Episode 13: Taking a business from startup to grown up


All Xero In episodes

Hosted by Jeanne-Vida Douglas and Rob Stone

When you’re taking a business from startup to grown up, there’s a lot of processes and moving parts to consider. So how do you grow successfully at the same time as retaining some level of control? And how do you implement large scale processes to streamline your workload and keep your business moving forward?

This week Rob and JV are joined by Declan Lee, co-founder and facilitator of stuff at Gelato Messina. Declan shares insights about implementing new processes, growing from a startup to grown up, and how technology and cloud accounting have changed the face of gelato in Australia.

“We make gelato. It’s really what we do in the end and it’s the one thing that we’re really really good at. I like businesses that don’t try and be everything,” he said. “Even at that high level we’ll bring in people that we just think are really good people, have some skill in the area, and then we try and work it out together.”

Small business resources:

Why use accounting software for your retail business? – Xero Small Business Guide

The bumpy truth of startup growth – fastcompany.com

Episode transcript

Hosts: Jeanne-Vida Douglas [JVD] and Rob Stone [RS]
Guest: Declan Lee [DL]

JVD: Welcome back to Xero In, I'm JV Douglas and I'm here with Rob Stone.

RS: Hi JV.

JVD: How's it going?

RS: Hungry.

JVD: You're hungry?

RS: We have an amazing interview with Declan Lee from Messina. Are you a lover of the ice cream?

JVD: I am a connoisseur of ice cream to a certain degree. What I love is finding new flavours.

RS: How about frozen yogurt?

JVD: Yes. I'm going to end up telling about other brands though, that's the problem.

RS: Well there's very few other brands that we know of that will actually deliver ice cream to your door now like Messina.

JVD: I know, yeah. Imagine hand-delivered ice cream, you'd never have to leave the house again. Although that sort of... It's almost like a pilgrimage, it's a late night, after dinner pilgrimage to the local ice cream parlours, so you'd miss out on that.

RS: It must be doing something right given the lines that are out...

JVD: I know, it's incredible.

RS: The door.

JVD: Actually, when I first saw it, I thought it was a nightclub. Dead set because it was late in the evening and there was this huge line and it's kind of red-lit on the inside. I hadn't come across Gelato Messina at all before and there're all these well-dressed, young people.

RS: Well, maybe that could be a new flavour, disco ice cream.

JVD: Now see, the really interesting thing about Declan is that he's now associated with the Gelato Messina brand and that's been an incredible success, but prior to that he was also associated with the Ministry of Sound, and he from nothing, built this huge music festival. So, he's obviously got the runs on the board in terms of ... Not only having a great idea, which let's face it, we've all got a great idea, but creating momentum around it and creating the processes that make it successful.

RS: And it's incredible the skills and the you take from one enterprise and bring it across and, so he built an incredible community with the Ministry of Sound and now he's built an amazing advocacy and an authentic community around Gelato.

JVD: Absolutely, and around amazing flavours of gelato. It's having that great product that they really invest a lot in and a lot in developing, but also that capacity to communicate with your customers and that love of customers, so.

RS: Can't wait. Let's jump over to Declan.



JVD: You know, if you've got questions following any of these shows, you can find us on Twitter at Xero In and you can use the hashtag #XeroIn to ask us anything you'd like. We'll answer it on the show.



RS: So Declan to start off with, do you want to just run through your amazing career to date and

DL: [Laughs] My amazing career!

RS: What you’ve done – you’ve done so much. you moved into the Ministry of Sound and you know helping build that in Australia and…

DL: Yeah, yeah, look that was a great opportunity to do with a friend of mine, Tim, who had been asked to set it up out here so the two of us kind of got the ball rolling across every part of that business. Which is really good because it puts you in great stead for anything really, when you start a new business and you have to handle every single bit of it you learn to do everything from accounts, to postering polls, to the nitty gritty of a business.

JVD: So tell me I mean there are lots of people who grew up through the 90s and enjoyed the music scene. How do you get from being involved in parties as kind of one-off events to actually creating a building a company around events that has processes and that – that has momentum?

