried it through to an extraordinary reality.
4) Think Small: First footstep on a long journey. Get on with it today.
5) Prove People Wrong: After being turned away so many times by conventional financial institutions the Innocent boys gave it one last shot with an email entitled: 'Does anyone know anyone rich?' Amazingly it worked, someone did and that person put up the backing to start Innocent Drinks and the rest is smoothie history!
Richard's rather dramatic, but appropriate closing line was "We might as well die trying!"