A Business Growth Case Study, Lessons learnt from Vasco De Castro.

The story of every business’s growth, from start-up through to established company, is unique. However, along the way the way there are certain stumbling blocks every business owner will encounter and overcome. In this post, we’re going to take a look at one business that has successfully bypassed those obstacles and is well on the road to success.

Fruitful Office is a business that now supplies more than 5,000 companies in five different countries with weekly fruit deliveries. However, that level of success was not achieved overnight, the brand celebrated its 10 year anniversary last year in fact. As we take a look at some of the challenges the team at Fruitful Office had to overcome, hopefully we will uncover some solutions that could benefit other business owners.

The idea

The story about why the founders of Fruitful Office, Vasco de Castro and Daniel Ernst, will be familiar to many business owners. Working as an investment banker and accountant respectively, the flatmates and friends were desperate to start their own business and really take on a project they could get their teeth into (so to speak) and make a difference to people’s lives.

The inspiration came from a step both Daniel and Vasco’s workplaces had taken to try and boost staff wellbeing by getting a regular delivery of fresh fruit to the office. Both had found the quality of the fruit was inconsistent so they decided they could do a better job themselves.

In the beginning…

The most important step in the early days ways to find some customers. They knew they could fulfil the orders; the difficult part was generating them in the first place. They spent their first month emailing business contacts, friends and family and offered free fruit baskets to a number of different companies to drum up business.

Like any entrepreneurs, in the early days the duo made a few typical mistakes. That included a number of cost cutting measures, such as buying old vehicles cheaply, which actually increased their costs. Initially, they also struggled to find employees who would be willing to work through the early 4.30am to 8.30am shift to get the fruit baskets ready. This caused them to make some hiring decisions they quickly regretted.

 Achieving growth

Once the foundations were in place, the next step was to think about introducing processes that would allow the business to be scaled up effectively. The key to the longevity business was doing a better job than the competition when it came to the quality of the fruit. To do this they sourced their fruit from local wholesale markets in each of the areas they operated in, rather than buying the fruit centrally. This allowed them to be more selective about the fruit they purchased and deliver to customers more quickly.

Another decision the owners made early on was to surround themselves with a team they could trust and delegate to. They knew as the business grew they would not personally be able to inspect every basket of fruit, so they recruited candidates who shared their passion and vision and that they trusted to do this for them.

The next step…

The next challenge Fruitful Office faced was maintaining the short cycle from buying to delivery which guarantees the fruit’s quality. The team have already started to put local distribution hubs in place and this is a project that is ongoing as the business expands into new locations.

As with any business owners, there have been times when Daniel and Vasco asked themselves why they left the security of employment for the risks of entrepreneurship, but equally, it’s a decision neither of them regrets for a second.

What challenges have you faced when growing your business and how have you overcome them? Please share your experiences in the comments below.