DL: We built it from scratch. So there were no rules. You know, we were partying in standard warehouses in the early 90s and then it turned into a legitimate business. So you made it up as you went along and you learnt to be businessmen, when you build something from scratch you learn every aspect of the business, you learnt how to – to generate this tribe of people around you that were into the same thing. And then along the way you also learn about accounting and cash flow and that sort of stuff, which was never the first thing that you needed to know. It was far from your mind.

RS: And there must have been a lot of learnings from that…So experimenting you know it’s the first time you’ve really been in a business.

DL: Huge amounts of learning.

RS: What were some of the key things that you took away from it, that you know, you brought into your subsequent ventures?

DL: Look, it – it is literally across the board. I mean it’s – I have this real philosophy that whenever someone works for me even in the Gelato world, that’s my marketing team, or people that work in operations, you have to go and do some shifts in the store. You have to stand at the coalface and know exactly what it is that you’re selling and what sort of people are buying it and what their attitude is towards your product. For me understanding every little bit of the business including, you know, your drivers and, you know, the – the even the dishies you know, that do the job in the factory – all the guys, the cleaners. If you don’t really know what you do, you don’t really know the business back to front and I think it’s important to know that stuff. But I think that those early days taught me – I didn’t know anything about accounting, cash flows and that sort of stuff and I learnt very quickly in that world that, you know, if you don’t keep your eye on the numbers, your business, no matter how great the idea is, is going to go down the toilet.

JVD: How much luck was involved, and how much was it actually, I guess, strategic or – or planned?

DL: Look I don’t think you – you need a – you definitely need a bit of luck and that you know, I think even research shows that the most important thing in any good idea is timing. You could roll out a really good idea at the wrong time and you won’t have anywhere near the same success as someone that rolls it out at the right time. I would prefer to say timing is more important than luck and that part of it is extremely important and for example we were – we were kind of leaders I suppose in that time, in the early 90s when – when the – the idea of dance parties had only just – just begun and we turned it into a business. So we lucky to be in the right time and in the right environment to become those sorts of businesses I suppose.

RS: And what – what was the catalyst to then move from, you know, a very strong and iconic industry to – into food. I mean, you know, you opened up a – A Tavola?

DL: Yeah, A Tavola, yeah. Again, it wasn’t a serial progression as in one thing ended and another thing started, I was still doing music events and I was a partner in a couple of restaurants, just as a silent partner that kind of had my two cents worth in terms of marketing every now and then. And that’s how I met Nick and Danny who are two – two of my current partners, they’re brothers and Donato, who’s also our head chef at Messina, he was our head chef at A Tavola. So it was just this really organic, you know, we met each other, we enjoyed being in business with each other and then the truth is that when I left the music industry in around about kind of 2009, when I left full time, the truth is I lost everything. I lost everything and I was, you know, wandering around aimlessly and the boys here were – we still only had one store there and I was still in business with them and I was just doing a bit of social media and bits and pieces for them and I saw something in this business, in terms of a brand and I saw that there was going to be a shift, I suppose, into social media for food brands. And that’s kind of how I became involved in this business and became a partner in the business.

JVD: Tell me about failure though. Having been quite successful hit the wall, pick yourself up again, and keep on going. Because so many business people face that and go through that and don’t actually get up again. Where did you get those internal, I guess, that internal strength from?

DL: Look, it’s really hard and it sounds a bit clichéd but it’s an entrepreneurial thing. You get to this point where you spend your life working out how to make money. Through concepts or ideas rather than working for someone else. And that’s – it was probably more the fear of going to work for someone else.

JVD: [Laughs]

RS: [Laughs]

DL: And I dare say quite a few entrepreneurs would say the same thing. For me the thought of working for someone else was just not an option. So for me it wasn’t too hard just getting back on my feet and going for it because from there I had no other choice.

RS: You’re working with partners, so you know, you’re not working for someone but then it must have its own challenges then, how do you come a decision…

JVD: Who does what? Yeah, who owns what, that’s the…

RS: You know, you’ve got so many strengths…

DL: Yeah.

RS: Like do you need to come to a consensus each time. Like how – how do you make it work?

