Suffolk entrepreneur Oliver Dickinson toasts success of chia seeds health drink start-up WOW
PUBLISHED: 09:33 25 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:32 26 October 2017
A Suffolk entrepreneur is celebrating after his health drinks start-up hit a turnover of £3m in its second year.
Oliver Dickinson, now 26, of Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, set up WOW in 2014, after he and university pal, Rory Paterson, created a chia seed drink. Forecasted turnover for next year is £10m.
The former East Norfolk Sixth Form College student, who went on to study at Plymouth University, started his business career in 2009 when he formed Fluid Advertising, which designed, printed and distributed high-quality leaflets.
Later, at the age of 19, he launched internet business We Connect Students, a graduate talent platform. Three years later, it had moved to offices in west London and was valued more than £1m. After moving on from this, Oliver began to think of ways he could apply the same speed-to-market mentality he used in tech to a drinks start-up. He moved back home to Lowestoft and made an office out of his bedroom to brainstorm ideas for his ‘dream’ product.
“I wanted to create something that truly had a purpose and solved a problem for consumers,” he said. “I had a friend in the Royal Marines who told me about how he ditched sugary energy drinks for a mixture of chia seeds and water. He described feeling less tired and more spritely as a result so I gave it a go. It was a winning combination, and it became my new hangover cure in a matter of weeks. But I knew there was nothing on the market like it, let alone one that tasted good.”
Oliver and Rory, who had no background in the food and drink sector, registered their chia drink invention for Food Standard Authority (FSA) approval, a challenging process which took 17 months.
“Whilst it was worth it, waiting for the FSA approval was frustrating for me coming from the fast-paced environment of tech,” he admitted. “I wanted to get our chia seed drink out to market as quickly as possible, so once we gained approval in September 2015, we worked tirelessly and our first version of the product was on the shelves just two months later.” The drinks, in four flavours, which are made using cold-pressed raw fruits and vegetables combined with hydrated chia seeds, are now stocked by retailers including Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.