Growth & Customers

How to crack crowdfunding

Lucy Busk is the co-founder of NICE, the fastest growing canned wine brand in the UK. Here, she reveals her top tips on crowdfunding.

Lucy Busk

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Lucy Busk is not only juggling a business and a newborn baby, but she is trendsetting and crowdfunding her way to the top, with her wine brand NICE selling a can every five seconds.

With a crowdfunding goal of £750,000, Lucy and her co-founder Jeremy May must have thought the wine had gone to their heads as they ended up raising an incredible figure of £1m.

NICE is the fastest-growing canned wine brand in the UK, and it’s only getting bigger with plans to expand and bring fun back to the industry.

In this episode, Lucy gives her top tips for cracking your crowdfunding, creating a new innovative product and getting your brand onto the shelves of some of the biggest retailers and even overseas.

Here’s her unfiltered advice:

Setting up your crowdfunding campaign

Bex Burn-Callander:

I feel like congratulations, double congratulations, are in order because you’ve just had a baby, and you’ve just massively exceeded your crowdfunding target.

So two massive accomplishments in very, very short space of time.

So tell us a bit about how you are.

Lucy Busk:

I’m good. Yeah, I had a baby five, well six weeks ago, she’ll be six weeks on Thursday.

I had a little girl called Elektra. She’s doing really well, and I’m doing really well, and that came quite soon after the crowdfunding. Good timing.

It would’ve been quite stressful to do both of them at the same time, but I’m doing really well.

Bex Burn-Callander:

And the crowdfunding journey.

So how long was the build-up to actually getting that campaign up and running, and tell me a little bit about why you chose that particular route?

Lucy Busk:

So crowdfunding is something that Jeremy and I have always discussed.

We’ve always thought that it would be a brilliant thing to do because we love the way it democratises investing, and it allows really anyone to get involved because the entry into being able to invest is relatively low, £50 was our entry.

We’ve always loved the idea of how it brings so many brand ambassadors on board your journey. So it’s always been something that we’ve toyed with, and it just felt like this was the right time to do it for this investment round, which was our third investment round.

In true NICE fashion, one of our core values is to do things in dog years. So it’s to do things quite quickly. So I think we decided about a month before that we were really going to go for it, and then we managed to pull everything together really quickly.

Bex Burn-Callander:

That’s amazing because you’ve got so much data that you’ve got to pull up, and you’ve got to do your promo video, and you’ve got to get all your ducks in a row.

So that’s quite an accomplishment to do it all in one month.

Lucy Busk:

It was maybe a tiny bit longer, but yeah, we just get stuff done so fast and the moment we decided to do it, it was a real divide and conquer with the marketing team as to who does what.

Obviously, the promo video was the main thing that we put the focus behind, but then actually there’s so much stuff that has to go on behind the scenes with the preparing all of the documents with all of the due diligence that takes place on your business.

It is such a huge amount of due diligence that takes place.

So there was a lot of behind-the-scenes work, which actually my amazing business partner, Jeremy, looked after all of that because investment rounds is a real area of the business that he always leads on.

Raising a million in crowdfunding

Bex Burn-Callander:

So Lisa, I think you were looking to raise £750,000, and you ended up raising a million.

How did that happen? How did that feel?

Lucy Busk:

It was great. I think it’s a really big ambition for a lot of brands that raise to go over their target, and it felt really good, and it felt really exciting. I think the key with crowdfunding campaigns is that you need to get a lot of momentum behind them at the beginning.

So you need to have raised a lot of money at the beginning, and then you really start to get that momentum, and then it’s that sort of FOMO. You get other people that see that it’s doing really well and that they then come on board.

So it felt really good, and it was so interesting hearing from some of the people that invested and why they invested. And I actually did a real live crowdfunding event with Seedrs, who we raised with, and it was amazing seeing some of them come along to that event.

And what was exciting at NICE was a big ambition for NICE with this raise, was that we really wanted to bring more females into investing because there’s such a big gender gap when it comes to investing.

Only 14% of angel investors in the UK are women. So the narrative that we were putting out there was all around encouraging more females to invest.

