Small Business Success Stories Series: Innocent

Start a business

At Vonage, we take a real interest in small businesses – and we’re always really impressed by how many success stories started up in people’s homes. We thought we’d showcase one of our favourites: Innocent, known for their smoothies and other drinks.

Today, millions of people in 15 countries buy their drinks daily from what was originally a venture between friends from university, started with just £500 and a smoothie stall at a music festival. Who knows, you might even be drinking one of their smoothies as you read this, or have one in the fridge for later!

Launched by Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright in 1999, Innocent grew from humble beginnings: their early offices included a shed, and their first desks were made of cardboard boxes. Now, of course, Coca-Cola has a majority stake in the company and is valued at a reported £320 million.

Like any small business, Innocent experienced ups and downs – like having to rewrite their business plan 11 times to secure funding. But, as co-founder Richard Reed says, they were kept going by their mantra: “never give in” – and just imagine how boring people’s lunchboxes would be if they had! It’s this inspiring attitude that helped them grow from a small business whose first customer was a local sandwich bar, to a household name stocked in most shops and supermarkets in the UK.

As they’ve grown they’ve expanded their product offering beyond the humble smoothie too; juices, fruity water, noodle pots, veg pots, fruit tubes, super smoothies and kids smoothies are just some of the additions to their range that have helped them become an instantly recognisable brand on supermarket shelves up and down the country.

As a new small business, Innocent had some help along the way, like Maurice Pinto, the American investor who saw the value of their idea and decided to fund them. At Vonage, we’re inspired by stories like this, which is why we’re committed to helping small businesses and home businesses get started with our range of low cost call packages.

One of the things we really admire about Innocent is their willingness to use their success to give something back. The Innocent Foundation was launched in 2004 and gives 10% of the company’s annual profits to good causes to this day. Over the past 10 years, the foundation has helped over 330,000 people.

So, if you’re a business owner running a small office or a home business owner running the company of your dreams from your spare room or a nook in your living-room, make sure you remember Innocent next time you have a tough day.