Bonus Episode: An Incrediball update... and how we managed to build the hype so thousands wanted to come to our taste testing...

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Show Notes

This is a special bonus episode to give you an update on all things Incrediballs, as many of you have been asking me what is going on.

As you may know, earlier this week we held our very first taste testing party and it was both incredible and chaotic and so we have thoughts from that to share, updates on the progress and also a few lessons to impart from this journey as well.

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Kia ora and welcome to Now That's What I Call Business. I'm your host, Brianne West, and you may know me as the founder and former CEO of Ethique, or That Soap Company, as some of you may know it, or hopefully my newest startup, Incrediballs. I absolutely believe that business done right, done ethically, is the way to change the world. So if you are looking to build your world-changing biz, or you just want to find out how Incrediballs is going, then you have come to the right place.

Kia ora and welcome back to Now That's What I Call Business! I have a special bonus episode for you because heaps of you want to know how Incrediballs is getting on because I haven't really talked much about it in previous episodes. Now you may know earlier this week was our very first taste testing party and it was pretty freaking awesome. Actually, it was chaotic.

We didn't give ourselves enough time between people and it was a shemozzle, but it was also a lot of fun and the feedback we've got has been incredible. I don't even know I'm saying it anymore. We had about 60 people that came in and each had about five or six samples to test. They tasted them blind because they wanted to know what they thought they were without colour, without any idea of what the flavour was.

And then about 15 minutes into that, we would then give them the flavour and whether that changed any of their perceptions and it's really interesting how many people guessed some of the more obscure ones and how many people totally didn't get the obvious ones. So it just goes to show you that what you expect is not what happens in the real world. So those of you with product businesses, make sure you get out and test your product because the two or three friends and family members that you may have been talking to, that probably isn't sufficient. It was awesome and I just again, I know I keep saying this, but I just want to thank you so much for those who came and gave up your Tuesday evening on a pretty cold day in a relatively obscure place. It was cool. We were in a substation, an old-fashioned substation, so it's this big brick behemoth, sort of standing alone in a relatively empty street, and it was lit up with pink and orange lights and it kind of looked creepy/ominous/the perfect place for a taste test party that was pretending to be secret. But it was great fun. The whole team pulled off a wonderful job in five days because that's how long we gave ourselves to plan it. Standard.

I have 350 pages of feedback to go through now. I have not gone through it all. I have just gone through the odd one. And the feedback has been fabulous. It's been so useful. There are some definite trends. You guys obviously like some flavours and like others a little bit less, which is great. But kind of weirdly, one of the ones I hate the most is proving to be a crowd favourite. It goes to show that everybody's different. But when we have that feedback, I'm actually going to share it with you, which probably isn't what normal businesses would do.

But I think, again, it's important to maintain the transparency so you know what's going on. And in that vein, how are we getting on with packaging? Who's been observant and noticed that I have put a new logo around the place? I love her. I think she's beautiful. We had a wonderful logo beforehand. This is now a year old, of course, done by Jane at Little Dream Design. She did a wonderful job. She was given practically no brief other than the fact that I wanted it to be orange and fun and she pulled that out and it was fabulous. But as we've gone through and refined the brand and decided what we do and don't want to be, we've decided we want to go for something a little bit clearer, a little bit less, I don't want to say childish, but perhaps a little bit less fun and something that we can animate because if you imagine those balls, if you go and have a look at that logo now, imagine those balls bouncing around in videos, they'll be a lot of fun. And if there's anywhere I haven't yet updated the logo, please let me know.

But that brings me to packaging because you haven't seen packaging yet. We are getting there. It is a long process, this packaging. I think we started this in January and we're getting a bit closer. We have changed our packaging designer from one to another, not any reflection at all on the first pack in your designer. They did a spectacular job. It just wasn't the vibe that we were looking for. And because obviously every designer has a different way of working, you want to make sure that you get one that works for you. And that doesn't have to be an issue or a conflict or a controversy. Sometimes some designers work better for other brands. We've just since bought on another one. I'm very excited to work with them. You probably know who they are and once I tell you the name, and I will do at some point, you will understand why I chose them because it's my favourite colour and one of my favourite animals and I probably just gave it away. Anyway, watch this space, I'm very excited about our packaging.