And what we were really pleased with, with this campaign was the normal split on Seedrs is about 80% men and 20% women, and we ended up being about 50% of each.

So it was really exciting.

You can literally see each person invest, you can see the names and people can leave you notes. And it was really exciting for us, especially not only raising more than we set out to do, but seeing how many women came on board. That was great.

Encouraging more women to invest in the wine industry

Bex Burn-Callander:

And you said that you had some feedback from the people who were backing your campaign. What did they say? What was it that convinced them to buy your shares?

Lucy Busk:

First and foremost it’s around business performance, it really is, and I think we have grown so much in three years. We have done so much.

We have always been a business that’s really proud of smashing all of our targets, so they could really see that the business was in growth. And so I think if I was investing, that’s obviously first and foremost what I would look at, I would look at the growth and the financials.

And then I think other things that people loved about us and from meeting some of our investors, it was that narrative around encouraging more women to invest. It was being a really strong female first business.

The wine industry is maybe 90% male dominated, but our team is really proudly 80% women, 75% of our leadership team are women. We’re 50% female owned. So it was that. And then I think also people love that we are here to disrupt a really old, stuffy, quite dated category that’s very intimidating.

I think we’ve probably all in our life been made to feel a bit intimidated by wine, whether we’ve been handed the wine menu, and we don’t understand anything on it.

So we panic pick the Pinot Grigio because we know we tried it once on holiday, and we like it or whether we’re in the aisle of Tesco, and we just go for the whatever’s on promotion.

I think people love what we’re doing for wine, that we’re breathing new life into it, and we are creating a brand that is far more inclusive and takes ourselves far less seriously. And people can see that from our marketing campaigns, from us wearing pink jumpsuits.

So I think there are a number of reasons why people invested. But from speaking to people that did, I think those are some of the main ones.

How to turn a consumer into a brand advocate

Bex Burn-Callander:

Because that’s key, isn’t it? You’ve created a real army of fans, and nothing really says that.

Like the fact that you have a merchandise tab on your website, so people come on your website to buy your wine and also will take away some sunglasses, a hat, a bag.

How do you achieve that sort of status? How do you turn someone from a fan of your product to a massive brand advocate?

Is there a lot of PR involved? How did you do it?

Lucy Busk:

Well, I think for us, it’s all about the fact that we are really solving a consumer headache. So if wine was invented right now today, would it be put into a heavy glass bottle that you need a different implement to be able to open it with?

The answer to that question is 100% no. We live in a world where you can order your groceries on an Alexa, but we still live in a world where you go to the park, and you forget the corkscrew, so then you have to smash open the bottle of wine.

It doesn’t think about the consumer wine, it really doesn’t. It’s stuck in this quite old school way of thinking. If you remember when the screw cap was invented, the wine industry just went completely crazy, but actually the screw cap is far more convenient and is now the norm.

So I think we’ve created that brand love because we are actually solving a consumer headache. The can is so much more convenient, and we don’t just sell canned wine anymore. We’ve got boxed wine, we’ve got wine on tap.

We’re really focused on always solving the consumer headache and always thinking about what is the perfect liquid and what is the perfect vessel for that wine moment. So I think that’s one reason.

But then I think also people have fallen in love with our tone of voice with the way we do market our products. We live by a mantra, which is all around big budget energy.

So at NICE, we are very good at taking really small budgets and blowing them up and making it look like we spend lots of money, but we actually haven’t. And we take to the streets of London with our flash mob giving out free wine.

We really think outside the box when it comes to marketing our product. And I think that’s a big reason why people fall in love with our business.

Revolutionising the wine industry

Bex Burn-Callander:

And you’ve mentioned that the wine industry, it’s quite stuffy, it’s quite antiquated.

And then you and Jeremy burst on the scene with this whole new concept.

Was there much pushback and was it challenging or was it actually just really refreshing for a lot of people in the industry that you had had this new concept?

Lucy Busk:

It’s a great question and I always loved being asked that question because there are some really interesting different answers.