DL: Yeah, look it’s – you know, that’s a really valid and interesting point because I think a lot of business relationships fall apart for that reason. People come together and they’re either mates, or they come together because of skillsets but they don’t get together. And I’ve had – I’ve certainly had that in – in my time and the really nice thing about what happened with Messina was when we all came together, we’ve over time – look, we have our challenges, we don’t always all get on and, we all have arguments and stuff every now and then but when it really comes down to it, we really respect what each other has – the job that all of us have fallen into. So for example, Nick who started Messina back in the day, his – his expertise is really gelato science. He’s not a chef per se, but his knowledge of the science that goes into gelato balancing sugars and all that sort of stuff is like no other person I’ve ever met in the world and he has an acute sense of taste. Donato came over as the head chef, his background is as a chef. So his skill is applying that to the art of making gelato, so he applies that to the science that Nick brings to the party and Nick’s brother Danny is an operations guy who’s much – very much a people person. So he spends a lot of his time trying to work out how we get the right people because we don’t hire people that we think have – necessarily have amazing skills or can bring in operational knowledge. We hire people because they’re good people and we think they’re – they’re just either smart, they’ve got a good heart, they’re our people. And my background is that marketing brand kind of thing which I had to learn doing music festivals because you don’t have any other vehicles. You don’t do, you know, TV ads, all that sort of stuff. You had to work out how to build these tribes of people that were brand advocates. And so the four of us have these skill sets that overlap a little bit, and we’ll consult each other about stuff. I get – still get consulted about flavours and how we make things and I know a lot more about gelato than I used to. And often tell these guys about brand stuff, you know, when they’re big decisions and I’m – I’m going to partner with someone and we get – you know, we say do we want to do this? And everyone says, yeah, look I think it’s a great idea we’ll take your lead on it. But in the end you trust each other implicitly that even if I’m – am not consulted about a decision, I know that generally speaking, even if it’s the wrong decision, I’m kind of happy for them to make that decision. And if you don’t have that trust in partners, then it becomes very suspicious and it becomes very, “I can do that job better than he can”, “why is he even get paid the same amount of money as me”. Or that sort of stuff. Whereas we don’t have that issue at all.

RS: Is there something on top of trust and respect, because I can understand different processes matching different skill sets. But when it comes to say capital allocation, for instance rolling out new stores, you know, loans…

JVD: I guess when there’s risk involved.

RS: Yeah, when there’s risk that affects everyone. You know what – what else are you guys bringing into, I don’t know, say if there’s a tiebreaker or, you know, how do you – how do you work that out. How do you decide?

DL: We – I mean we have a – we have our ownership in place in terms of what our shareholdings are and we just, you know, it’s just there on the table. That’s what you own and that’s the money you put in. We don’t borrow money, we’re not financed by anyone and it’s a really nice way to do it, because if we don’t have the money we don’t grow. We’re completely company owned. We don’t have this, you know, thing on our back of – of – of guys with a spreadsheet saying “You have to open more stores, you need growth”. We don’t care, we have a business model where if we find the right partner in another city for example, we would rather make someone part of the business and know that they’re with us and on the same page as us than think that we can own everything and have to find people that are motivated just to work for us.

RS: That makes it incredibly authentic. Legally do you bring them in via an agency agreement or franchise or how do you…

DL: No, we’re not a franchise. We don’t work like that. We simply bring them as a partner in the business. And each store is a different business. And how that transpires over time when we grow to a bigger sized business, we’re not sure, but at the moment it works for us. And we have a really simple agreement, like an exit clause if – if they’re not happy with it and it’s very generous as well. So usually when they come in, they can see that we’re really serious about how we get them in the business because they can see what – if they choose to leave, how we would pay them out, you know, and like I said it’s generous, so…

JVD: Well what I find fascinating about this too, is that this – this kind of growing within – understanding your constraints and growing without borrowing money and things like that. It kind of is reflected also in your approach to marketing and you’re not. I mean, you could have, way back in Ministry of Sound days, you could have in – in Messina days, I guess, succumb to the pressure of – of bringing in an advertising agency and creating beautiful ads and putting them on outdoor and putting them on TV. But you don’t go like that; that’s not the way you approach things.

