What does the first decade have in store for new business? Each company’s path to its tenth birthday will be different. Different hurdles will present themselves. Different timescales will apply to different milestones. Unexpected twists and turns will arise. However, within every business’s unique journey, there are some common, core lessons to learn…
Whether you’re yet to embark on your entrepreneurial journey, or are already on your way to ten years in business, learning from other companies’ routes to success can be immeasurably helpful. In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at the first ten years of Fruitful Office, an office fruit delivery service launched by CEO Vasco de Castro.
Fruitful Office Today
Launched in London, UK in 2007, the business faced an uncertain launch during the economic recession. Having weathered the initial storm (along with plenty of others along the way such as a massive global pandemic shutting down office work spaces worldwide) ) Vasco de Castro’s fruit delivery service has now grown to serve five European countries, supplying fresh office fruit to over 5000 offices in Holland, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the UK every week.
Perishability has been a major challenge for Fruitful Office’s business model. Offering products which have a very short shelf life has forced de Castro and his team to be creative, flexible and proactive in steering a profitable course for the company – which doesn’t result in excessive waste.
The Origin Story
Fruitful Office was the brainchild of de Castro (an investment banker) and his flatmate, co-founder Daniel Ernst (an accountant). Inspired by their employers’ failed attempts to boost employee wellbeing with fruit (which varied widely in quality), the pair decided to build a business which could provide such a service the right way.
Generating customers was the business’s first challenge – one the business partners attacked with gusto; emailing businesses, offering freebies, networking via acquaintances. As business picked up, it was cost-cutting measures which often caused the biggest issues. Decisions such as buying second hand delivery trucks soon revealed themselves to be false economies. Staffing of the company’s antisocial 4.30-8.30AM fruit packing shift also presented issues. Ultimately, sourcing staff who were keen to progress and (crucially) providing opportunities to do so allowed Fruitful Office to nurture a dependable team.
With the business up and running, it was time to begin the delicate process of expansion. Keeping their unique sales point (a commitment to providing the best, fresh fruit) allowed the business to grow in the right direction. Unlike competitors, Fruitful Office chose to source its produce from local markets in each of its regions, ensuring better quality than fruit sourced centrally.
Minimising the delivery cycle, while expanding the business was another key aspect of this process. Shorter delivery time was crucial to fresher fruit. Developing “complex management systems” and “local distribution hubs throughout the country” has proven to be incredibly logistically challenging, according to de Castro – but has ultimately led to the continued success of the business.
Which aspects of setting up and scaling up your business have proven most challenging in the first ten years? Share your experience with readers below.