Paul and Jeremy head down to Bristol to interview Helen Hills, co-founder of TrueStart Coffee, a young business disrupting both the coffee and the sports nutrition industry. Helen reveals how far recognising a gap in the market and a passion can take you. A fascinating insight into building an iconic brand in a market dominated by massive brands and remember – if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything.

The Ecommerce Uncovered Podcast is a behind-the-scenes look at what makes ecommerce a success in today’s ever-growing and continually changing online world.

The podcasts look to uncover the secrets of ecommerce success, so you can learn and apply to your own online business.

Brought you by the Co-founders of Core Fulfilment, one of the UK’s leading ecommerce fulfilment service providers, Paul Burns and Jeremy Vernon.

Jeremy Vernon: Hi, it’s Jeremy Vernon here. Thank you once again, for tuning in to Ecommerce Uncovered. For today’s podcast, I ventured down to a very wet Bristol. As I just walked from a station, Bristol Temple Meads to their office was just a short walk away. I just thought I’d tell you a little bit about the business, that I’m going to see today.

A very young business, just over 2 years old and they have developed a product that it’s trying to disrupt 2 very big industries. One of those industries, being coffee and the other being sports nutrition. So, a really interesting business. It’s not really done anywhere else. This product has not really been done before. It generated a lot of interest. It won quite a few awards. So, I think it will just make a really interesting episode for you to listen to.

Today, I’ll be meeting Helena Hills. She is absolutely full of passion for the business. So, I’ll really do hope you’ll enjoy this episode. I’ll speak to you in a bit.

Hello, I’ve got Helena Hills here with me today, from TrueStart Coffee. A really interesting story. I’d just like if you in your own words, you could you just give us a little bit of background on TrueStart, and how it all started for you.

Helena Hills: Yes, sure. It’s been quite a journey, actually. We’re really a young brand, a young Bristol raised brand. We are a couple of years old now, which we can’t believe. We feel like on the one hand, it’s been my whole life, but on the other hand, it’s only been like a couple of weeks, as it’s been too fast. We’re naturally energising coffee, that makes you feel awesome with no crash of jitters. The idea for TrueStart, which obviously, is where it really began. It came 14 moths before we launched. It was a case of my husband, Simon and I, we were just drinking loads of coffee. I’m sure…

Jeremy Vernon: I did that.

Helena Hills: Yeah, you’re familiar with that. We had our full-time jobs. We were training for IRONMAN triathlon. We just had a lot going on, loads of early mornings. So, I was really drinking quite a bit of coffee. The thing is though, I’m sensitive to caffeine. So, I was meant to saying, that I’ll be out one day, whether it’s in a meeting or at the gym or whatever, and I’ll be having heart palpitations. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that after a particularly strong coffee.

Jeremy Vernon: A particularly strong coffee, yeah. I remember that.

Helena Hills: Yeah, it doesn’t feel good.

Jeremy Vernon: No, it doesn’t feel good at all.

Helena Hills: Yeah, exactly. So, you sort of, don’t you, tell me a bit of anxiety. But other times, it felt like I needed more than one coffee to even get you going. I was moaning about it to Simon, because I just felt rubbish. He said, it might be the coffee. I sort of realise actually, I drink a lot of coffee. I know caffeine wakes you up. but apart from that, I really don’t know anything. So, I hit Google and I was like, right. What does caffeine even do? Because it’s actually a turn of physiological benefits as long as you’re not overdosing. How much are you supposed to have to get those benefits? How much is too much? How much is in coffee? That was when we uncovered this like, completely mind-blowing fact, that the caffeine in a cup of coffee varies from 20 milligrams at the bottom end to over 400 at the top end.

Jeremy Vernon: That’s a big difference.

Helena Hills: The only thing I know. I honestly cannot believe it. It’s just so many variables that affect the caf. Obvious things like, the bean, but also the rainfall on that crop it turns out, makes the difference. It’s like the difference between buying a bottle of wine and not knowing whether it’s 4 percent or 40 percent. Really, you can’t believe it. it’s a difference between a quarter of a Red Bull or 5.5 Red Bulls. It’s insane.

Jeremy Vernon: That is a big, big swing of things.

Helena Hills: I know. It’s not exactly significant, is it? We just thought, people care so much now about what they’re eating and drinking. Caffeine has flow massively under the radar. Surely, we’re not only the people in the world who think of a lively caffeinated, it’s really clean, really good quality coffee that makes you feel awesome every time, with no crash and jitters or anything, it’ll be amazing like, truly that is really obvious. So, just sort of looked into it. No one had done it before. Maybe, in the past, it just hadn’t been, you know, something we could have wanted. I don’t know.

Jeremy Vernon: You don’t well before.

Helena Hills: We’ve had that idea 10 years ago. Yeah. so, to cut the long story short, we decided to give it a go and see if we could make it happen. We found a team in Columbia to work with. So, I spent some time living in Columbia. Amazing.

Jeremy Vernon: It may not just happen to fall on, but…

Helena Hills: No.

Jeremy Vernon: But you didn’t just know them.

Helena Hills: Well no, exactly. Columbia is like an amazing country. The coffee is like ridiculously…

Jeremy Vernon: You started sort of a year outside living in Columbia, or is that working?

Helena Hills: Yeah, exactly. So, I spent a couple of years living in South America for various reasons. I was studying for a period of time, working, teach English and different things, travelling, of course.

Jeremy Vernon: Great.

Helena Hills: Columbian coffee is just awesome. So, we’re like, right, let’s start there. We managed to develop the sourcing process, the hyper selective sourcing process. The technology to completely, naturally, regulate the caffeine level in coffee…

Jeremy Vernon: So, why isn’t that done ordinarily?

Helena Hills: Here’s a couple of reasons, I think, that coffee is obviously, like a very well-established industry. It just hasn’t been the priority. 20 years ago, nobody cared about. No one thought twice about caffeine. It’s a bit like now, we’re lot more aware about all sorts: calories, proteins, fats, carbs. So, there’s a timing thing, which I think, it’s a big part of it. A lot of the innovation in coffee in the recent years has been focussed very much on taste and artisan and production, which is awesome. But again, just no one focussed on the caffeine side and the health benefits, and which is much more important for people now. So, I still think it’s the timing thing.

So, we launched TrueStart, the first coffee in the world to have a consistent measure of the level of caffeine so you feel fantastic with no crash. Day one, so, Simon and I, have always known, we wanted to grow more than much more than just a cool product. We wanted to build an iconic brand, that really means something to people. So, day one was Simon and I in a field, in Taunton, with about 20 people that were running a 10k. We were handing out shots of TrueStart saying, have a great run. We always wanted to be there to experience a brand, of feeling great.

