When is enough, enough?
I’ve been asking myself this question quite a bit as the summer nears its end. Azure, though lovely in idea and appealing in mission, has not been functioning as a business. As the founder, I took the words to heart that, “you need to be your first prophet”. They told me that I needed to inspire trust and confidence in my idea, throw it out there and see how people reacted. So that’s what I’ve done for the past two and a bit years and somewhere along the line, I never quite figured out that… well, you need to actually sell. That is, ultimately, the aim of the business even though, in selling, we serve a wider purpose.
At the beginning of the summer, we thought we had found a manufacturer in Bulgaria. We thought money was going to come through grants and competitions we had applied to (and were meant to apply to further). We thought we were all ready to finally “launch” sales. I was in Mexico expecting to start preparing stock. But… the grants fell through, the bars Bulgaria sent were unpalatable, their team, unresponsive. We scrambled around, as funds ran dry, attempting to write up business plans for anonymous investors in Dubai, local investors in Mexico, desperate to have a manufacturer just so we could start the engine rolling.
In the meantime, my father was taken to hospital for an infection that almost claimed his life, my relationship dissolved, and a car slammed into me as I was biking in London to a meeting.
So black in bleu, I had to cancel my trip (scheduled two days after the accident occurred) to Greece where Azure was a proud sponsor of the GB Team running the mythical Spartathlon race (250k, in 36 hours, following the route Pheidippides from Athens to Sparta!) We were hoping the event would be the launchpad to start selling Peak Pinole (our energy balls) online. James, our nutritionist/superhero athlete and Darren, my wonderful coach, had both been selected to be the happy few of 25 to represent the UK in Greece… Instead, I spent my time in the A&E and the physio, and in bed, ice-pack after ice-pack waiting for the bruises in my legs to recede, to let me walk again, and to give me a break from the pain, so I could finally get some sleep. #funtimes. Now having said this, I still think I fared better than my fantastic ultra athletes who ran in biblical torrential rains for 36 hours through a storm… (well done!!!!!)
It will be almost a year now since we completed our Kickstarter. I get messages from hopeful, then curious, then perplexed pledgers about where their money went. I’m desperate to have product to wrap in pretty bows and send to them with love and “thank you so much for your faith in us and your patience”. I’m gearing up for yet another trip to Mexico. Yet there are silver-linings. We have a lovely manufacturer in Mexico willing to work with us with extreme patience, we have two interested investors in Mexico, we have a growing number of runners and retailers knocking on our door for samples… and ultimately, we have a fantastic product that people love!
They (a.k.a the large undistinguishable number of people who advised me in the first year) warned me it would be a lonely road and that I’d sacrifice more than I imagined. Not quite pleased to say they were right. Though they also mentioned I needed grit, and a boat load of it. I’m pleased to say: I’m still entirely dedicated to my start-up despite the most recent turn of events. I still believe in it. I still am aiming to get this lovely crowd of followers and the rest of the world pinole. Watch this space. In the end, if 35 hours of running non-stop through downpours isn’t enough for my ultras, then I can definitely keep going.
*Nice one James!!! Forever classy. I think his leg hurt more than mine…