Interview: Soda Press Co.
There's a real gap in the market for flavoured syrups that aren't made with artificial ingredients, or completely filled with sugar. Most people I know own a soda machine, but seeing as the syrups are so bad for you, I don't think anyone goes anywhere near them! Luckily, Cameron Romeril, owner of Soda Press Co. has jumped into the market with his healthier, and way tastier version of a soda machine syrup, which can be used for all kinds of special beverage moments, or just for everyday drinking. I love the fact all of their packaging is completely recyclable, and that they support sustainable farming where they can. I also love that they use 30-50% less sugar than traditional syrups.
Cameron Romeril is the Soda Boss, and this is his story...
What is The Soda Press Co. and what do you do?
The Soda Press Co. is first and foremost about making darn tasty syrups to cater for everyday drinking, through to cocktails and mixers. We use natural and organic, non-processed fruits from the region, and combine them with a unique extraction process. We found this method delivered the result we wanted and more. I just help facilitate that pledge.
What path led you to what you do today?
Pure frustration with the crap that is sold out there. The catalyst knew there was a pent market for a better experience. Sixteen years in corporate advertising as well as some experience in marketing and product development kept the wheels of the idea moving along.
Soda Press Co. uses natural and organic ingredients and has adopted sustainable practices. How has this decision impacted your business on the day-to-day-level?
I have a reasonable passion and understanding about the benefits of natural and organic ingredients, so it wasn't hard to apply that to a business context. It’s more expensive and harder to find organic and natural ingredients, but you end up with a superior product. It’s sad that so many companies in the food industry compete by removing all the little things that make a product special.
As your business grows, do you think these practices will be harder to sustain?
They will become easier. We plan to nurture and grow our relationships with suppliers – not beat them to death because we have grown bigger. Albeit we are far from that yet.
Has marketing your business come easy to you?
Some parts are easy, but most parts are bloody hard. In my advertising days, I had clients budgets of $100k to $50m. The number of opportunities to allocate the funds we have at Soda Press Co. are the same. What changes is the time spent scrutinising those opportunities. I am lucky to know many of the tools that are needed to leverage brands with small budgets in the right direction. However, the conundrum of effective time allocation within a small business still remains. I see each aspect of the business (production, branding, finance, marketing, admin, product development…) as a spinning-top on a table next me. Spend too long on one and the others are at risk of slowing down and falling off the table.
What skills have you had to master to get your business out there?
Patience. I don’t naturally have much of that. Using the right people. Not compromising long-term goals for quick runs on the board. Staying true to your brand.
What’s the hardest part of owning your own business?
How to keep cash flowing in the business. Still learning that one. It’s the most constricting component of the start up. Also, not being able to find more hours in the day. It’s a frustrating thought that with more cash and more of you, your business could potentially have tenfold the customers.
Tips on how to stay on top of everything?
Streamline and prioritise every little thing you do. Minutes saved each day end up being weeks saved in a year. This reinvestment of time has an exponential positive affect on your business.
Career highlight so far?
Being selected as campaign planner of the year for WPP Asia Pacific. And within Soda Press Co., it was getting my 100th retail customer within half the planned time.
What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting out again?
I should have got into an office space sooner.
What does a typical day look like for you?
13 hours minimum – 6 days a week. Scary, the days just fly by.
Name 3 businesses that inspire you?
All Press Coffee, Aesop, Apple. They all have uncompromising brand hygiene, which is supported by products that are bloody brilliant.