Jeremy Vernon: How was that perceived at the time? Because presumably, coffee is one of the things people were handing out. It was gels. It was all sorts of energy drinks. How was that with coffee? Why? I mean.

Helena Hills: Well, funny enough. It’s a really good question. So, I was drinking coffee as a pre-workout. You see, I was drinking. Because everyone knows that caffeine gives you a boost. So, it becomes quite a common part of pre-workout drinks. A lot of people don’t want synthetic pre-workout drink and the energy drinks anymore. So, I was part of a large number of people using coffee for energy boost for that exact reason. So, it wasn’t as weird as you would may think. That some people like, wanted a bit of education like, why a coffee before a run? That kind of takes me onto… we ended up really focussing on sport actually, because there was such clear attraction like, everybody just understood it completely. There was a clear use case.

Jeremy Vernon: That’s more endurance sport, is it, more than anything?

Helena Hills: Mainly, because it was where Simon and I, we really knew it.

Jeremy Vernon: You knew where your interest was.

Helena Hills: Yeah, exactly. I mean we were training for that IRONMAN triathlon. So, we were into endurance. You know, running, cycling is a big part of our lives at the time. So, it makes sense to focus there. We’ve just grown a fantastic like, super loyal team TrueStart we called them as true TrueStart.

Jeremy Vernon: I’ve seen them in the media. It looks great. Obviously, people are very brand loyal as well.

Helena Hills: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So, I really think that the key reason that we’ve grown so quickly, has been our customers and our obsession is the right word, actually with customers experience. They’re like my friends. Our customers are our friends. We really care about them, feeling part about the brand. Yeah, they are not a number. They know it.

Jeremy Vernon: You sort of obviously sit in a very unusual place, because you’ve mentioned obviously, you’ve gone down the sports nutrition market, which is highly competitive. We, as a business, also working the various elements of that industry. Coffee, which is ubiquitous, isn’t it?

Helena Hills: It is.

Jeremy Vernon: Because there’s a coffee shop everywhere. I mean, when I was doing some research on coffee, it does surprise to hear that they’re predicting that coffee shops would exceed a number of pubs by 2030.

Helena Hills: Yeah, and that’s generational thing as well. People are drinking less alcohol.

Jeremy Vernon: Yeah. So, you sit as a hybrid, I supposed, sports nutrition and the whole caffeine coffee industry that we are beginning to see go absolutely crazy on our High Street. Where do you see you going? Are you going, potentially going to go more to the coffee side or just the drinker or stay in sports nutrition or somewhere else?

Helena Hills: So, this is very timely questioned. Towards the end of last year, Simon and I, realised that TrueStart have reached like a juncture, where we had 2 choices essentially, to grow the business. One, was to go down fully down the sports nutrition route, and become a sports nutrition business. If you have sports nutrition as a market, a really tiny portion of that is caffeinated. Even tinier a portion of that is coffee flavoured.

Jeremy Vernon: Is that the going down to education?

Helena Hills: Maybe, because you do need more than just caffeine in sports nutrition. You absolutely knew what it will to your heart and everything else. If you want to become a full-fledged sports nutrition brand, you need to do the whole shebang. There are loads of awesome sports nutrition companies out there. It is not a market with a gap. But I have brands, that I like within sports nutrition. So, the caffeine obviously, has got much with TrueStart.

Jeremy Vernon: That, of course.

Helena Hills: It would require TrueStart to go down the non-coffee, non- caffeinated route for a good proportion of that product range. Then the other route, was to go down the coffee. Now, the coffee industry, we’ve always said from the beginning, is what needed disrupting? If you go and stand in the supermarket and look at the coffee aisle, it is pretty boring. It has not change very much over the last few years. there’s just not any innovation, because it’s so dominated by the massive brands that we all know. I don’t have to say who they are. There is no brand within coffee. There is plenty of artisan.

But again, that is a very different sort of use case. There’s no brand within coffee. No, mainstream brand that resonates with the younger generation. So, we’re talking under 40s here, millennials and beyond. There is just no brand to match their evolving coffee sort of behaviour, which is very different to baby boomers who are more into sort of drinking 10 cups of instant coffee a day. It’s very, very different to the younger generation. The younger generation want more. They expect more out of brands.

So, they’re not looking at brands, just to meet sort of like a nutritional need. They’re looking at brands, to me, an emotional need. Quite often, a spiritual need. There’s a lot to it as well as the physical and emotional, sorry, nutritional need.

Simon and I, we’re all about the brand and the impact the brand can have on a person. That is the gap that we see. There is a huge gap for a refreshing brand, an iconic brand, a vibrant brand, within coffee, for that will be the Number 1 choice for the younger generation.

Jeremy Vernon: Presumably, the benefits of all the factored in the space of sports nutrition at the moment as health benefits to that as well. So, not only are you trying to build a trendy brand, is that as a trend, something that’s…?

Helena Hills: I would say it’s iconic.

Jeremy Vernon: Iconic is better, okay.

Helena Hills: We want to TrueStart to become representative of our attitudes towards life, which is like just diving into your day, getting the most out of it and feeling good about being yourself.

Jeremy Vernon: Do you also think within that generation, which we’ve touched on briefly that a lot less people are drinking alcohol in that generation?

Helena Hills: Yes.

Jeremy Vernon: You think that’s part of where you see this fits?

Helena Hills: Yes, very much so. It really is. So, Simon and I, who used to be amongst the heaviest drinkers in our group of friends. I’m frank to admit that. At the beginning of last year, we actually decided to stop drinking alcohol. We completely stopped, because we’re very all or nothing

Jeremy Vernon: I’m a bit like that.

Helena Hills: Yeah. We’re not like 2-beer people.

Jeremy Vernon: It’s 20.

Helena Hills: Yeah. Totally, like we just can’t. With everything in life, we’re very much the whole dive in thing, I just said that’s our philosophy, which is why it’s important that TrueStart matches. But yeah, we decided to stop drinking alcohol, and haven’t looked back. I, literally, don’t even want alcoholic drink. I’m pregnant now. So, as if it doesn’t make a difference, anyway.

Jeremy Vernon: Just like you said, obviously, congratulations.

Helena Hills: But Simon is the same. Neither of us, and we’ve been to every… Simon has just got back from a Stag Do At The Weekend. We’ve been to every social situation now, weddings, festivals, everything. We don’t even want to drink.

Jeremy Vernon: No alcohol at all.

Helena Hills: No, and it’s not stopping us going to, it’s not even stopping us to raves. It’s just not part of our lives anymore. It turns out, we’re not alone. Like a lot of people are feeling the same, that they can, just because they don’t drink, or they want to drink less, or maybe, they do want to drive home, or maybe they just want to enjoy a couple of really nice high-quality drinks and not…

Jeremy Vernon: I think that you’ve touched then before. It’s about education of health, isn’t it, people who are far more health conscious now than they’ve ever been.

