Featuring Sarah Sharratt, Founder of Slurp Cocktail Mixes
With registration for our Concept to Market Sprint program opening soon, we thought we'd check-in with one of our program alumni: Slurp Cocktail Mixes.
Sarah Sharratt, the founder of Slurp, opened up to our team about her journey thus far, what it was like undergoing an 8-week sprint with Venturepark Labs, and more insights into entrepreneurship.
Venturepark Labs: Hi Sarah - tell us more about your product!
Sarah Sharratt: I have created a line of all-natural cocktail mixes called Slurp. Freshly squeezed citrus juices are mixed with uniquely flavoured simple syrups so all the customer needs to do is add their alcohol of choice. We started with three SKUs: Lime & Basil Margarita Mix, Grapefruit & Mint Mix and a Ginger Lemonade Mix. Born out of the difficult time that was Covid-19, Slurp mixes were developed as we all pivoted to backyard gatherings and zoom drinks with friends. There seemed to be a gap in the cocktail mix market for those looking for a more natural and fresh option. Slurp mixes are preservative and additive free and are sold refrigerated. Slurp makes enjoying a “clean”, premium cocktail at home a breeze!
VPL: How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey?
SS: My entrepreneurial journey really started out of necessity when I was living in Europe a few years back. I was keen to work again, as my children were older, but I didn’t speak the local language. I used my training as a Cordon Bleu cook and network from working as a Home Economist for British television to develop a cooking show called “UpRooted”. This 12 episode series followed my experience living and cooking in France through all four seasons of the year. It was partly because of this project that I felt the confidence to bring Slurp to Canada.
VPL: How did you first hear about our Concept to Market Sprint program and what made you want to join?
SS: I learned about program, as I was researching food start-ups in Ontario, and came across what was called District Ventures kitchen at the time. After reading the curriculum for the course I knew it was something I had to do in preparation for launching a food product. Each week of the 8-week program focused on a new and critical piece of information revolved around starting a business and the instructor was a fountain of knowledge. From the very detailed aspects like labeling requirements to the much more strategic pieces like figuring out what your key selling points are, this course covered it all.
VPL: Was there anything in particular that stuck with you post-program?
SS: My biggest takeaway from the program was that I am not alone and that there are many resources out there for food start-ups. In fact, I realized that there is a real community of third-party providers and entrepreneurs just waiting to help you succeed. Marlis, the program instructor, very generously shared a ton of resources I wouldn’t have found easily on my own and she was always quick to respond to my business questions.
VPL: What has Slurp been up to since you were last at the Park?
SS: My business has continued to grow in sales since the program and I am now exploring different options to scale production. Thanks to the program, I already know the right questions to ask potential co-packers and I know where to go to look for them. I have also solved one big issue, which was figuring out how to extend my product’s shelf life without altering my mix. I’ve discovered a high pressure pasteurization process that doesn’t change my recipe and does not heat the juice. It’s been a game changer for me. It was thanks to my early sessions with Marlis that I realized what a priority this issue was for my business.
VPL: Any advice for someone who is looking to launch their product to the market?
SS: Be prepared to wear many hats when you first start out! You will take on responsibilities for every piece of the business, from accounting to delivery. Clarify what is most important and understand where you should be spending your time. As you grow, you will need to outsource and get help on certain parts of the business. Having worn every hat, you know where your talents lie and what jobs can be done by others.
To shop Slurp Mixes, visit slurpmix.com To learn more about the Venturepark Labs Concept to Market Sprint program, head to https://www.ventureparklabs.ca/8-week-sprint. Registration opens December, 15, 2021.