“The contribution of migrant entrepreneurs is, to be frank, breathtaking.” These words of counsel from Matt Smith, the Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, were meant to encourage the government to leave the flow of entrepreneurs from elsewhere as lightly restricted as possible. With 14.5% of the nation’s companies launched by immigrants, companies that have created 1.1 million jobs with those founded by immigrants from the EU contributing £60 billion to the UK economy, it appears wise for the government to heed Mr. Smith.
For a case study, the government should look to the UK’s youngest drinks entrepreneuses, Joyce and Raissa de Haas, a pair of twins born in Holland that arrived in the UK to study and have stayed to follow their dreams of starting a company. And what a bright idea they have had: to make artisanal, all-natural sodas and mixers for the booming craft spirits movement.
Like so many bright ideas, Double Dutch began modestly at home as the twins made juices and mixers in their kitchen to bring to house parties in Antwerp. When they moved to London to study for a Masters degree in Technology and Entrepreneurship at University College London, they turned their bright idea into an actual Bright Idea winning business. Every year, UCL holds the Bright Idea Awards, a Dragon’s Den-style competition for aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to a panel of angel investors and business men and women. Despite the absence of the technology aspect of their degree, the twins won the panel over, taking home the 2014 award and the accompanying cash prize, enough cash to put their idea into action. Upon finishing their studies in September 2014, Joyce and Raissa launched Double Dutch Drinks.
With all of their market research done, they moved immediately into prototyping, analysing different flavour compounds in different ingredients, learning food pairing techniques, speaking with mixologists and testing their recipes with over 120 different types of gins as well as brands of rums, tequilas and vodkas. After several months of testing, they completed the recipe for their first two flavours – Cucumber & Watermelon and Pomegranate & Basil – and produced their first batch in February of 2015.
Since then, their growth has been astronomical. Their drinks are now featured in some 50-odd venues in London from Michelin star restaurants such as Corrigan’s Mayfair and Galvin at Windows to posh hotels like the Dorchester and Sofitel as well as at Harvey Nichols. They are in the process of signing deals abroad in gin-loving countries such as Spain and have two more lines in the works to be released in the coming months.
With such success so quickly, if you’re a UK-based investor looking to invest in entrepreneurs from overseas, then we suggest you double down on Double Dutch.