Helena Hills: Absolutely, yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: People know more about the effects of certain things. We all know about alcoholism isn’t a positive thing.

Helena Hills: I know, it’s a bit…

Jeremy Vernon: I think, in moderation.

Helena Hills: In what, moderation, yeah. I believe that this sort of younger cohort are all about juxtaposition. It’s all about having it all. It’s this funny sort of conflict at the heart of this generation, which is actually controlling more like, what? Like caffeine. In daily life, alcohol. In daily life, like the health of their food in order to actually, get more out of life. It’s like they’re controlling more in order to actually experience more and enjoy more, which is juxtaposition. But it’s all about experiences in getting more out of life. In order to do that, they want to live longer. They want to be healthier so they can do crazy things like, extreme hammocking or whatever it is people want to do.

Jeremy Vernon: So, you’re talking about this sort of pivot, I suppose didn’t the business. What are you doing? What’s the business is going to do to pivot to try and to go to that newer market?

Helena Hills: Okay. A good question again. So, sport will always be at our roots. We’re bringing absolutely our roots with us. So, this is all about unlocking the true TrueStart, I supposed, not that I sound too cheeky.

Jeremy Vernon: So, what are you going to rebrand it as? True TrueStart.

Helena Hills: It’ll still be TrueStart. But essentially, we will be working really, really hard on a massive rebrand with incredible group of people who really understand how to take everything that’s in Simon and I’s heads. I feel like Simon and I, have got TrueStart and what we wanted to be to maximum point we can with our own abilities. Because we’re not designers. We’re not actually marketers. We’re learning as we go, et cetera. We know what we want to choose that to be. We want to be this vibrant iconic brand, that people really resonate with. All this is in our heads. When people listen, they understand. But it’s been impossible for us to sort of get out there any more than we have. So, we’ve done a rebrand. We’ve got a new logo coming. We’ve got a new, it will look different to how it looks now.

Jeremy Vernon: The colours different or are you sticking with the same blue?

Helena Hills: That a level of familiarity, but much more vibrant. So, right now, with TrueStart feels quite serious and sporty. When you just take it at face value. So, if you see the product in a shop. Actually, our customers, when we ask them what they love about TrueStart, every single one of them says that the energy around the brand. So, when they see us at events, when they get to know us as a team, when they get to know other members of team TrueStart, it’s actually, the energy that they portray, that they love. It’s not about the seriousness and the performance. So, the word performance coffee, they’re going. Because actually, that is actually, against what we stand for. It’s very serious. We’re about helping people to be energised to get the most out of every day.

Jeremy Vernon: I think it’s fun.

Helena Hills: Having fun, yes. Less serious. Taking themselves less seriously. When I talk to my customers, they were about so much more than just, for example, sport maybe, running. For example, a triathlon, it’s part of their life. That is part of their life.

Jeremy Vernon: You have to dedicate a huge amount of time to something like that.

Helena Hills: Yeah, but it’s not their whole life. There’s an individual personality for everybody. Everybody is very different. We want to give people confidence to be themselves and be bold. They stand for what they stand for. It’s quite different. Oh, and…

Jeremy Vernon: Once… oh sorry.

Helena Hills: Just a rebrand. Sorry, we have a product range coming. A whole new product range. So, yeah, really exciting. Something that we’re also bringing in with the new launch, which is going to be in June, is a high sustainability. So, it’s really important to Simon and I. We noticed as individuals that I literally enjoy consuming a product less, if I’ve got to throw you some plastic in the bin. I don’t know, if you feel like that. But I’m really getting it more and more. Again, it’s from a friend of mine, in front of a lot of people, which is probably why it’s really a friend of mine for me at the moment. But it is impacting my enjoyment of a product.

So, we’ve decided to go hyper sustainable. I say, hyper sustainable, our home brew range, our instant whole bean fresh ground coffee. We’re also introducing espresso compatible parts. All of which will be 100 percent biodegradable.

Jeremy Vernon: Excellent, when?

Helena Hills: So, we’re really excited about that. We also want to be using the way in terms of bio-degradability to help other brands to do the same. Because there’s a lot of green washing that goes on around by bio-degradability. A lot of bio-degradable packaging that actually deposits chemicals on the ground, for example. So, it’s not ideal at all. So, we’re working with an amazing company who’ve developed Turning Ground with packaging where it doesn’t do that at all. It actually own bio-degradable produces a bit of bio-mass that actually helped the plants.

Jeremy Vernon: Is that really important to you as a business?

Helena Hills: It is, yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: What drives that? Because obviously, there’s a… you’re in business.

Helena Hills: Yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: You’re in business to make money ultimately. Not necessarily, your top drive, of course.

Helena Hills: No.

Jeremy Vernon: But no business will survive long term…

Helena Hills: It’s not business, if you’re not making money.

Jeremy Vernon: Correct. So, what is it that’s so important for you guys to see that’s sustainable and sort of ethical side to your business?

Helena Hills: Personally, my driver, is that, I’m doing TrueStart to prove that you can dream big and have crazy, I’ve never take on Nescafe type of drink.

Jeremy Vernon: It’s a big dream. It’s a high dream.

Helena Hills: Yeah, absolutely. You can build it, to save a bit of time. Obviously, it’s not going to happen overnight without compromising your ethics. I really believe that you can do that. I really don’t believe that it’s going to be easy. It’s not been easy. Otherwise, everyone will do it. But I was really, really believed that you can do that. We’re about to have a baby. I want our baby to grow and go, I can do that. I can work hard to achieve whatever my big dream is. That’s why it’s so important. Because anybody can take shortcuts. Anybody can, I don’t know how to say this. This is about swearing. I’m not going to swear.

Jeremy Vernon: You can swear, if you want.

Helena Hills: Oh, can I?

Jeremy Vernon: Yeah, yeah, we’re not bothered about that.

Helena Hills: I don’t want our child to grow up, thinking the only way to make it big in business is to f*ck people over. Yeah, that’s why I think, it’s so important.

Jeremy Vernon: Okay. Your passion obviously, for the business, just radiates. You can tell that. With the growth, with the scaling that, the grand plan has and obviously the rebrand and the pivot that you’re doing, do you think you will keep that personality of the brand? Because the personality, is, you and Simon, really, isn’t it, at the moment.

Helena Hills: Yes.

Jeremy Vernon: Do you think with the grand plan, that’s going to be quite difficult to maintain? Because…

Helena Hills: It’s going to be the opposite. I cannot tell you how excited I am, to have a brand that in how it looks and feels without Simon and I there, reflect how Simon and I look, like, feel, because at the moment, if you meet Simon and I or the rest of the team or our customers, and they introduce you to TrueStart, you will experience the personality of the brand that’s leading. But if you walk into a shop and just see on the shelf, you won’t, because it is much more serious. It doesn’t give off the same vibe. The new brand is going to look and feel this, energising…

Jeremy Vernon: And exciting.

