Welcome back to our 'Founder Friday' series. In each episode, we will be introducing you to a founder in Enterprise Orchard's network. Featuring this episode is Will Clapham, cofounder of Mogul & Dram. Zora sat down with Will over Zoom to ask him all about Mogul & Dram and how Will and his cofounder Jonny came to set up their business.
Hi Will. Thanks for sitting down with me to discuss your journey creating Mogul & Dram. Could you tell us all a bit about yourself?
Hi Zora. Thanks for having me. So, I'm 29 years old. I finished school back in 2010 then took a gap year with a few of my friends. I was lucky enough to travel a lot anyway growing up, but that was the first time we were really out of our comfort zones. We planned it all ourselves, and we went to Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji over the kind of 4/5 months, which was a fantastic experience. I got the travel bug from there.
I then went to university at UWIC, where I did a Marketing degree which was fantastic. After that, I had the travel bug, so I went to Australia, where I lived for around seven months or so in Sydney and then to New Zealand, where I lived for a year in Queenstown. I definitely wouldn't have come home if it wasn't for it being so far away!
After I had come home, I lived and worked in London for five years. I worked in the travel industry before I found my interest in affiliate marketing. But the ultimate dream was always to do something myself. So that's where Jonny and I got together.
Outside of work, travel is a big part of my life and sport as well. I was a keen rugby player growing up, and I try to continue but as I get older, my body starts to fail, so now it’s just a good excuse to have some beers with the guys! I'm also a keen cyclist; I am currently training for my first sprint triathlon. Jonny and I love living in the outdoors, and that definitely comes through in our branding and what we're trying to create.
You can see on your Instagram the kind of active lifestyle that you're talking about. It's amazing that you've been able to experience travelling and living in so many different places.
I think that's one of the things that Jonny and I want to do with our products going forward. We've taken the Whisky, and a Highball which is very big in Japan and that inspiration has come from Jonny's travels. We've both seen drinks and various other products in different countries that we want to bring to the UK. I think it’s a great way to learn, find new products and experience new cultures. So we're hoping we can take these great products and put a British twist on them.
I guess I haven't talked much about what the actual product is. It's a whiskey and soda mixed to perfection to be enjoyed on any occasion. We've got two flavours: lemon and grapefruit. The lemon is influenced by the Japanese and how they drink their highballs; they always have a twist of lemon and poured over ice. The grapefruit is very much from the States. They use a lot of grapefruit in their mixers, and the bitterness really blends well with the oaks and smokes of whiskey.
We have a third flavour, hopefully coming out in September so, all will be revealed then.
So you've spoken a bit about your products, but could you tell the readers a bit more about Mogul & Dram?
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I should say, Jonny and myself both got furloughed and then ultimately made redundant last year because of COVID. Due to that, we had some spare time. We wanted to put our heads together and develop a business plan instead of just sitting around applying for jobs. So we said, why don't we spend an hour, two hours a week just having a chat about what we can do.
And, as I mentioned earlier, Jonny was travelling in Japan for the Rugby World Cup, and he came across Highballs. He thought it was a beer initially. And then he realised that it was whiskey. He tasted it and loved it, and so did loads of other Westerners that were travelling there. So I was actually in a meeting around January time, and someone was describing this drink to me. And so, I said to Jonny; we should look at importing this. People are saying it's a drink they miss.
It's different to beer; it's different to cider. It's light and refreshing. So we looked at importing it rather than creating our brand to start with. But we realised we would have to jump through so many loopholes; we wouldn't be able to make it our own.
So that's when we decided to start looking at making it ourselves. We started writing a business plan, started making whiskey in soda water at home, and got feedback from friends and families. When we were allowed to hang out when the rules were relaxed, around June/July, we started testing recipes. And then, from that, grew Mogul and Dram.
It's a great story. You can see again that travel has really influenced your company. You've answered a bit about my next question there too. As we know, COVID has disrupted a lot of people lives but, was that the leading reason for both your journey making that leap?
100%. When we're both furloughed, the biggest thing for us was that we didn't have job security, or we didn't have the decision of what was going to happen next; it was all in someone else's hands. We knew that when running a business, this would still be the case to some extent. But we do have that control over it. The harder we work will result in the definitive success of the business.
I think it's very much for us to control our futures and grow something ourselves and do business our way. We both worked in various workplaces, and we liked things about those places. But, we also felt things could have done better. So it's our chance to build a company from the ground up and create a culture and a workspace that others want to come and work for and develop.
So, yeah, I think it's a perfect opportunity for us to do things our way and control our destinies. And as we spoke about earlier, it's also having the ability to have a bit more of a lifestyle brand. So what we do, we enjoy and not just turning up to get a paycheck.
Okay, so now that your business is up and running and Johnny and yourself are enjoying what you do, what advice would you give to anyone who's thinking about starting their own business?
Have the ability to ask questions that you're scared of asking. When we started, we didn't ask some of the harder questions we should have done—also pushing people for an answer. That's one thing Jonny is really good at; he's quite direct with people. Even if it's not the answer you want to hear, then at least you've got the answer. And then you know not to pursue that path, or you see this person's on the right page and want to pursue working with them.
I would also say do due diligence on everyone you want to work with. A supplier has let us down. And that was probably partly our fault in the sense that we maybe didn't do enough due diligence, and we thought we could manage them. Ultimately, we couldn't in the end, so we had to move. But there's always hiccups and bumps in the road. And it's not a story if there are not a few challenges along the way.
And so, asking questions leads nicely into my next question about The Engine Room. You're a relatively new member, but how has The Engine Room helped you with your business over the last couple of months?
I think straight away it's connections. We've been introduced to four or five different leads for different elements of the business. So it's not just sales leads; it's also looking at funding, looking at the logistic side of things as well. So it's not necessarily just a sales opportunity, which is sometimes how people look at it. The connections that we've got so far have been great. And I think Ollie made a really good point during our Tuesday session. It's reassuring when everyone says everything you're doing is correct but don't worry, hang on in there. It's just having the reassurance of your network, which is brilliant.
I'm so pleased that The Engine Room has been so helpful for Mogul & Dram. Finally, we end all our Founder Fridays with a fun fact about our founders; what's yours?
I was just talking to Jonny about this. It's quite a tricky question really. I'm going to go with; I've done over 40 bungee jumps. I used to work for a bungee jump company in New Zealand, AJ Hackett. I would recommend it to anyone out there, but it's a lot more terrifying than a skydive.
Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me, Will. I'm excited to see what's next for Mogul & Dram!
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