55: Coconut products – Interview with Jacob Thundil from Cocofina

Today we feature Jacob Thundil from Cocofina who was featured on the British entrepreneur show Dragons’ Den.

thundil

What kind of business do you run? When did you start it and where is it based?

I run Cocofina a coconut company. We produce a range of 30 products with coconut. All of our products are 100% natural and majority of them are organic. I started 11 years ago and we are based in Eastcote.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. What inspired you to start this business?

I was born in Kerala. While I was at university my dad passed away and I ended up running his business and completing a mechanical engineering degree. After completing my studies I decided to leave the family business to pursue an MBA and work in large companies like BT, Accenture, HSBC, Virgin Media etc. When I got to 30 years I started looking for ways to leave the corporate world. While I was in Brazil on a business trip and still contemplating on what to do I was given a coconut to drink and I rediscovered coconut water. I decided that this is what I wanted to do. When I was searching for names I wanted to focus on a name which signified a quality product hence ‘Cocofina’

Which resources to run your business do you use most?

My colleagues are the most invaluable resource.

What would you recommend new entrepreneurs? How to get started?

Start small and be quick don’t be afraid. Often when you have a job and you leave it start a business it can be lonely but this is a temporary phase. Life is game make sure you have enough lives left to play to cover for the mistakes you will make early on. In the early stages try to favour variable costs over fixed costs and have enough money to be able to live in case everything goes badly.

How was your experience in Dragons’ Den? What would be your advice to other people want to appear?

My experience on Dragons’ Den was amazing although you see 15 minutes on TV we were in the Den for 2.5 hours! My advice would be prepare and be yourself.

Any books about entrepreneurship you can recommend?

I am currently reading the Barefoot Spirit. Its an interesting story of a couple who built a very successful wine business with lots of business lessons.

Outside of business what do you enjoy doing? How do you recharge your batteries?

I visit the gym twice a week and cook afterwards with my 15 year old son its our time to catch up. I like going out to eat and travelling.

Tell us some fun facts about you or your business!

All the products originated in my kitchen. At any time there is at least 50 products which were made in the kitchen and not taken into production.

What is the best business decision you’ve ever made?

The best decisions were to wait to appoint distributors in the various countries. In the early stages we were not attracting the right calibre of distributors.

What’s your fondest memory working on this business?

Visiting Japan for a trade show. We had so much fun experiencing a new culture.

Tell us more about the “Great Taste Award”. Do you need to apply to get it and do you think it helps sales?

You need to apply and they close the application when it gets to 10,000 products, Panels of judges judge products and awards and given out. It helps sales since consumers recognise it.

What are your future plans for the company?

We plan to make Cocofina a global house hold brand name!

To learn more about Jacob’s company please visit Cocofina.com.

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