Helena Hills: Yeah, absolutely. That’s the point of it. the point of it, is to actually, emulate like our big personality. It will do that better. I’m just so excited how the brand that we can therefore, scale without compromising our personality. It’s actually going to be easier. That’s the point of the rebrand. I actually, want our customers, and I say this right at the start, I want our customers to feel a relief when they see the new brand. I want them to feel like, ah… that is TrueStart. That’s what I knew. That’s what I know in my heart. Yeah, that’s how I want them to feel.

Jeremy Vernon: Did you say June is the unveiling of everything?

Helena Hills: Yeah. Yes, and we will be sort of teasing some stuff out in the interim, because we want to take our customers on this journey with us. So, we’re going to start communicating. Starting with our most loyal fans and making sure that they know what’s going on. It’s important, yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: Talked about the journey is relatively short so far. 2 years or so.

Helena Hills: Yep.

Jeremy Vernon: Just quickly, what were you actually doing before TrueStart? What was your job?

Helena Hills: It’s that I used to do software sales. Yeah, very different. Simon was an engineer, project manager in construction company. So, again, we’re really different.

Jeremy Vernon: Did you both give the career at the same time?

Helena Hills: No. You see, Simon was full time from day one. Then I was full time from 6 months in.

Jeremy Vernon: As I’ve said short journey so far, as any business owner will know, it’s not a straightforward, nor is it an easy road to success.

Helena Hills: No.

Jeremy Vernon: I supposed another question up until about what you define as successful. We’ll come back to that. But what sort of advice- have you got for anyone that’s starting out, obviously, this sort of our theme for our podcast is ecommerce. But a lot of this is just relevant to business, generally. Based on that sort of 2 years journey so far that you’ve had, what sort of things can you take away that you could give advice to people that are going, they may not expect sort of things to look out for or things to be realistic about, because it isn’t just a linear path, is it?

Helena Hills: No way.

Jeremy Vernon: It’s that rollercoaster or the cliffs and whatever it needs sort of analyse as what it’s just not straight line journey, is it?

Helena Hills: No, it’s really not. It’s not. I was just talking to Simon earlier today about how obviously we made mistakes and we learn every single- day. I really believe that, if you’re not making mistakes then you’re not making anything. We were saying, that we were in time, because we do things differently. Honestly, you have to make these mistakes yourself. Most of our mistakes, you could have told me beforehand, that was going to happen. I’m going to be like, no. Like I’m just going to do this. My biggest advice, is just do it. Just sitting and hate night for that to… it’s like it is the best way, if it’s great.

But it’s the case of if I see a lot of people who are budding, entrepreneurs often who have a great idea maybe. They wanted to be absolutely perfect, before they launch it. Or, they’re just so afraid of putting that idea out there, that it becomes completely… It becomes like in the end, they’ll never do it.

Jeremy Vernon: It’s overwhelming in a lot of cases, isn’t it?

Helena Hills: Yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: Because they’re like, I don’t know where to start a great idea.

Helena Hills: Absolutely.

Jeremy Vernon: I have no idea how to start.

Helena Hills: Exactly. The key, is, to actually just do something. It really doesn’t matter what you do, because nothing is irreversible. As long as you’re true to yourself, and you’re being you, and you’re being genuine, people understand that. People are human. If we’ve ever made a mistake, for oh god, even a small scale like, I don’t know, maybe, it’s taken too long to reply to a customer. We’re pretty big customer service. maybe, something slipped in there. You’ve got busy in box.

Jeremy Vernon: I’m sure you have.

Helena Hills: Then I’m apologetic about it. I’ll hold my hands up, and people completely appreciate that. It is just the case of getting on with it. If you have a look at the first product we launched, it was TrueStart Coffee in a crappy jar like literally, the jar that Tesco Value Coffee comes in. It looked like rubbish. We’ve got it downstairs. It’s like a little museum of where we did to-date.

Jeremy Vernon: To keep looking at it and going, that’s how we started. That’s where we started.

Helena Hills: Yes, and it’s crap. We knew full well when we launched that, but that is not where we wanted to be. That is not the vibrant iconic brand, that we wanted TrueStart. It’s like a bit… you can’t do that on day one. Oh my god, there’s so much learning that goes behind it. Learning about yourself as well. So, you’re just getting out there, and not being afraid of feedback. Relentlessly, asking for feedback actually, it’s a piece of advice I would give. We do that with our customers. When they give feedback, we are always really graciously receiving it, because it helps us improve. We make it easy for them.

So, it’s easy for people to get in touch with TrueStart. It’s probably, easier than it should be for them to get in touch with Simon and I, particularly, me. So, I do a lot of sort of messages. But we ask when you order things on our website, you get an email saying, how likely up 10 days later whatever, how likely are you up to scale of 1 to 10 to recommend this to your friend. Why? We are relentless with it. Our customers actually appreciate it. They told the truth. It’s fantastic. So, yeah, just do it. Get it out there. Make mistakes. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, because if you do not make mistakes, you are not making anything. So, making mistakes are actually good doing. Ask for feedback. Never sits still. Iterate, iterate. Improve, because you’ll never going to be the best version of yourself on day one. One point you’re never going to be the best version of yourself from the start. Right? That’s part of the fun of life. But yeah, it’s all about a constant improvement, iteration. That’s what keeps people excited to engage, anyway.

Jeremy Vernon: So, it’s part of that. What’s been your biggest challenge to get from where you’ve started to now?

Helena Hills: Building a team.

Jeremy Vernon: Okay.

Helena Hills: I knew there wasn’t much of a gap in between. I pressed in to give an answer.

Jeremy Vernon: When you say building a team, do you mean people management?

Helena Hills: Yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: Finding the right people.

Helena Hills: Both. Yeah. So, I would say, what about more costly mistakes, was, over-hiring to earlier on, before we even had really a product, that was ready to sell at scale, to be honest. So, you know when we had the jar after we had upgraded into pouch, et cetera. We went down the route of hiring a too large for where we were, but inexperienced team that therefore, required a lot of management, a lot of people management. Now, management is not Simon and I strong pursuit. It’s actually both of our areas of like the least experience.

Jeremy Vernon: It typically is. Entrepreneurs are not necessarily managers as such. They have provision. They have the big picture stuff, but it’s not necessarily they’re great at management they did say.

