What I’ve learnt: James Averdieck

James Averdieck established Gü in 2003 and grew it into a £30 million business. He sold his luxury desserts and puddings company seven years later in a deal that made him £9 million. His latest venture is The Coconut Collaborative, which produces dairy- and gluten-free yoghurt made with coconut milk

If you have an idea, act on it. I was in Belgium when I got the idea for Gü but I didn’t do anything about it for two years. What eventually made me do something was when I was on a ski lift with a friend of my brother and he asked me what I did. I lied and said I owned a company that made luxury chocolate desserts. After that, I thought I’d better do it.

 

Mavericks make the best entrepreneurs. You have to think outside the box. In deciding whether I should launch Gü, I went to a supermarket in London and put some concept boxes on the shelf. I thought if someone picks it up, I’ll launch the company. Five minutes later, a lady did. She looked very confused when I went up to her and explained that there was nothing in the box but that she had helped me make up my mind about my company.

 

Keep faith in your idea in the early days. When Gü launched, no one bought any of the desserts for three months. Then autumn arrived and people started buying them. It was touch-and-go for a while but we persisted.

 

Good ideas spread through word of mouth. That’s what happened with Gü.

 

You have to take time getting your proposition right. If you do that, you can scale up and grow. Businesses fail because they try and expand too quickly.

 

Running a business is all-consuming. But it’s not necessarily the same for everyone around you. The evening I sold Gü, I turned to my wife and said: “In your wildest dreams, did you ever think I’d start a company and sell it a few years later for millions of pounds?” She turned to me and replied: “Darling, none of my wildest dreams involve your company.”

 

Selling a business can stir up strange emotions. When I sold Gü, I felt a great loss, like I was getting over the end of a relationship. It had taken up so much of my time and energy.

 

Entrepreneurs will always look for another project. I’m interested in small, niche businesses that can grow quickly. I’ve found that in my new project, The Coconut Collaborative.

 

Timing is everything. Demand for non-dairy products is big right now, which will help The Coconut Collaborative.

 

Vision and drive are important when starting a business. Entrepreneurs always have an energy about them.

 

James Averdieck was speaking at an event to mark the new office of Allied Irish Bank in Newcastle.

www.coconutco.co.uk

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Supporting role: Lyn Rutherford and Emily Cannell