It’s not often you get the opportunity to gain invaluable insight from someone at the sharp end of an international and rapidly growing SME, so when we were given the opportunity to interview Vasco de Castro, the business development director at London based office fruit provider ‘Fruitful Office’, we jumped at it. This is what we learned from our meeting with the investment Banker turned SME owner.
What does Fruitful Office do?
“Fruitful Office has the simple aim of improving the quality of life at work through regular deliveries of high quality, seasonal fruit.” A simple premise has turned into a business that now delivers fruit to offices in five countries across Europe. That includes the UK, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and the latest Fruitful Office in Ireland.
Why has the business been so successful?
Quality control has been one of the main drivers behind Fruitful Office’s success. One of the reasons Vasco de Castro and Daniel Ernst decided to create the business was because they had seen that fruit deliveries were hugely appreciated by office workers, but the quality of the fruit was inconsistent.
De Castro found that ensuring the highest levels of quality was easy when they first started out because he could personally inspect the contents of each and every basket. However, as they grew, De Castro had to accept, as all successful entrepreneurs do, that they cannot be everywhere at once. The key was to surround himself with people he could trust to delegate quality control to.
Establishing the right processes and controls was another critical part of the company’s growth. This was central to ensuring a common customer experience and being able to expand the service to other cities and countries across Europe.
Creating a local feel was also important. “Although we were expanding rapidly, we wanted the business in each city and country to be very much a local business with a local feel. To do that we employed local teams and sourced our fruit from local wholesale markets. This gave Fruitful Office the feel of a local greengrocer but with the professionalism and security of an international business.”
From your experience, what are the five must-dos for new entrepreneurs?
According to De Castro, there are many things to do to make a new business work, but his top five are:
1 – Research the business as much as you can, but be prepared to take the leap into the unknown. You can never expect to know everything before you launch.
2 – Make sure your product or service is the very best it can be. It’s your most important asset. Get it right and with 100 percent commitment and focus you can succeed.
3 – Make sure you surround yourself with the right people. You must be able to delegate tasks to a team with the same passion and vision as you.
4 – Give your team the tools they need to be heard and really make a difference. Make sure they have the freedom to be creative and innovate.
5 – Be selective. You can’t do everything and be everywhere so it’s important you are selective about the tasks and responsibilities you take on.
Do you have any top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs? Please share your thoughts with our readers in the comments section below.