So when I first decided to launch a canned wine business, my father was actually in the wine industry. He sadly died when I was 19, which is so sad for so many reasons.

But I always just think how much he would love to see what I’m doing in the industry. But when I first came up with the idea, it was back in 2017, 2018, I really didn’t know how to go about entering the wine industry and talking to vineyards.

So I remember ringing some of his friends and I remember them all saying to me, they definitely fit the bill of the old school, quite stereotypical wine guy.

They said to me, “Don’t do this. Canned wine will never work. Someone tried it 10 years ago, don’t do it, it won’t work.”

Luckily, I didn’t listen to them, don’t take all advice. And it’s really nice, actually, they’ve all contacted me since, and they’ve said, “Thank goodness you didn’t listen to me as a stuffy old man in the wine world. Thank goodness you went for it because it’s been great to see the category grow, and it’s been great to see NICE at the forefront of that.”

So that was one of the more negative pieces of advice at the beginning.

But look, what’s been really, really refreshing is we’ve entered the world of wine as this very pink orientated female ledge, challenger, do things differently brand and the industry has been really welcoming on the whole.

I’ve sat in meetings with people that have been in the industry for 40 years, and they say, “Look, it’s great to have you here in your pink jumpsuit. If I was told 20 years ago, I’d be sitting with this brand NICE in their pink jumpsuits changing the way the world wines with canned wine, I never would’ve believed it.”

But they can all recognise that the industry needs change, it needs modern life breathing into it in order to recruit younger consumers.

So on the whole, I have felt so welcomed and supported by the industry and I think that they think brands like NICE existing is a really brilliant thing.

Investing crowdfunding money into new product launches

Bex Burn-Callander:

And tell me about your product range because you’ve got three, you’ve got the Sauvignon Blanc, you’ve got a red and you’ve got a dry rose and you’ve stuck to these for a little while now.

So what’s the thinking about keeping the product range quite small and concentrated and will that change?

Lucy Busk:

It will, yes. And it is changing at the moment.

So we started with canned wine, we’ve got a Pale rose from the south of France, a Sauvignon Blanc from Côtes de Gascogne, and an Argentinian Malbec.

And really, we launched those flavours based on consumer research that we did, and then also based on digging into some data and seeing which great varieties are the most popular.

We’re quite a data-led business.

We are adding a Spanish Sauvignon Blanc and a French Merlot to the range, and we’ve also extended the range beyond cans. So we saw further opportunities to provide a better wine option for consumers. And we’ve got 2.25 litre bag in box.

We’ve also launched wine on tap, so just imagine beer on tap when you go to the pub, and you have a pint of beer you can now go and have wine on tap. And then we’ve just launched a sparkling, it’s literally launching next week.

And then we’ve got an entire new product range coming out in September, which we’re all very excited about.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Which is that I’m fascinated to know that you are introducing a sparkling wine because I was wondering why is there no Prosecco, the massive Prosecco boom where people are just crazy about sparkling wines? And that’s fascinating that you’re like right now we are going to do it.

Did you wait to launch it because there were some technical issues in doing it in a can? Or did you just decide that now was the best time for other reasons?

Lucy Busk:

Yeah, so it is something that we’ve always wanted to do from the beginning and actually being honest, we would love to do a Prosecco in a can.

I’d also love to do a champagne in a can, but you can’t actually can Prosecco or champagne because they’re protected by those regions because they’re obviously such a huge part of the economy in France and Italy.

So we’ve gone for a sparkling Spanish wine, and it came about because our customers have been pestering us for the last three years, and they’ve said, when are you guys going to launch a sparkling in a can?

And so finally we managed to convince Jeremy, he’d take a little bit of convincing that there was enough customer demand to create a sparkling. So it will just be a range extension, so it will just sit alongside the red, white and rose in lots of our customers.

Bex Burn-Callander:

And is that why you did the crowdfunding round? Was that partly to fund all these new products?

Lucy Busk:

The crowdfunding money will be used to invest into four main growth areas and yes, you’re completely right. One of them is new product launches.