And for those asking me how they're actually going to be packaged, they're going to be in individual sachets, one tab per sachet, home compostable of course, and then popped in boxes of 3, 6 and 12. So you can throw in a new handbag or your gym bag or whatever, or you can just take one with you, but they won't be naked. Because whilst they can be naked, because of our super clever tech, which means they don't react with moisture in the air, I kind of think that's a bit ick.

Now our launch plans are not any more solid at this stage. Obviously, they are dependent on a lot of the feedback we've just had, and once we have read through all that, we're gonna know a bit more, but we're still looking towards that July, it might even be August.

I know, I know, guys, this is hard! This R&D stuff, it is not linear. Things go up and down, packaging takes longer than you expect, shipping is a bit of a nightmare globally at the moment. Everything takes a little bit longer than we expect. And I tell you now, I expected this to be launched last year, which was probably a little bit delusional of me, but that's kind of how I roll when I run a startup. I mean, yesterday I put on my Instagram stories “hey guys, does anyone know where I can get some of these patches and embroiders to give to all of the people that are coming to the event this evening.” Of course not. People can't do stuff in eight hours, but that's how I roll. It's a terrible, terrible flaw of mine.

So we are on track. We are, again, still launching Australia, America, the UK, that's a new one, and New Zealand all at the same time. Online we do have retailers champing at the bit to get us in store as well, so watch this space.

We have now expanded our team too, so we have welcomed a video editor on board, which is just making my life a lot easier, thank God, because so much of business nowadays is just making content and that's both wonderful and a great opportunity and also incredibly tiring and time consuming.

There has been a few questions, I'm just reading through questions on TikTok now as well, so we will answer them. Someone has asked how they are going to be different from other sports drinks and powder sachets that are out there? These are quite literally the only plastic-free tab in the world because, as I've said before, effervescent tablets react with water in the atmosphere and they immediately start not fizzing but you start to see they become like a little bit warty on the top.

That is an issue and it causes instability throughout the tablet and eventually they just start to crumble into dust. The tech in our tab makes sure it doesn't do that. So that's why we can put them in home compostable packaging, which means we're 100% plastic free. So that's one. But at the end of the day, people don't buy stuff because it's sustainable, right? They buy it because it tastes good and that's the other piece, because these taste amazing. And the feedback is going to bear me out, I'm sure. The ones that I've already read clearly do. And we're already working on some new ranges. But next year, there's going going to be a whole new way of making this work, a whole new version of tech, if you like, which is going to be even better, even tastier, and will dissolve quicker. I'm pretty excited about that. I kind of wanted to wait, but this is one of those things I keep talking to entrepreneurs about. It's never going to be perfect. Just get it done, right?

We want to launch and then Incrediballs version 2.0 will come next year, and then there'll probably be a 3.0 in 2028. And that's how it works. Technology improves as you keep pushing the boundaries of what green chemistry can do. We are finalising the health benefits of each tab. Each tab will have some kind of overarching benefit, whether it's electrolytes, which I'm not a fan of, as I've mentioned to you, but you guys are a fan of. But electrolyte drinks are ten a penny and they do limit the number you can have. So if we are looking to display something like Coke, we can't put electrolytes in there. We are looking for something more like aminos, you know, help us with a bit of protein intake because of course amino acids make up proteins or vitamins because I don't think any of us have any energy right now. So vitamin B12 could be something that's very useful. We're working through all of these. What we can do is actually a therapeutic dose, which doesn't taste bad.

