Tell us a little bit about your business journey, when did you set up and what does your business offer?
I Grew up in West Worcestershire close to the Herefordshire border in a village called Rushwick. We lived in a 16th century cottage that used to be a cider house in its hay day. It even had the original cider mill in the barn. In my late teens I remember my family making cider with our local community that had donated their apples from their trees.
Five years ago I moved to Isle of Man to be with my partner Jenny and we now have a 2 year old Daughter called Penny.
I set up the business in November 2019 after working in accounts for a time. The campaign for 100% juice real cider, moving away from ciders made from concentrate, hadn’t really got going in the Isle of Man when I started Isle of Cider. So I decided to start importing real cider from my Home Counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire to distribute as a wholesaler around the Island.
I started out importing cider brands from small medium sized producers that were not on the high street and have just a few weeks ago launched my own brand called Oddfellas which is made in Herefordshire close to where I grew up.
Oddfellas Cider is named after my 3 x Great Grandfather who lived on North Quay Douglas during the 1800’s. He gifted land to the church in order to build St Matthews in Ridgeway Street. For this and other great deeds, he was made the Grand Master of the Manx Oddfellows in 1862. An organisation that still exists today helping those in need live a happy life.
My website www.isleofcider.im and the interactive bottle labels tell you all about him. Scan the QR code on the labels and you will find a short video monologue of his life story played by local actor Shane Lucas.
I now sell my cider through retail outlets such as the Wine Cellar, Tynwald Mills, EVF fuel stations. I also supply Independent pubs, Bars and Restaurants, as well as offering a home delivery service.
How has the Micro Business Grant Scheme helped your business?
The Micro Business Grant Scheme has helped me so much. I will be eternally grateful. From the initial classroom support to get the basics right and meeting fellow entrepreneurs, to having the best business coach and mentor I could have dreamt of. For me the classroom support was a good refresher as I had done a business degree quite some time ago. I was given Bransom Bean as my mentor who has always been there for me whatever hour of the day or night it is. He always says “call any time”. It could be about anything from helping to make an important business decision to just simply moral support. Nothing was ever too much for him, and I really appreciated it.
How did you find the experience of receiving support?
We were told from the outset that we could have funding in the form of a percentage of capital expense or a regular subsistence grant. You could even have a mixture of the two and that’s what I went for. I needed an e-commerce website to get me going so I got funding for that and then had the rest as a subsistence grant. It really helped while the business was in its infancy as there were sometimes lean months. Especially in January and February due to the nature of the business. Again with training and advice there was always someone close at hand if you needed to bend an ear.
Tell us about your business – what do you enjoy most about the work you do?
I enjoy the people aspect of the business the most. There’s never a sad face when you are delivering craft cider to someone. I love sales and hate being stuck behind a desk so getting out and about around the island is something to relish. There are places on island that I’m sure I would have never seen had I not delivered cider there. Home delivery during lockdown was also a challenge but very rewarding when I got such good feedback and gratitude from my regular customers.
Why did you choose the Isle of Man as the destination for your business?
My partner is Manx born and bred; and when we met on holiday nearly 6 years ago now she invited me to the Island to visit. I’d never been before and once I’d stayed I knew it was where I wanted to live. I’d always wanted to live by the sea and I have a passion for all things motorsport so what better place than here. I moved here 5 years ago and the rest history.
Outside of work, what do you like to do? How do you spend your free time?
My partner and I have our only daughter Penny who turned 2 years old this February. She certainly keeps us on our toes. We love taking her to the Curraghs Wildlife Park where she thinks the best park swing on the Island is. We also love walking in the glens and going to the beach when the weather permits. Other than that I love watching local motorsport when it is on.
How did you hear about the support schemes offered by the Department for Enterprise?
If I remember it was through a combination of the chamber of commerce and the Government website. I came across it when I was researching starting a business here.
Would you recommend the Micro Business Grant Scheme to other businesses and what would be your top tips for going through the application process
Absolutely 100% yes. The whole thing has been invaluable. Top tips would be pay attention in class. Do all the exercises. Be passionate about what you do. Work hard. Chase up every lead. Everything else will follow.
The Micro Business Grant Scheme has been designed for new start-ups or businesses trading for less than 18 months, and offers training, financial assistance and business mentoring.
To find out more about the Micro Business Grant Scheme, click here.