So it’s the launch of sparkling, but it’s actually the launch of an entire new range that we have coming out in September, which is still a little bit top secret. We’re not such a top-secret company.

We’re actually very open about what we share, but this is a little bit top secret, and this is a product range that has definitely taken a bit more capital. So that’s what the crowdfunding will be used for. It’s also going to be used for international expansion and then growing our team of major hustlers.

How to expand your business internationally and sustainably

Bex Burn-Callander:

Major hustlers. I love it. Can you tell us a bit about the international expansion?

Because obviously you are such an established brand here in the UK, but are you looking to go into France, into Italy, places where wine drinking, you’re going to have a lot of competition?

Tell me about that particular strategy.

Lucy Busk:

Yes, of course. So Jeremy, my co-founder’s entire experience before NICE was all around building food and drink brands in international markets, mainly the European markets.

So he did that for businesses like Propercorn, Pip & Nut, Vita Coco. So I think everyone’s thought that NICE would go international and immediately because that is, Jeremy is the master of that, he’s one of the best people at that in the UK, hence why he’s worked for some of those brilliant brands.

But his approach has been a lot more strategic and a lot slower. He describes businesses that do quite a spray and prey approach when it comes to international expansion, and it isn’t so sustainable.

So he’s been very focused on us building a really strong case study in the UK before we go into any international market. So it’s only now that he’s just starting to put the feelers out there because we have built this really strong UK case study.

So his approach is to just pick off a few markets and just test and trial and go a bit slower and really make them work before we go everywhere. So it’s this year that NICE will start to enter Europe.

He’s actually presenting the strategy to the business relatively soon, so we’ll get more of an idea on which markets he’s looking at. And I think by the end of the year we’ll be in a couple, and then we’ll build on that year after year.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Because I suppose no matter where you go, you are still a brand-new innovation.

So even if you are launching in the champagne region with your wines, people are still going to say, “Hey, this is really handy. I can have a chilled can of wine when I’m out having a picnic.”

It’s still the same consumer.

Lucy Busk:

Yeah, I think what we’ll do is we’ll pick, well, he will pick the European countries that are really focused on sustainability.

So for example, the Nordics would be a really, really great place to start. I think 95% of the wine consumed there is from a bag in a box, which is amazing. It’s only 25% in the UK.

So I think the approach will be the really sustainably led countries.

You can market alcohol responsibly and still keep it fun

Bex Burn-Callander:

Oh, that’s really interesting. And you are running an alcohol business at a time when the data shows that sobriety’s on the rise. There are a lot of interesting trends around drinking.

So how do you grow an alcohol business while still preaching responsible drinking and seeing a lot of young people who are now reaching 18 and are not drinking alcohol?

How do you balance all those interesting factors?

Lucy Busk:

Yeah, it’s a really great question. So there are a couple of things to say on that point.

So first of all, our new product range that I’ve hinted at a lot definitely plays into the data around drinking less, moderating. So watch this space on that one.

But the drinking responsibly is a really interesting one, and it’s something that we’ve had some really strong opinions on from the beginning because you do see quite a few alcohol businesses out there, even just showing visuals of the people downing their drinks and it being poured all over them.

And we’ve just always been really careful at NICE with regard to the visuals that we show and the language that we use to always just be trying to not encourage binge-drinking.

So we’ve just always been really careful, and we’ve had conversations in the office if we think we’re maybe on the cusp of always that a little bit encouraging binge-drinking, we just won’t do it.

Bex Burn-Callander:

No, that’s really interesting having to be, because you’re sustainable, you’re looking at disruption, but you’re also trying to get people to drink responsibly, enjoy the brand and have it be something fun and playful rather than something that ends up being a bit toxic.

Lucy Busk:

Yeah, because drinking is great, isn’t it? It’s the way you relax with friends. It’s the way I know that the weekend’s here because I’ll have a glass of wine on a Friday night.

There are so many positives.

Establishing the right connections and building relationships

Bex Burn-Callander:

And I first spoke to you many moons ago when you were running a completely different company. You were running Cuckoo Bircher Muesli.