DL: No, definitely not.

JVD: What did you learn in the 90s and how has that – how have you carried that on through the restaurants and – and the gelato business that you’re – you’re currently involved in?

DL: Yeah.

RS: And refined those learnings?

JVD: Yeah, yeah.

DL: Yeah, look I think it’s – it’s a bit of an overused term at the moment but it’s about authenticity. And I firmly believe – I’ve had a lot of experience with PR companies and publicity companies. And I must admit I’ve never come out of one of those relationships thinking that they’ve done a better job than I could have done myself. They might have had better contacts, but if you – if you want to project a tone of voice or a philosophy, a band vision per se, that we know comes from us. You know, and it might be our sense of humour, it might be how we produce the food and how – what the quality of the food is and how we – how we do everything; it has to come from us. And people see right through a bullshit story that’s written by a publicity company for a brand who couldn’t be bothered doing it themselves or they don’t really know how to do it, they just know they want to look authentic but they’re getting someone else to write it. So from my point of view, I would rather hire people within company that are on the same page as us and write the stories, and write the copy for flavours. Come up with the names for flavours, write the puns, you know, have the same sense of humour that we do because the brand vision or the brand philosophy, I suppose comes from the four of us and the people that we’re surrounded by. And I think – I think that that comes across…That this brand that is Gelato Messina is almost like an individual, you know, like – you know how good businesses, often the restaurant will have a head chef and they’re a – that’s the brand of that restaurant. We don’t like really – we’ll do interviews like this and Nick will be master chef and someone will be something, but I don’t know if you notice, there’s not one of us that is like this, you know, this key person of influence across this business. We like to think of Gelato Messina as that thing and that brand. And it’s almost like Gelato Messina is your friend. You know? He puts a smile on – or she puts a smile on your face when you see it and you’re always happy to see them, it’s a good time. It’s that kind of vibe and that tone of voice is really important to us and I don’t think you can get that if you use an agency quite simply.

RS: And – you’ve – you’ve mentioned before that one – like, if you could distil down Messina, yeah it’s friendship, it’s being authentic, but more than anything else it’s about honesty.

DL: Yeah, absolutely.

RS: As well, your core – core value. Could you just share a story or an experience where that’s been put to test and you’ve had to, you know, make a hard choice to follow, follow that core value.

DL: One thing that comes to mind, we – we did an event at this Sydney festival where we did this carnival food, basically all made out of ice-cream. Gelato hot dogs. Gelato [Pluto] Pops and all this sort of stuff. And one of the things that we made was this ice-cream that was made of a yuzu sorbet – yuzu is a Japanese citrus. It tastes a lot like mandarin. We made this ice-cream, it was covered in chocolate and we flung it around in this fairy floss machine, it was for kids. We had the first night at the event and everything pretty much sold out. And the next day we were scrambling to make enough of each item for this event and we went down to the event and there was me, Donato and Nick and Donato’s the head chef. He didn’t tell us that what he had done was he had substituted mandarin sorbet for the yuzu. Now I can tell you now, that 99% of people never pick the difference, right? They are very, very similar, especially in the sorbet. We sat down, Nick tried it, Nick has an insane, insane sensibility when it comes to taste. He sat down and had a bite and he just started giggling and he turned to Donato and he said, “That’s mandarin, mate”.


DL: And Donato started laughing and we all knew that the reason that Donato had done that, was not to try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. But he didn’t want to disappoint us in the sense that he didn’t want to not be able to come up with the stock. So in his mind, it wasn’t oh, I’m going – don’t worry about the people, we’ll just make whatever, he just went – I’m pretty sure no-one will notice, we’ll do it for one day, we’ll get it out there, we’ll have the product and we’ll put it out and they’ll be none the wiser, everyone will be happy. And we all looked at each and we went, “Nah, nah, we can’t do it”. So we threw out the stock we didn’t have that item on for the day and we made new stock the next day. And for me that’s a really good…

RS: Wow.

