Monday, 4 March 2013

Entrepreneurship: Corkers Crisps Creators Rodney and Ross

I am intrigued by the work of entrepreneurs, so when the team behind the makers of the new brand, Corkers Crisps* approached this blog I was happy to find out more...
 The makers are Rodney Garnham and Ross Taylor - both 34...

BOOM!: You are entering a heavily populated market of snacks. How much experimentation did you do to get the finished product?
Rodney Garnham: We conducted a lot of market research over a period of around eight months working in product development programmes and understanding what not only the consumer wanted but what trade required. We used focus groups so we could get back feedback from the group discussions. This helped Ross and I create a clear view of what we wanted to produce. This has paid off as we have the British crisp made from produce from our farm based in the fenland. 

B: What are your work experiences?
RG: I left school at the age of 16 to study aircraft and engineering. I spent 11 years travelling the world with aircraft working on planes and managing groups of teams. I left the job to set Corkers crisps up back here in Cambridgeshire as I have always been passionate about the produce from the land. When I was growing up, agriculture played a large part in my childhood. 

B: You have the super-riche and starving inventor juxtaposition – where do you feel you fit in this spectrum?
RG: We are potato farmers that decided we wanted to make the best of what we had to offer. We strongly believe we have the best potatoes in the country due to our fenland soil so we diversified the farm into the crisp industry. Previously, we sold the potatoes the fish and chip industry however the potato market has been extremely volatile so we wanted more security within our farm. 

B: Have you always worked in the food industry?
RG: No, I predominantly worked in aircraft. Luckily for me I had the opportunity to see many different cultures and therefore cuisines across the globe. This made me appreciate the food industry from a young age.

B: What advice would you give to budding inventors?
RG: Be prepared for a very long road, take the highs when they come along as the next low is quite often just around the corner. You need to have strong resolve and absolute passion for your service or good. 

B: Which entrepreneurs inspire you?
RG: The innocent smoothies inventors Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright inspire because they took such a simple idea and made it into a nationwide, global business that has sustained the test of time. They found a gap in the market and took a risk.

B: Who do your crisps appeal to?
RG: The British public who appreciate a product that is from great origin. We aim to cater for all ages as we cut our crisp thinner so it is less abrasive on the pallet. Due to the nature of our Naturalo potato our crisps are less greasy than other varieties which gives us a less greasy crisp. What is unique about Corkers? Here in the fenlands we have very rich, black peaty soil which was previously flooded for thousands of years. The land was reclaimed in the 1800s and has been farmed by us ever since. The other interesting fact about our land is that it contains bog oak, which has cured in the fields for the same amount of time as it has been flooded giving, us a really rich and nutty taste to our potatoes. Due to this we have the most delicious Naturalo potatoes in the country which are high in quality and rich in taste. 

B: What beckons for the rest of the year and next year? 
BG: Here at Corkers we have maintained a high level of growth which we have forecasted to keep up in the forthcoming years. We have a wonderful team behind the brand now which are regularly attending shows and tastings that help us increase the brand awareness of Corkers Crisps. Recently we launched the first ever pack of crisps into space which helped us portray the fun and innovation to the company. Look out for more stunts like that in the very near future!

As told to Ebunola