Amelia - Mike and I met whilst working at Gü together. After leaving we knew the chilled area very well and we both felt that the supermarket fridges were missing something really fun, exciting and innovative. As luck would have it, it was around this time that we met two chefs, Ofer (Shenhav) and Angus (Allan) who had launched the brand in New Zealand in 2009. In Australia gourmet yogurt has been around for years, but they felt they could do a better job, so they bought a dairy in Auckland, perfected their recipe, created the brand and jumped right to being the Number 1 gourmet yogurt in New Zealand. They started thinking of expanding the business around the same time we were thinking of doing something new.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
Meet your buyers. You need to let retailers see the whites in your eyes rather than hiding away behind phone and email. Getting out, seeing retailers and speaking to people is so important or you never know how the negotiations will turn out.
Also in an entrepreneurial world it’s easy to become so wrapped up in your own product that you really need to think about what the supermarkets want, about their concerns and gaps so you can pitch something they are looking for.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
We would love to continue growing like we are now both in sales and in our range. We pride ourselves on our unique, quirky flavours and the dream is to see more of this innovation on the fridge shelf. Of course, the dream is also that ‘The Collective’ will become a household name.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
Mike - My last meal would be breakfast – the most important meal of the day and one I have increasingly enjoyed more and more as London restaurants pick up on the Antipodean trend of great early opening places serving innovative breakfasts. Mines not that innovative but the ingredients would be perfect!
I would have The Collective Straight Up yoghurt served with the freshest Scottish raspberries and blackberries foraged locally, toasted almonds and walnuts drizzled with NZ Manuka Honey followed by scrambled eggs with smoked wild salmon, baby watercress and roasted plum tomatoes from Italy served with Italian virgin olive oil and lemons picked from the Amalfi coast.
I would follow this with a Pain Chocolate from Ottolenghi and if I had any room left I would have sourdough toast with unsalted West Country butter and bitter orange Marmalade with huge bits in it! I would wash it all down with freshly squeezed orange juice and two Allpress ‘Long blacks’ with hot milk!
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
I would invite my brother (and best friend) who got killed 29 years ago, he used to eat raw eggs (shell and all) when he was hungry, I would cook the scrambled eggs the way I like them to educate the little sod! We would talk about football, running, girls and why camping is crap!'