We are delighted to announce that Patrick Sherriff has recently joined us as a mentor! Patrick has spent over 25 years honing a broad range of business development and marketing skills over a range of industries and sectors. As a former entrepreneur, he has helped businesses raise funds, advised on innovative growth strategies involving sales, marketing development as well as strategic alliances. He is a great addition to our mentors pool and will be very helpful for our current and future start-ups! 

Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background.

I enjoy working with creative people who like to push the boundaries on innovation and challenge the status quo.

I started my career in marketing and advertising on the client side, working with brands such The Times and The SundayTimes. These early experiences contributed to the development of my passion for brands. 

The drink and beverage sector in particular was where I found myself most at home as I come from a family with a long heritage in the Scotch whisky industry. Recently, my professional focus has been on the sustainable and renewable energy field. My main investment criteria for any business today has to have a strong sustainable offering. I like business’s that convert waste into products that consumers have a need for, it makes sense.

You have invested in a unique and interesting startup brand – Black Cow Vodka. How did you come across them? Or did they find you?

I came across Black Cow Vodka as one of the founders is a good friend of mine. That alone wasn’t the reason I invested in the business, I fell in love with the product almost instantly – the vodka is so smooth and delicious. It’s made from milk (a great USP and opening up a new category in vodka) and the design looked great. 

Why have you decided that this is the business that you would like to get involved in?

I decided to get involved in the business mainly because I am passionate about Black Cow and I want it to be a success. My background and network lends itself to the marketing of a brand such as Black Cow. I enjoy working with Paul Archard, the founder. We have a great time being creative and coming up with new ideas for the business. 

Black Cow Vodka as a product ticked pretty much all my criteria for investing in a new business. With two maverick and innovative founders, neither of which had a background in the drinks industry (a plus for me). The founders felt I could add lots of value to help grow the business.

Tell us about your journey with Black Cow Vodka so far? Any learnings? 

The journey so far has been exciting and challenging in equal measures, with rapid growth and high distribution gains from day one. We are beginning to truly understand our audience, something we should possibly have got under the skin of earlier into the brands evolution. 

Looking ahead the challenge for the brand is now to successfully engage with its audience and build a unique experience for consumers. It has been rewarding for all those involved so far, we like taking risks and we’re not afraid to make the odd mistake.

From your personal experience or based on your opinion – what are the most common mistakes startups are doing when seeking funding?

From my own experience, many startups underestimate the time it takes to establish a business/brand. This often leads to a cash crunch early on in the evolution of the business. There is tendency to think, because of the internet, they can launch and grow a business really quickly. It takes time to build a brand.

However, it’s an exciting time for start ups, particularly with the ever increasing advances in technology and digital platforms, enabling brands to establish themselves in a cost effective way that was previously unachievable.

Thank you, Patrick!