Helena Hills: Management side is really, really hard. It is. I mean that was a really big shock to the system. We have to learn quickly. We’re proud of some of the stuff we did. It was tough. Really, really tough to learn to manage two big teams too fast. We learn loads. Yeah, I would say that’s been the hardest thing. We’re at the place now, with the team that I’m really happy like I’ve never been happier.

Jeremy Vernon: How many are in the team now?

Helena Hills: We have 5.

Jeremy Vernon: 5.

Helena Hills: Yeah, not all full time.

Jeremy Vernon: Okay.

Helena Hills: Simon and I being in full time. that will go up to 3 full time. So, our Brand manager is going from part time to full time in May, for example. Yes.

Jeremy Vernon: Get used to recruiting, I think, is it?

Helena Hills: Yes.

Jeremy Vernon: I think for any business that scales.

Helena Hills: Yeah, it’s hard. Actually, my biggest piece of advice there, is, have a supply chain that you in trust implicitly. That is critical. It is critical. It has been so important to us. Oh my god, not only because actually, there are times, they can’t deliver anything. That also, for the advice in the extended team, that you end up with, through partnerships that I have close with other companies. That’s really important to us.

Jeremy Vernon: Obviously, from that point, you’ve got a very small team. You are very much leveraging other people’s time and expertise. Do you see that changing as a business? Because obviously, as you grow and scale, outsourcing that is quite a cold word, isn’t it, in some ways. Partnering, we prefer to call it.

Helena Hills: Yep, the same.

Jeremy Vernon: Do you see that as a long-term strategy for you guys? Because I guess, depending on what scale you look to get to. Some of these things will be eventually brought inhouse.

Helena Hills: Yeah, I mean I really believe that knowing your strengths and really playing to those strengths, is, the most sensible thing to do in business. We are all about incredible energising product that makes you feel amazing. Will the brand to match that makes you feel amazing? That’s where we want to focus. When it comes to anything, well, I’m talking to you, when it comes to fulfilment, I’m not particularly interested in becoming an expert in that field, because you have experts in that field. So, I’ve do think long term in every way is a key part of what you do.

Jeremy Vernon: We come back to the team bit, obviously, husband and wife team, you live, breathe, sleep, the business effectively, you’re just about to bring obviously…

Helena Hills: A baby.

Jeremy Vernon: A baby, TrueStart. And so, the team, how is that as a business? Again, there’s a lot of people, if they start business, they might be a soloentrepreneur. So, it’s quite a lonely place to be, really. Obviously, you’ve got each other to support each other, which is fantastic. But I’m sure this downsize that as well. The fact, that you have no, there’s no downtime from TrueStart for you guys, is that?

Helena Hills: No. Sometimes, we used to joke. We felt sorry for the team, because we will come in the morning. Overnight, we decided like 10,000 things.

Jeremy Vernon: How daunting for you?

Helena Hills: Yeah, exactly. What they’re supposed to do? How are supposed to keep up with that? I know that the pace that Simon and I move at, is probably very much, because we’re together most of the time. it is quite hard to keep up with. So, in terms like working together, people quite often say, oh god, we don’t know how you do it. We just do whatever. I don’t know how people do it the way around. Because I cannot imagine, if Simon wasn’t involved in TrueStart, for example, I can’t imagine. I’ll be boring him into tears. I’m sorry I would, and vice versa.

So, I think we really lucky in that respect. We very really on the same page of where we wanted to be. But, to be honest, honesty and openness, this had to be really important from day one. We had to make sure that we’re really… Often, we revisit. We’re always making sure that we’re wanting the same things. Because the minute that we start to want different things, and we’re not honest about it, with each other for the business, for individuals then that will cause problems to the business. So, we’re very openminded for as the business evolves, the business is separate to Simon and I as a relationship, as individuals.

Jeremy Vernon: It must be hard to separate that.

Helena Hills: It is hard to separate. We have to consciously do it. This is what I mean. So, we talk about our vision for TrueStart when we see it going. We talk about our vision as a couple, whoever you want to be. At some point, there will be, I just give you an example, of completely hypothetical, Simon covers the whole operational side of the business, admin as well as million other things. He’ll go maybe, one day, I do not want to do that anymore. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want you to do TrueStart. It mean he doesn’t want the same things for TrueStar. But we have to find somebody that does want to be that part of the business. So, it’s that understanding what the business, where he wanted to be and what it means to get that, understanding where we want to be and making sure that both gaps are filled. Does that make sense?

Jeremy Vernon: Yeah, yeah.

Helena Hills: Yeah, considering myself really lucky to have a husband who is completely on the same. I know he feels the same way. We really love it. We started this really, because we wanted to feel like it’s incredible together. That’s what we’re doing.

Jeremy Vernon: In terms of support for you guys, building this brand, do you buy into the whole finding mentors, finding people that are further ahead than you, that have maybe done some things similar, not necessarily exactly the same thing, but someone to learn from and guide you as part of this journey.

Helena Hills: God, yeah. I think it will be crazy not to. I spent a lot of time. I like allocate setting up my time to helping people who are at this sort of ideas stage of their business, that pays forward the mentorship that I received. So, very earlier on, right at the beginning of TrueStart, we started on business accelerator called Entrepreneurial Spark, which is in partnership with NatWest. So, we had this sort of office space and everything, which is great. It’s completely free. It’s a brilliant system. The biggest like, the most amazing thing about that, you’ve got mentorship. You’ve got sort of structured mentorship. You also a community of lots of other entrepreneurs doing their very own thing, in their own way.

Jeremy Vernon: Likeminded people.

Helena Hills: Yeah. The biggest part of that, was, it removed and actually, the fact that Simon knew where it’s going to be removed as well. What I think is one of the hardest parts of starting your own business, which is the loneliness. Because that it can be hard to deal with. Even though Simon and I, are together so we’re not alone, because there are two of us. Even then that can be hard to deal with. So, being in that community of other people feeling the same, was like a life saver on the down days. It’s a massive roller coaster. I’ve always just reach out to people I want to speak to. So, if I, for example, really respect a brand, I, literally, reach out to the Founder. It might be great to have a chat. Often, we can help each other as well.

Jeremy Vernon: Have you ever had reasonable success with that?

Helena Hills: Oh, yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: They’re quite happy to give that.

Helena Hills: Yeah. Like, I think, people reach out to me as well. I help them. Often, I think, people are… there’s a perception of business, isn’t there? Whereas, if you think you reach out to that really busy person, they’re often I find that, they’re most responsive, much more responsive than you’re reaching out to a salesperson. Fundamentally, that’s true, because they care. They really, really care. Yeah, we have some incredible mentors around us. The guys at Entrepreneurial Spark had just been amazing. That extends to the bank actually. I always feel weird like, I went on talking about how amazing the bank had been like.

Jeremy Vernon: It’s not funny to hear that. I can assure you.