DL: …story about how meticulous we are with things. Like we could have kept them and we could have put it out and I guarantee you no-one would even notice but for us, it was telling a lie and if you tell that lie and one person finds you out, your relationship with them; it’s like having a friend right? That you’ve trusted for years and years and they tell you a big lie and you start questioning everything that they’ve ever told you because you don’t know if anything they’ve told you is the truth. Right? So for us this is a really good example of that. We went, no-one’s going to know, but if someone does and pulls us up on it, we don’t want to be the friend that lied to you. So…

RS: I really respect that. I mean you’re honest with each other and, you know…

JVD: And you’re honest with your customers too, that’s a…

DL: Yeah, yeah.

JVD: You know, we talk to a lot of senior marketers at – at sort of very large companies and global companies and things like that and what they’re often struggling with when it comes to social media is that they’re suddenly smacked up against this realisation that they don’t own their brand, that their customers own their brand. And what – what you’re talking about is that it’s not that your customers own your brand, it’s that the customers have a relationship with you and that you are part of them You, you – you guys still own it though. Like you – you still determine who you are and how you’re presented and – and what your ethics are. Can you kind of tease that out a bit about. …about who you are and who owns who you are.

DL: Yeah, well look, it’s exactly – it’s exactly that, you know. If – if – it’s like having a – a – you know, a relationship with a friend in that you – if you don’t treat them well and treat them with respect, they’re not going to treat you well. And I think sometimes brands see those two things quite separately whereas we – we want our customers to be brand advocates and we want to treat them right. Our gelato might be the best in the world, but if you don’t get good service with it and you don’t get, you know, a good experience, then for us the job’s kind of half done. Now that’s not to say that every single experience in our shops as we grow, you know, we get complaints just like anyone does, but when we do get complaints, for example, you know what, come back have another scoop, we’ll replace something and it goes a long way with people, it goes a long way. But by the same token, if someone does something and slays us on social media and are, you know, they’re horrible or they’re racist, or they’re condescending or whatever toward our staff, we’ll also defend them. And for me, you get respect from people for defending your people instead of saying just yes all the time as well. And I think that that whole story is really important for people to feel like the brand is human. And when you make mistakes you fix them. If someone complains about something and it’s not true, you defend yourself. It’s the same – same as in real life, you know.

JVD: So it really is like a – like a friendship, you know…

DL: Totally.

JVD: …you don’t give yourself over, you don’t give your brand over to your customers, you are in a relationship with them effectively.

RS: With boundaries.

JVD: Yeah [laughs]

DL: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re just good friends. I don’t understand how you could not do that. That’s the thing for me, but I’ve never been in a big corporate kind of company where the brand is established and then social media come about. Our – our brand has been established through, very much, through social media from the early days. So we’ve always nourished that relationship.

JVD: So given how – how passionate you are about the companies that you create. How do you identify the processes that you can, automate or – or send into the cloud or, you know, what I mean how do you identify something that – that you can get maybe someone else to do and how do you identify what you need to hold onto and to continue to, I guess, express and have actually a direct – direct input into?

DL: Mm, yeah. I – that’s kind of a hard one to answer. I have always been fairly interested in technology I suppose. And I – you know, these kind of archaic, you know, we use a cloud based point of sale. We use a cloud based rostering and time in attendance app. We use cloud-based accounting obviously, we use all of this stuff that to me, I just like people – I like, you know, look a really good parallel is we make gelato. It’s really what we do in the – in the end. We do some crazy stuff but in the end we make gelato and it’s the one thing that we’re really really good at. I like businesses that don’t try and be everything, you know? You look at a company and they just do, you know, it might be Deputy. They go, you know what we do time and attendance and rostering and we’re going to concentrate on that. We’re not going to make POS system we’re not going to do accounting because if you try and do everything something’s going to fail and it’s going to make the whole picture look bad. I just love that idea that with, you know, open APIs and so forth that all these businesses can concentrate on what they do well and if they need a solution for a business that requires accounting, or whatever it might be, they can actually go off and go, well, why don’t we integrate with these guys? They’re – they’re the best in their game as well and off they go. So for me, it’s not really – it’s not a difficult thing because I’m just kind of into it, I suppose.