So tell me about that business and what lessons you learned and how Cuckoo has helped you make a success of NICE.

Lucy Busk:

Yeah, so Cuckoo was my first baby. It was the business I launched fresh out of university with absolutely zero business experience. I don’t think I even knew what a margin was.

I think naivety, when you’re setting up a business, is a really brilliant thing because it means that you create your own ways of doing things, which I think can be great.

And we certainly did that, and we certainly do that at NICE. It taught me so much. It was four years of the best business school that I ever could have gone to.

It made me fall in love with FMCG, the food and drink industry. It made me fall in love with sales. It gave me a really good understanding of business, and it gave me a really good understanding of the UK market, how you take a product, and you launch it into many different sales channels.

I really look back at that business. It wasn’t a success in the end. We eventually ended up selling it, which it wasn’t some big glamorous exit, but I have no regrets with it because it just doing it the second time around with NICE and having everything that I’d learned at Cuckoo.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still challenging. You’re still fighting fires every day, but it is brilliant getting the chance to do it again because you do make lots of mistakes the first time around. You just don’t have as much knowledge.

And it did just feel like such a different journey this time around.

For example, I was better connected. So when we were going to start to speak to retailers with NICE, we already had the relationships there, with Sainsbury’s, we already had the relationships there, with Selfridges.

So it’s so hard getting buyers’ attention, but if you already know someone, because buyers move around a lot, and I’d previously worked with Sainsbury’s, just helping you get that foot in the door was great.

And raising money was a little bit easier because we had the connections, we just knew what we were doing, we knew what we were doing, so we didn’t make so many mistakes, and we were also able to get NICE set up faster from it.

How to be persistent yet patient when approaching retailers

Bex Burn-Callander:

And on that point about reaching buyers and getting listings, I know that with NICE you already had those relationships, but maybe if we look at Cuckoo, for anyone who’s listening, who thinks how on earth does she do it?

How did she forge those relationships in the first place?

Can you give any advice, like a couple of tips on how you get in front of the right people, how you get your products on these shelves, at these shelves, at major retailers?

Lucy Busk:

I think first and foremost, it’s all around the customer’s needs.

So I’ve seen in the past, I’ve helped lots of entrepreneurs with how they email a buyer or how they communicate with a buyer. And I think a really common mistake that people make is they make it all about them.

They tell the whole story of how they set up the business and why they set up the business. And the buyer doesn’t really care about that.

It’s lovely, it’s a nice to know, it’s not a need to know, but they are not focused on what’s important to the buyer. And essentially what’s important to the buyer is making money, bringing new people into the category.

So it’s really about understanding the buyer, and it’s really around using language which really hits on those customer needs. So that’s one point. The second point is in this day and age, I think buyers probably get, I can’t even imagine 200 emails a day from people trying to sell their products.

So you’ve really got to do stuff to stand out because the buyer doesn’t have enough time to look at all of those emails. They’ve got to do their job, which is looking after all of their existing suppliers.

So you’ve got to do things to stand out. Some of the things we’ve done at NICE, I’ve waited outside the Sainsbury’s head office for three hours to try and get hold of my buyer.

I’ve sent random, we do something at NICE called Attention Grabs. So when we have buyers ignoring us once a quarter, we’ll send some really cool, like on Valentine’s Day, we did a personalised Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bar, which had really fun tone of voice around, please don’t ignore us, it’s Valentine’s Day.

So we’ll do quite fun things to stand out from the crowd. If there’s a trade show going on, and I know that there’s as a buyer I’ve been trying to get a hold of, I’ll go, and I’ll wait to speak to them for six hours. Someone from my team did that this weekend, and they’ve just won a listing.

So it’s not just about email, it’s all about standing out from the crowd.

But then also my third point is it’s all about persistence, but it’s, you’ve got to get that balance right of persistence and knowing when to give people space. It’s not about emailing or ringing that buyer every day, that would annoy them. You’ve got to get that balance right.

You’ve got to know the number of times you can chase them, but then you’ve got to know, and you’ve got to give them space to get on with their job because they’ve got lots going on.