Helena Hills: It’s really not. But they are like when you get to know the people and what they’re actually trying to do, they’re doing this, because they genuinely want to help entrepreneurs. That mentorship has been valuable. We’ve got some incredible, the former MD for Douwe Egberts, is one of our investors. He’s been invaluable.

Jeremy Vernon: That’s quite acute, isn’t it?

Helena Hills: Yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: To have someone of that, I mean, they presumably, seen something within the brand that they feel there’s long term picture.

Helena Hills: In these things that they give confidence earlier. One of the Founding Partners for Nakd Bars, do you know Nakd Bars. He’s also an investor. I mean these guys have got just decades of incredible experience.

Jeremy Vernon: How much time do you get with these investors that can help you sort of with the day-to-day decisions?

Helena Hills: As much as we need. We don’t tend to need it too much. Because you just tend to get on with it. But, if I ever have something that I just do not know how to deal this, I’ll give them a call. They’re phenomenal. The other guy who just been incredible, is, the guy who heads up the whole coffee imports, I divert the business. He’s the first guy we’ve ever really told about TrueStart. He’s got again decades of experience in coffee. He just has been invaluable. It’s the reaching out to people and asking them to help. I always find especially, for the specific about the help that you need, which is the top tip, I supposed. People always happy to help. As if you’re wishy washy, where people… certainly, when I receive a question, if it’s wishy washy, I’m like, oh god, I don’t know if I meet up with you, or I’m going to be giving you 4 hours of my time to talk about nothing. If somebody’s got a specific challenge they’re earlier on in their business, I’ll happy give them an hour over coffee. I do allocate a certain amount of time to that per month. Because, otherwise, he got out of control at one point, Simon was like, you’ve got your own business to build, isn’t it?

Jeremy Vernon: So, you’re a big believer in paying forward basically, in helping others.

Helena Hills: Massively paying forward, yeah. We actually have another business. It’s a social enterprise called, Helpfulpeeps, which is all about paying forward. I have had to step back. I’m mainly involved as Simon’s wife. It was a group of 4 of us that started it.

Jeremy Vernon: Okay. Come back to the product, something I’ve noticed that I’ve not seen before, which I thought, was really interesting, is, your Nitro Coffee Cold Brew. Do you want to talk a little bit?

Helena Hills: It’s cool, isn’t it? Yeah. So, last year, obviously we established ourselves with our retail range. But last year, we were thinking really hard about, how do we take TrueStart out of home? And where it really belongs especially, with this younger cohort of much more about out of home coffee?

Jeremy Vernon: Is this helped with the rebrand and pivot of the business?

Helena Hills: Yes, it has. It’s helped us both in a way that’s given us something to test the market with in the meantime. That’s the main way, I supposed. We were like, right, we’ve got our hot coffee beans now. We started with instant. We’ve got our whole beans now so we can, you know, café has served those. That’s fine. But it’s been done, hasn’t it? Our beans have been amazing. Definitely, buy our beans and serve them in your café. But we wanted to be leading the way in terms of coffee innovation and experience and excitement. We just felt it was a bit flat. We just looked towards what’s going on in the States, because fundamentally, they’re a few years ahead. Nitro Cold Brew Coffee has just gone through the roof over there. We’re like, yeah, that’s interesting. Why? Why is that? So, you know what Nitro Cold Brew Coffee is. It’s a cold brew coffee is when you brew fresh ground coffee with cold water. You leave it overnight. It makes a brewed coffee, but with no heat or pressure, which is fundamentally a lot smoother and naturally sweeter than regular coffee. It’s lighter. It’s not intense tasting.

Jeremy Vernon: As a coffee drinker, I’m not sure I get the cold coffee bit. I’m going to say, I’ve not tried it.

Helena Hills: It’s sort of whoa. After this, you can have some downstairs. There’s a very big difference in generation attitudes to these things. We’ve seen it. It’s quite incredible actually. It’s introducing a lot more consumers to coffee, because it’s more broadly appealing. It’s introducing customers at a younger age to coffee, replacing teenagers having energy drinks, which I think, it’s only a good thing. That’s cold brew. Nitro Cold Brew is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen. It sounds very fancy.

Jeremy Vernon: That sounds very fascinating. What does that mean then?

Helena Hills: So, the nitrogen is in the same way that Guinness is nitrogenated. The nitrogen makes it fluffy and creamer and smooth.

Jeremy Vernon: It settles, does it, nitrogen?

Helena Hills: It’s literally looks like a Guinness. It comes out of the tap. You get that indulgent, head on the top. So, it’s really foamy and indulgent and fluffy in texture. So, you get all the sort of like, indulgent latte vibes, but with no milk or sugar. So, actually, when you look at again the younger generation, who want about juxtaposition. They want to have it all. They want health. They want indulgence. It makes sense, because they’re having all the taste, all the experience, more experience, even than the regular coffee. Because it looks like a Guinness, for god’s sake. But it’s absolutely good for them. It’s just an exciting innovation. So, that’s what people are looking for.

Jeremy Vernon: I noticed I’ve seen, just looking at the sort of places that you have this product in nightclubs, mostly in Bristol.

Helena Hills: Yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: The Velodrome and boutique gym has switch, I supposed, it’s going a little bit back towards the ssports nutrition side of things, isn’t it?

Helena Hills: Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, it is a great energy drink, whether you’re not having it for the gym, or you’re having it hopefully, one day, it will be at every petrol station. So, you’re on a long drive, you can have a TrueStart rather than a Red Bull. We also have it in lots of café. We have bars that serve it, because Espresso Martini is the most popular cocktail out there. It’s a massive fast food blast to actually make, Espresso Martinis. Simon was telling me, this stag where he was at on Saturday actually, they’re always taking the piss out of Simon, because obviously, coffee, they call him, coffee as a joke and stuff. They went into a pub and ask for a bar. They ask for 15 Espresso Martinis. Probably, one, well, not for Simon, just to drink with Simon. The barman said, no, because it takes too long. They ended up leaving, going to another pub. So, it’s quite good example, actually how…

Jeremy Vernon: Did he try and sell Coffee Nitro?

Helena Hills: No, he was like I wanted to. But that’s pretty common. So, it’s really easy, efficient, consistent way for bar staff to serve a whole load of cool cocktails without needing to a cocktail master.

Jeremy Vernon: Do you see something like the Nitro, is that something that you see as a home, someone buying one of those for their home. Is that the big idea in some ways?

Helena Hills: Yeah. So, right now, the machines, they’re in investment. There’s no way unless you just got capital burning a hole in your pocket. It’s no way…

Jeremy Vernon: Some people will help.

Helena Hills: Yes, but certainly, not ready for the vast market, because there are a few thousand pounds or a few hundred pounds. But I would love to have a small home version that is affordable like a little coffee machine is.