JVD: Is it like understanding the difference between passion and process? Like you look at something and you go, is this something I need to be passionate about or is a process that – that can be created?

DL: Oh, I don’t really know the answer to that question.

JVD: [Laughs]

DL: I like the idea of sticking with being – I don’t like having servers on site and thinking I need to update them and so forth. I like the idea of someone continually pushing to improve themselves and innovate. It’s what we do in our business, so why shouldn’t, you know, a software company be doing it ongoing and when they fix something or make it better then they update it for you and it seamlessly happens in the backend and all we see is that extra button or an extra feature. Like it’s kind of how it should be, everyone should be innovating like that so… Yeah, I don’t know if that answers your question, but it’s definitely how I think about these things.

RS: That’s fantastic and you know, to draw a very poor analogy, in many ways you guys coming together, you’ve all got your specific skill sets, you’re both all sticking with your knitting and you’re almost having like an open API with your partnership. You know…

DL: Yeah.

RS: …sticking with each other seamlessly and getting a great innovation, and a great result. Hey can I ask a similar question around process, but from a different angle. Moving from startup to – to a grown up company with – with Messina. The key thing for retail is putting in processes so that you can step out of it and it will provide consistency and it will be ongoing. What have you learnt, in Messina, about the key processes that you’ve had to put in place that you think are, you know, are critical and, you know, yep, any wisdom that’s come – come out of that?

DL: Look it’s – it’s really important and it’s, you know, we’re continuing to learn as we go along and make it up and one of the things that we don’t really do a lot of around here is – you know a lot of companies would go, okay, we’re growing we’ve got to go and find the best ops guy and they’ll go to a – you know, a big chain and go, ah we need the, you know, TED of operations and he’s going to come in here and teach us how to do everything. We don’t really do that. We – we – even at that high level we’ll bring in people that we just think are really good people, have some skill in the area, and then we try and work it out together. And there’s a lot of parts of our business that are inefficient. You know, the way we make our product, the way that we – if you put our business on paper, no-one would, you know and you took it to investors, everyone would think you’re crazy because it just doesn’t – a lot of it doesn’t make any sense at all. But it makes sense for us because we want to maintain this process of for example, we don’t ever want to – want to not make the ice-cream in store. So we pasteurise, make all of the additions that we bake at the factory, you know, the branding and all that sort of stuff, we bag it up and then it goes to the stores and they churn the product fresh on site. That’s a very important part for us. The freshness as well as the theatre. Now, really we could probably take that process make the ice-cream and send it off but it doesn’t – for us, it’s not – it’s not important. We’d rather make it more complicated but know that that’s going to happen. Whereas if you had a bunch of investors in private equity come in and say where can we cut costs? They would probably say this is the best way for you to do it. So it’s again, it’s one of those things that we have this luxury in that it’s our business and therefore we make the decisions you know.

RS: And what about some processes around marketing and social media. Have you put things in place there?

DL: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we – we – you know, in the early days we started and, you know, it was me, you know, hovering over Facebook and answering stuff and you know, now – now obviously you need a platform to manage multiple plat – social platforms. so we use all sorts of, you know, software, you know, Sprout Social and bits and pieces where we can manage multiple pages. We also but again, you know, we have a process where I have a marketing, a little marketing team. It’s not many, there’s three of us, but I’ve got a brand and content manager and I’ve got a social media manager who’s also a content producer. So we can produce our own content. Because we need to be timely and quick in the way that produce stuff and for me to come up with ideas and then go to an agency and say I want to roll this out, the thing would be too slow and you’ve lost your moment in time especially if it relates to pop culture or something and if – you know, I’ve done talks at different businesses and they ask me these questions all the time and one of the things about what we do that I think is key to our business is that we’re really nimble. We make everything from scratch. So if I come up with an idea for a pop culture related thing, you know there’s something in the news and we want to make a flavour, we can rollout the idea, the artwork, the information and make the flavour and it can be ready in a day across the nation. If you know what I mean? Now, that will change as we get bigger, I’m sure, but at the moment we can continue to make that. So for me the process is to bring everything in house and be able to be really nimble on our feet.