And I think that’s something we’re really good at doing at NICE. We’ve had a lot of people say to us, “I really appreciate your persistence. You’ve done it in a really patient way.”

And it sets you up for what you’re like to work with, doesn’t it? Because people want to work with great people that don’t annoy them and do things in the right way.

And then my fourth point, I really could go on about this question for so long. I think it’s all about, I love teaching empathetic selling.

So it’s what I mentioned before. It’s all about understanding, these guys are busy, they’ve got a lot going on. You’ve got to really go about things in the right way, understand they’ve got a lot going on.

So that comes out in the language we use when we are chasing a buyer. We say, look, I know you’ve got loads going on, I’m just following up on this.

So it’s all about being really empathetic in the way that you sell.

Bex Burn-Callander:

These are all just brilliant pieces of advice. And I think that approach works not just with buyers, but with anybody.

Whether you are dealing with journalists or partners or literally any business connection, you can employ these tactics to have a more empathetic and profound relationship with them.

So I think that’s amazing.

Competition is healthy as it helps to grow your market

Bex Burn-Callander:

And then I just wanted to know about how you are dealing with competition, because I see NICE as being just the standout wine in a can brand, wine in cool, wine in a box brand that changed my perception about wine in boxes.

When you’re a kid, there was a certain negative connotation with box wine, and now it’s cool, but now loads of other brands are moving into this space.

So do you watch them? How closely do you watch them? How do you deal with competition?

Lucy Busk:

Yeah, it’s a really good question. And we love competition is the one-line answer. We have a really set rule at NICE and this is in our handbook.

So when you join NICE you get given a handbook, and it’s all around our behaviours and the way we live. And we have a very firm rule at NICE that you never trash talk the competition. I think it’s such a bad look when other brands will say, “Oh, that brand’s a bit rubbish.” It just doesn’t look good.

We never trash talk the competition. We think the competition is amazing because without the competition we wouldn’t be growing the category together. And it is all about growing the category together.

We’re actually friends with lots of our competition. So just to give a shout-out to some of the other can wine brands. You’ve got Canvino, which are the guys that do the amazing sparkling wine.

Mark, the founder there. He and I chat loads. We’ve chatted on Instagram to other canned wine brands commenting on their photos.

I think when lockdown was happening, we even did a shout-out to all of the other canned wine brands because it was such a difficult time for businesses to encourage customers to buy those brands.

So we obviously want to still be the best, but we think competition’s really great and really healthy, and we’re totally here for it.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Wow, that is definitely the first time on this podcast that we’ve had a business owner give a shout-out to the competition.

This is a beautiful modern approach to business.

The evolution of NICE and becoming a B Corp company

Bex Burn-Callander:

And on that point, you guys were going to become a B Corp, is that right?

Tell me a little bit about your plans for the evolution of NICE beyond products, but as an actual entity and why you’re going in that B Corp direction.

Lucy Busk:

So we are not actually B Corp yet, Bex, but we are just going through the accreditation at the moment, and we really hope, we’re at the final stages of it.

We really hope that we should be B Corp this year. What’s great about B Corp and it also now quite annoying if you’re going through B Corp is the process is so long. But that is because so many businesses are applying to be B Corp.

So all in all, it’s a really great thing. I love seeing how many food and drink businesses are also becoming B Corp. I think it’s just going to become a hygiene factor.

So we’re really excited about that. And in terms of what’s next for NICE, so we’ve got a really clear ambition at NICE. We want to change the way the world wines. We want to put consumers first. We want to do that in a really fun, far more inclusive way.

So for us, what’s coming next is we’ve obviously got new products coming out later on this year. And then beyond that, I don’t know, we’ll be very driven by what consumers want.

We’ll be very driven by data. We’ve still got a huge amount of UK market to go after. We’ve only just launched some of our product ranges. Wine on tap is really just at the beginning. We’ve got a real first to market advantage on that.

So we’re really hoping for some pretty big things with that, which look like they could be coming this year.

We want to keep being a great business to work at. We have a really firm rule that we don’t ever work with recruiters because we hope that we’ve built a great reputation whereby people want to come and work with our business.