Jeremy Vernon: Is that part of the plan?

Helena Hills: Not short term. What actually, we are launching though, is, a range of bottled cold brew coffees, which I am so excited about. So, out bottled cold brew coffees become our primary Hero shop window products along with the Nitro. But obviously, that serve in values. Whereas, the bottles you’ll be able to buy those in for of course, in convenience stores and…

Jeremy Vernon: Ready to drink basically.

Helena Hills: Exactly. They’ll be ready to drink cold brew coffee. Yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: Fantastic. Well, I can’t wait to see all these things come to fruition. So, we’ll keep an eye on that. We’ll keep an eye on that. One thing, we touched on obviously, again, short sort of 2-year window there and about at the moment. But celebrating success, I’m just list a few things here, that I’ve seen that you’ve achieved. In terms of awards, The Great British Scale-up Entrepreneur of the Year 2017, NatWest Everywoman Brand of the Future 2017, Entrepreneurial Spark, Entrepreneur of the Moment 2016, RBS Global Focused Women Nominee Award 2016, GB Entrepreneur year Finalists 2015 and 2016. I believe Business Insider, one of the top 5 brands to watch.

Helena Hills: Yeah, that was last month.

Jeremy Vernon: It’s sort of athlete, particularly in 2 years.

Helena Hills: No, no.

Jeremy Vernon: How do you celebrate success?

Helena Hills: Now well. This is something we’re always trying to improve that. Yeah, it kind of ties back to your question about Simon and I, working together. We’ve got a lot better in our first, it’s certainly the first year. We’re actually currently 3 years now. Now, I think about it rather than to, certainly our first year, maybe our first year was really bad at switching off and celebrating success. Actually, that led to burnout on quite a number of occasions. So, we are way better at taking time for ourselves to replenish and grow actually, which has been brilliant. It’s really important. We’re also better at celebrating success. But yeah, it can be quite easy to… When you’re working too hard towards something, and I’m not saying an award, I’m saying the big picture, and then the award comes along the way.

Jeremy Vernon: It’s just nice to have, isn’t it?

Helena Hills: Yeah. You’re, kind of like, oh, great, good, because I’m working so hard. It’s part of knowing you’re getting there. But actually, you need to take a step back and breathe in and go, that’s awesome. This week, we have been talking about this a lot, because this weekend, is part of the long weekend we’re planning on, and having it like, we’re going to go away to hotel and a spa and sit, and take time for ourselves to go through every single month the TrueStart existed, and write down what’s happened in that month, and sort of make a bit of backdated diary of it, which we’re really looking forward to.

Jeremy Vernon: Is there a book in there?

Helena Hills: No, no, no. I think, to be honest, one day, I probably will when I have the time and the inclination, I would really love to document this story, because it is a story. I think, genuinely something that while I want to get it down, whether anyone else wants to read that. I don’t know.

Jeremy Vernon: Other people genuinely, are interested in hearing success stories. When I said success stories, obviously they know there are ups and downs within that. I think people are really, really intrigued about hearing what it takes to go from, nothing to wherever you end up.

Helena Hills: Yeah, because it’s easy to focus on social media in general. We now, as a society only focus on highlight surreal. I think it’s really good to give the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s what we’ll do. That’s what Simon and I, are going to write down. This is just for our own benefit this weekend. But then it will be documented. Obviously, brains get full and forget things. We’re like, god, we need to get as down. So, I’m sure one day, we will write a book about it. I guess in a funny way, that’s what we’ll be doing this weekend. Then it’s the end of financial year. So, it actually ties in quite well. Yeah, we are getting much better at it, just in a way that we recognise the value in and importance of just switching off, and taking time for ourselves, and not just putting constant pressure on yourself to do more, do more. Because you do burn out. We’ve burned out a few times. But I would say, for 6 months now, we’ve been so much better with that. We’ve restricted ourselves in.

Jeremy Vernon: I think entrepreneurs, because they see a sort of bigger picture stuff, the vision stuff. These don’t tend to be recognised well, the little wins, not always big wins, are they?

Helena Hills: No.

Jeremy Vernon: But awards and achievements and new product launches, all those such things are just the milestones, aren’t they? They’re success, which I think, entrepreneurs, I think, I’m even calling myself probably similar, we don’t celebrate enough. We don’t make enough of probably the good things we’ve achieved.

Helena Hills: Also, your expectations change, don’t they?

Jeremy Vernon: They do.

Helena Hills: Because right at the beginning, we were talking this to you about some of the things, we’ve sort of excited about achieving or doing in the beginning. I’ve got my pregnant brain has gone completely blank. But just whatever they were, and nowadays, things are like…

Jeremy Vernon: The norm.

Helena Hills: My god, they don’t think like… Actually, that is just incredible in itself. You should never forget how you felt when you did that like. I remember how well we’ve got the Holland & Barrett listing. It was just amazing, incredible feeling ever.

Jeremy Vernon: So, where were you at that time? or when sort of picture where you were when you’ve got that news?

Helena Hills: Okay. That’s a quite good story actually. It was on Christmas Eve, a couple of years ago, and the Holland & Barrett Head Office funny enough is one-minute away from Simon’s mom’s house. So, we were up with her for Christmas. We went and met the guys at Holland & Barrett. They’re all wearing like Christmas jumpers with bells on them. it was a fun meeting actually when you think about it, the bio-meetings. I’m not intimidated by them now, but certainly then. My god, that was…

Jeremy Vernon: That was a big thing.

Helena Hills: That was big thing.

Jeremy Vernon: They put so much pressure on yourself, as far as I know.

Helena Hills: Yeah. you don’t have as much confidence in yourself. Whereas now, I’m like very confident in what we’re doing. If somebody doesn’t like it then I can’t do anymore. Whereas, then there’s less confidence very early on. They agreed to list the product and be part of that big launch of our pouches and everything, which was paste jar era. We were just… I’ve got a photo of us outside our branded van, wearing like sun to hats and be outside the Holland & Barrett Head Office, just being like really excited like, yeah. Just that feeling was absolutely amazing. I think we’ve wrought the listing, is exciting. We’ve got onto the list. But yeah, you definitely, you expect more of yourself as things go on.

Jeremy Vernon: How was that gone with the business generally? Is it the Holland & Barrett sort of exposure?

Helena Hills: Oh, brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I mean, the great thing about Holland & Barrett, is, they give you nationwide distribution and reach. I actually think they really need new companies to ride with. I mean, I know a lot of people have not had quite the same experience maybe, it’s the particular team we work with there, we found to be fantastic.

Jeremy Vernon: Okay, great. Then we talked about the sort of rebranding pivot of the business. Have you just sort of end? Where do you see where is the big vision? What is the vision? What does TrueStart look like in 5 years’ time, let’s say?

