Realities of social enterprise

Oct. 22017

My Social Enterprise Journey

Three years ago I made the decision to jump from being a business advisor for the community sector in Leicester to running my own social enterprises.  The reality is that last year I earned £4K from running Jerry Bottle.

"I really wanted to be a social entrepreneur and I still do!!"

I learned loads doing this and have been developing a new venture called Cherish and Preserve which I hope to be launching shortly.

Jerry Bottle

Unfortunately not all businesses take off into the stratosphere.  Jerry Bottle had a fantastic product that people loved.  The jerry is a sustainable steel water bottle that donates all its profits to the Waterfall Charity to build wells in India and Tanzania.  Jerry is still going and has had some great corporate sales recently.  The business lesson here is that people in the UK don't have a hydration problem.  You are never too far away from a tap and can always ask for a cup or glass if your are thirsty.

The Jerry Bottle

Lots of people love the idea of jerry bottle.  Its a beautiful product and they want one.  Sadly, they don't always want one enough to come over to to buy one.

Retailers told me that our social value wasn't a USP - people have to want the product first and care that it 'gives' second.

Here's my analysis - of the 60M people in the UK, most don't feel the need to carry a water bottle.  Out of the proportion who do want a water bottle, a smaller number are interested in sustainability, and want a steel bottle for life.  Out of those, a smaller number of people will go out of their way to visit  Once they have a jerry, it lasts forever, so they then don't need another one.

So I have had a great year with jerry - I've been to Number 10 Downing St; presented at a MaGIC conference in Malaysia; held a number of trade stalls at the national Enactus competition, Autumn Fair and Edie; spoken to retailers; created a brand; learned how to use Facebook Business Manager; and have become a social media expert.

Its been a good year learning about PR.  Jerry has been featured in the Guardian twice, featured in an online edition of GQ, been on Radio Leicester twice, and loads of local press coverage.  We were also on the front page of Social Enterprise UK's Christmas Gift Guide 2016.

Now its time to try something else.

Tobias and Harun on TV

Please get in touch if you would like to work with the Engine.  We can't with everybody because launching ventures is full-on, but we always love to chat.