Inspired by the legend of Vikings foraging on the North East coast cliffs for Rhodiola Rosea, Dunnet Bay Distillers was founded in 2013 by Martin and Claire Murray, and in the summer of 2014 they plan to bring to market their unique new botanical flavored spirit - Rock Rose Gin.
Martin is currently employed as a consultant in the oil and gas industry, with distilling proving to be a new and unchartered adventure for him and wife Claire. Upon joining Business Mentoring Scotland, Martin and Claire sought a mentor with experience of the food and drink industry and also good knowledge and experience of the finance issues that start up and growing businesses can face. In August 2013, James Knowles became Martin and Claire’s mentor, bring his widespread skills and experience gained over a 40+ year career spent mainly in the public sector in economic development, including acting as a founding member of Grampian Food Forum, and contributing to other agriculture and food & drink related groups and committees. Martin is unequivocal in his support for Business Mentoring Scotland, and as he spoke with Scottish Chambers of Commerce, he explained in detail the huge impact Jim’s mentoring has had on Dunnet Bay Distillers:
Why did you join Business Mentoring Scotland?
“We were looking for an experienced head to give some views and ideas on the business, drawing on industry and business knowledge.”
Were there any specific business issues you wanted to address?
“We had some specific ideas on areas where we wanted to tap into knowledge of how the industry operates internationally, such as finding the right price point for our product, design and branding considerations, networking and finance.”
How did the mentoring relationship work?
“Our mentor Jim lives far away but that was never an issue. He came to visit our site and see what we were doing and we just clicked immediately. Jim has always made himself available which is marvellous and it is not an impersonal relationship; we have become friends which has made it so easy to share things and get honest feedback and ideas.”
“Jim was exactly what we were looking for and exactly what we needed – the right person at the right time, he was passionate yet not too intense.”
What has been the impact of mentoring?
“I cannot express in words how good this has been for me and the business. It is fantastic. Jim has been full of ideas which he has shared with us, asking fundamental questions on things that seem obvious now but that we didn’t notice or think about in the same way, as we are so close to the day to day business. It has been so helpful to us.
“Jim’s input has had a direct impact in certain areas such as branding and marketing. For example, we focused on our Facebook page to create a buzz around our first product and the concept; this had 6,000 views and gave us great contacts for sales. This exposure means we are on track to sell our entire first run of product without advertising. The article about our Rock Rose Gin has been read in over 20 countries so far.”
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the input of our mentor, we are definitely in a better place. We expect to be ahead of the business plan targets on employment and sales, at least double our target.”
Have you had any other forms of assistance?
“We had some assistance from HIE and SMAS which was great on specific areas. We are looking to develop the H.I.E relationship as we move into exporting in year 2 of the business and look to engage with international distributors. This doesn’t replace mentoring which we see as invaluable.”
Would you recommend Business Mentoring Scotland to other businesses?
“Start-up is an important stage for accessing a mentor as we face many challenges in managing relationships and dealing with so many different issues that pop up. These can’t all be predicted in pre start-up phase. Mentoring also has a place for growing business as we face so many different challenges that change as we grow.”
“Mentoring has been absolutely invaluable, it’s been the best thing that we’ve done.”