And then finally, I thought I'd share a little bit of how we built that hype. Number one, we started talking about this from day one. I referenced it as a secret, if you remember, almost exactly this time last year and I started drip feeding you little bits more of information until finally you knew what it was. And that got people excited, it got you curious and most importantly, it made people feel like they were part of the entire journey of the business. And I still have people in the comments now saying, I loved watching you do this at Ethique, I can't wait to see you do this again. Those people feel invested. That is what building community is.

Number two is we ask questions of that community. Again, in the same vein of having people feel like they're part of something and contributing to something, ask them questions. Some of them are really stupid like, what's your favourite colour? And some of them were really a bit more complicated. I can't think of an example, but asking questions not only teaches you about your audience and their likes and their dislikes, but it also helps you build a product that they actually want. Community building 101, interact with your audience, ask some questions. A lot of people are hesitant to do this. I have no idea why.

Number three is we shared the ugly bits. All you ever see on social media is the good, shiny, positive stuff that happens, right? Well, building a startup is not a straightforward process. So we've shown you that. We've told you when something doesn't work. We were upfront and honest when unfortunately things were delayed. I've just spoken to you that our launch might be a little bit more delayed again. We've been honest about what's going on, including the ugly truth. I mean, have you ever read a book that was perfect? There was no conflict and there was a happily ever after a few pages in? No, because that wouldn't be a book. It would be boring. You need conflict. You need something to strive for, something to get excited about and root for. That's why it's important to show the whole journey, not just that shiny bit on the top.

Number four: we built the email list, those thousands of people, they're on our email list. So everything I did, I got people to go and sign up to be a taste tester, sign up to be on the wait list, go and join us, follow the journey, join the revolution. I used a lot of join us language because I want people to feel a part of this because they are. We are only going to change the drinks industry if we are all in this together. That is what I have tried to do by creating a waitlist. And almost every study ever done has proven that EDMs (or newsletters) are your most profitable way of marketing. Creates Bang for Buck.

Number five is we did this across multiple platforms. Obviously, we're on TikTok and Instagram and to a degree Facebook, although I really just don't prioritise it. We're also talking about this quite a lot on LinkedIn because that is where I'm going to find the industry contacts, the people, the retailers, the investors, all of the people that we may not need right now, but that we will eventually want to start engaging with, I'm showing them the journey too.

You might think of LinkedIn as a more professional platform and that everything needs to be shiny and perfect, but the same people who exist on Instagram also exist on LinkedIn. They're still people. And yes, whilst you might want to put a bit more of a veneer of professionalism on it, for example, I don't swear on LinkedIn. I know, it's a miracle, right? Although I am trying to stop swearing in general because I know that there are actually a lot of young people who are now listening to these podcasts and I think it's important this information is readily accessible. But LinkedIn is an important source of industry contacts. Don't forget it.

And then finally, I've only been able to build this hype because I have a team, because I have support, because I have people there for me. I am so incredibly lucky. I have team members I've worked with for years.

I have people in my Instagram comments who have quite literally been with me since my very first business, way before Retik, and having that support crew is incredible. It means the world and it helps pick you up on those hard days. And it can be really difficult to find good ones. I've been talking a lot recently how friends and family are sometimes the worst and they say the most awful things to you when you tell them about starting your business. I promise you, if you keep looking, you will find your people.

You might find them on the Business But Better Facebook group, for example, where we have about 700 super helpful, super kind, friendly members who will answer your questions without judgment. Thank you again. Have a wonderful weekend, and I'll be back next time with another episode. Kia ora. Thank you, thank you. Your feedback and your support is invaluable. See you next time.

Short and sweet, like all the best podcasts, right? Thank you for learning with me. It is always an absolute blast to put these together and share these stories, some of them, which are a little ridiculous, and they all come from building a business that will hopefully change the world. If you enjoyed this episode, don't keep it to yourself and feel free to drop me a rating and hit that subscribe button.

Kia ora and see you next week where I will have another incredible episode for you.

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