JVD: Well, Declan, listen thank you so much for joining us here at Xero In because I think you’ve talked us through passion and processes and – and just given us a lot of really interesting insight and – about the – the way you’ve grown businesses. Can we just ask finally, though, as we’re – as we’re kind of cutting out, what – do you have a favourite gelato flavour and what’s it been?

DL:   Not really, we – we make so many things. I’m – I mean you know, our biggest selling flavour is salted caramel white chocolate and there’s a good reason, it’s pretty amazing.

RS:   It is.

DL: The tiramisu is – that we make is incredible because of the way that we make it. It – you know, it literally is a – a – ice-cream version of the desert. You know, it’s not a flavoured thing, we make it, you know, express the coffee, the whole bit. But, you know, I’m sucker for pavlova as well. Look we – we do – we do five specials a week but two or three which are new every week, so we’ve got this back catalogue of like 3,000 flavours or something.

DL: Yeah, so…

RS: Yum.

DL: … I never get bored of it. I really never get bored of it. You know, I took some ice-cream home to my – my family the other night and my son is into sorbets and I took some strawberry and I literally haven’t eat for about two years and I had a tiny bit of it and I went wow, that’s amazing. So, you know, it’s all good thankfully.

RS: Oh we love it – we love the product.

DL: Great.

RS: And, if you were going to personify flavours, hypothetically how would you describe in terms of flavours the personalities of yourself and your – and your partners.

DL: [Laughs] That’s a really difficult one as well. You know, when we get asked about desert island flavours, you know, Nick is very traditional, so I’m sure he would say tiramisu. Danny is a massive biscuit head, he just loves bickies…

RS: [Laughs]

JVD: [Laughs]

DL: So anything with chunks in it, is definitely his bag. I’m not really sure about Donny, he’s a bit tiramisu man as well. Like the three of them, I’m the only one that’s not actually Italian. So the three of them go for quite traditional flavours and I, look I – my – probably actually one of the favourite flavours I have is pandan and coconut. It’s, you know, it’s just absolutely incredible for a non-dairy sort of product. So I – I would have to be that guy and I’m half Asian so I’d have to…

JVD: [Laughs] Bringing it in.

DL: …pandan and coconut is probably me.

JVD: Awesome.

RS: Great, thanks Declan.

DL: That’s all right.

JVD: Listen, thank you so much for joining us.

DL: It’s a pleasure thanks for having me.

RS: Cheers.

JVD: Cheers.

RS: Yeah, and thanks so much for support of Xero as well, because I know, you know, you’ve…

DL: Do you know what? It’s like people always ask me, “do you get paid for that”, and I’m going “no I didn’t”, guys, do you know what? It’s just – it’s a great product. I actually love it. So I would never do it if I didn’t like it no matter how much money people paid me. So, yeah, it’s really good. You have, you make a good product, people will like it and they’ll talk about it, that’s what happened with Messina, you know?

DL: I think you will. All right guys.

JVD: Talk to you later.

RS: Thanks so much Declan, bye.

JVD: Thanks for your time.

DL: Bye, bye.

JVD: Bye.



JV:   If you like what you've heard here today, please find us on iTunes and subscribe. There's a lot more shows, there's a lot more fascinating interviews, and we'd love you to come along.



RS: Well, I don't know about you J.V., but I am hankering for some ice cream.

JV: How could you not be after that? I'm also really intrigued though about, I guess that relationship that he's got with his customers and about the fact that it's really authentic. When he was talking about creating ice cream flavours for customers that love the product, he was so genuine.

RS: And that's the heart of this great business, is having an authentic brand. And being 100% committed to the consumers.

JV: If your product is excellent and if your communication, your processes are in place, then you don't get stuck discounting, which is ultimately what destroys so many businesses, because eats into your cash flow.

RS: Yep. Couldn't have said it better myself J.V.

JV: Excellent, Let's go get some ice cream.

RS: Sounds good.

JV: Thanks for listening


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