We want to keep having fun doing what we’re doing. We’ve got some really awesome marketing plans this year. Summer is really our moment. We’ve got some great things coming there.

And yeah, I still want to wake up every morning and literally cannot wait to open my laptop because I love what I’m doing. And that mission of really changing the way the world wines is really what drives me every day.

Where to get your consumer data from

Bex Burn-Callander:

And just a quick question about that because you’ve mentioned data a few times and that point about tracking what consumers want and creating the products that the market really requires.

Where do you get your data? Are you paying thousands of pounds for Mintel reports? Are you doing focus groups?

How are you getting that absolutely vital data?

Lucy Busk:

Yes. So we buy category grocery data from Kantar. So that is something that we invest in. We are very good at negotiating at NICE.

So we’ve got the best possible deal that we can on that. But it is an investment. But we’ve actually done that from day one. And I think it’s really important for food and drink businesses to do that. It’s only worth doing once you are in groceries.

So once you are in the supermarkets, but we know exactly where we sit within the category. We know our market share. We can see week on week or month on month exactly how much we’re growing and also what businesses are in decline.

And that really helps your conversations with other grocers because you can just go and show them exactly what’s going on when it comes to on trade data.

So what I mean by on trade is pubs, festivals, theatres, cinemas, which is a massive area for NICE. It’s really difficult to buy data, it just doesn’t really exist. And the data that does exist is very expensive.

So there we beg, we borrow, we steal, we just do whatever we can to get our hands on it. But I think investing in data and really understanding the market is definitely not something that we did, I did at Cuckoo, in my first business. It’s just not really something I have much awareness on.

And it’s definitely something that we do at NICE, and we do it really well, and we’re really all over it when it comes to the data, and it just really helps your conversations with investors, with key stakeholders, with buyers as well.

Balancing your business and your newborn baby

Bex Burn-Callander:

And final question, Lucy.

So we mentioned at the start of this call that you’ve really, you’ve just had a baby just a few weeks ago, and yet here you are at work, the light ring on, podcast mic at the ready.

Can you just give a bit of advice to anyone else, another female founder, on how you are going to manage these two incredibly weighty responsibilities, business, and baby, how you’re going to find balance, how are you going to get enough support because you are obviously still so passionate about the business, you’re not taking a step back?

How are you going to do both of these things?

Lucy Busk:

Yeah, well it’s very new to me. This is my first baby, and then I’ve got my baby that is NICE. And I spent a lot of time before I had my baby speaking to other female founders who had also had babies because I wanted to get advice on what they’d done.

And one of the things I love about food and drink is how open it is and how people share. So I got a lot of advice from Emma Hill, from Lucky saying, who I’m sure you know Bex.

And she helped me, Amber, from Brave. I was really lucky that Pip Murray from Pip & Nut was having a baby at the same time as me. So we were able to help each other and share advice and be real sounding boards.

And all of those women said to me, just don’t worry. You are going to be able to do it.

Maybe don’t go and speak to other women that don’t run businesses, their own businesses and don’t have babies because they might give you contradictory advice, but my advice to you is you’re going to be fine.

We did it. You are going to be absolutely fine.

So I would sit down with them and understand what their plans were and that would shape my plan. But then also my probably the biggest secret is that I am really lucky that I married the most supportive man. I married an amazing guy called Benji, who’s a farmer, and he very much puts my career first.

He’s a very modern man. And so we’ve set things up whereby I don’t have to step away from the business, and he’s there on hand to help and support.

And when I do go back to work full time in August, September, he’s going to be the lead parent. He’s going to be the ones getting our daughter up in the morning and looking after her in the day whilst I can go off to work.

So I feel very lucky and grateful that I married such an amazing guy that can support me fully with that. And then also Jeremy, my co-founder, and my team, they’ve been really supportive.

I’m the first one at work to have a baby. I did my team meeting this morning. I had her in my arms. I was feeding her and I’m owning it. I’m taking her to meetings like that. I’ll take her into the office.

I’m just juggling it all and making it work.

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