Helena Hills: we want TrueStart be the Number 1 coffee choice to the younger generation. Known, respected, exciting for people, a brand that people know and love and want to engage with. All of this not an expensive our ethics as we’ve talked about earlier. That’s what we’re aiming for. We used to say we’re building the Red Bull of coffee, which is not a great analogy, because obviously, Red bull like a serious energy drink. But it just gives you an idea of that as the scale size of that aspirations, which are that big. Red Bull was born in the same year as Simon and I. We’re under no allusion that this is not going to happen overnight. We’re in it for the long goal.

So, we’re just always going to be looking at what’s next, and how come we achieve that big a vision of being the Number 1 coffee choice for the younger generation, energising people to get the most out of every day? How can we do that better right now? Whether it’s new products, new innovations, because you’ve got to say how the consumers… So, you’re got to really understand the consumer and what they want out of brands? How their coffee consumptions is changing, for example, and create products that they really want at that time? What the consumer wants in 5 years? It will be different to now. It was different in 5 years ago. We’ve got to make sure that we’re providing that in order to build that business in a way. We want to achieve that vision. So, yeah, it’s just about never sitting still, I supposed.

Jeremy Vernon: Whilst obviously, I was doing a little bit of research for this, I’ve found some coffee facts that I was really surprised to hear. Just wonder if you’ve got any comments. Just to end with something a little bit like art…

Helena Hills: Cool.

Jeremy Vernon: Coffee beans second most sought after commodity after crude oil.

Helena Hills: Second, yeah, highly traded commodity.

Jeremy Vernon: Highly traded.

Helena Hills: Yeah. So, crude oil is the most traded commodity in the world, I know. Coffee is next, yeah. So, it’s the most highly traded sort of consumer’s goods I supposed.

Jeremy Vernon: Yeah, I mean obviously, we’ve talked about the sort of coffee shops all around and the sort of increase in the awareness of coffee. But I wouldn’t thought, it was quite to that scale.

Helena Hills: Massive, yeah. Massive. It shows how much coffee in competition actually there is out there. But it is so broad.

Jeremy Vernon: One thing obviously, you’ve talked about this ethics and sort of the really been true to the whole time as well, you’ve talked about, and realising that the coffee farms is the livelihood for over 25 million people.

Helena Hills: Amazing, isn’t it?

Jeremy Vernon: So, it’s obviously, very small terms of each individual farm. So, just briefly, how do source yours? I sit a particular farm? Or is it a consortium?

Helena Hills: A particular region, and then for our Nitro Blend and our Cold Brew, we’ve brought them out from Columbia. It’s a South American blend. Because it tastes different. Cold Brew and Nitro, they taste different. So, in Columbia, I think, it’s an amazing country. It’s the only coffee producing nation that has a National Federation of Coffee Growers, which protects their farmers in the same way that Fair Trade does, for example. All coffee produced in nations are very different. We have some that are inherently more fair, than others. Columbia is amongst the best. The big difference with Columbia, is that, most of the farms in Columbia are independent, in terms they are family run farms rather than sort of big…

Jeremy Vernon: Big corporates.

Helena Hills: Big corporates, yeah. Exactly. So, it’s really important part of so many families in Columbia. It’s a massive important industry. So, the Government actually looks after them pretty well, or certainly, put some measures there. There’s always improvements that can defend rights. But yeah, it’s really interesting. Our farmers are part of a consortium locally, that puts a lot back into the community. So, for infrastructure, local infrastructure, to education, to nutrition.

Jeremy Vernon: Brilliant.

Helena Hills: So, there’s a lot going on.

Jeremy Vernon: Okay. A couple of final fact. One, I’ve never realised that coffee was discovered or invented, I supposed is the wrong word. But in Ethiopia, that according to…

Helena Hills: Do you know what it only rings a bell for me. It’s not something I know loads about.

Jeremy Vernon: But I was surprised. I would have expected to be South America, to be honest. But certainly, the amount of coffee. But now, is the farm.

Helena Hills: Yeah, it’s South America are doing quite a good job of marketing, that being there I supposed. Often, people think of things like Columbia and coffee is super premium. But there is so many ancient

Jeremy Vernon: Worldwide.

Helena Hills: Yeah, absolutely. I mean so many. So, yeah, I was learning, I was written a blog page called, Beyond the Beer, all about the future of coffee. It includes a pot of history of coffee. Because coffee comes in what we called, consumer waves. So, you’ve got first wave, second wave, third wave, fourth wave, and now, fifth wave of coffee. All about how it’s started to get big from coffee houses from the Middle East, branching into Europe and becoming a real sort of social hotspot.

Jeremy Vernon: Okay, very interesting history. The final one, that was on health benefits, we’ve touched on. But how true this says, hopefully, you can tell me? What coffee helps to reduce developing such sort of age-related diseases as type 2 diabetes and that sort of

Helena Hills: Dementia. Parkinson, yeah.

Jeremy Vernon: Parkinson that’s what it says, I think?

Helena Hills: Parkinson. Yeah, there’s been studies. So, coffee is really interesting. You know, obviously. I’m giving to say that. it is the highest moment. It’s concentrated source of antioxidants in the western diet. But there’s always interesting studies coming out about… we don’t do these studies inhouse. So, we rely on all the amazing people out there that are doing them. Showing this certain amount of good quality coffee can help combat things like, dementia, Parkinsons, and mental illness as well, depression, anxiety certainly and yeah, the list is pretty extensive. There’s quite a lot of information on our website actually. It’s all referenced if you want to dig as well, which can be really interesting if you’ve sort of got a day of reading.

Jeremy Vernon: Just some education on coffee and the health benefits.

Helena Hills: Yeah, it is. There’s a lot of natural present antioxidants and minerals in good quality non-destroyed coffee, which I supposed bring other benefits, such as waking you up.

Jeremy Vernon: Okay. Look, thank you. Thank you very much for taking the time to do this today.

Helena Hills: It’s a pleasure. I enjoyed it.

Jeremy Vernon: It’s been really good. I wish you all very, very much success. Obviously, we’ll hopefully see the fruits of this rebranding and the pivot very soon. So, just that people aware, how do they get in contact with you? Where do they find you if they want to sort of chat to you about your product or coffee or just you? Where can they find you?

Helena Hills: So, our website is We’re on social media, TrueStart Coffee. So, @truestartcoffee on Twitter and Instagram. You can find us on Facebook. You can find me as well on Twitter and instgram @helenahills58. Yeah, get in touch. Look forward to hear from you.

Jeremy Vernon: Once again, thank- you, Helena. It’s been good to have you.

Helena Hills: Absolutely a pleasure. It’s a great time for me. I’ve loved it.

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