Karma Cola is one of a kind: the world’s first ever range of great looking, great tasting, certified Fairtrade and organic fizzy drinks connecting drinkers directly with the people who grow the ingredients and benefit from the sale of each bottle. Karma Cola shows proves that by being ethical, a business can also be successful, currently generating $3.5 million in revenue.
The leadership team collectively provides over 60 years’ experience in brand and product development, innovation and food and beverages, with Chris Morrison who founded, grew and exited the successful organic drinks brand, Phoenix Organics, and Simon Coley, who has built new products and brands to successfully compete in international markets as Creative & Marketing Director for 42 Below Vodka, Powershop, All Good and others. Matt Morrison has held senior roles at Treasury with a range of responsibilities, from monitoring SOEs to leading complex funding projects at the Export Credit Office. Honing his leadership and logistics skills his time in the NZ Army saw him stationed as an officer in East Timor.
In a rapidly evolving market, Karma Cola has established itself as the ethical leader. The brand and fundamental foundation of the company is premium design, provenance and great taste from ethical, organic and Fairtrade supply chains.
All the Karma Cola drinks have been developed by searching for the highest quality of organic and ethical ingredients from all over the world. In 2014, the company was voted “Fairest Trader in the World” by Fairtrade Foundation. It has also been certified and endorsed from independent third parties, such as the Ethisphere Institute and the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation.
There is a great opportunity for market expansion outside of Australasia. Without actively looking for new markets, distributors in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Singapore, Japan and Korea have searched out the Karma Cola range and asked for samples, pricing and permission to sell the drinks to their customers.
The current focus is on the substantial UK market and within a year a launch Karma Cola secured ranging in Waitrose as well as a number of premium cafes and food to go operators.
Ant Howard, Director of Howard & Company, is the Chairman of the Karma Cola Board. He was appointed to lead the first round of the capital raise process aiming to support international market expansion. This first round’s objective was to raise a minimum of $2m.
To the Howard & Company team, the Karma Cola business was attractive because the premium quality of products is undisputable. Even more, because its business model is unique, sustainable, ethical and duplicable in overseas markets. The Karma Cola leadership team and Howard & Company share the same enthusiasm and values, leading to a successful association.
First step – A sound business structure
Karma Cola was part of a larger group called All Good Organics, offering drinks and Fairtrade bananas under the All Good brand. The banana business started before the drinks business and recently celebrated its five year anniversary.
As the capital raise was sought to support the drinks business it was essential to separate the bananas from the drinks business.
Implementing strong, scalable systems
Howard & Company assisted the Karma Cola team to implement strong financial systems and processes, introducing structure and discipline in the reporting and governance aspects of the business. Part of the challenge was to make sure accounts reflected perfectly the recent structural change and that the ambitious expansion plans were validated.
Taking Karma Cola to the next level
Howard and Company compiled an Information Memorandum and solicited interest from the investment market. In June 2015 Howard & Company successfully raised the required funds from New Zealand based investors who provide capital, key skills and networks to fuel and manage the expansion.
And what now?
Karma Cola is now in a position to develop sales internationally, and to keep demonstrating that an ethical, organic Fairtrade drinks business can flourish outside of Australasia.
As always, Ant Howard and his team take pride and satisfaction from seeing New Zealand business succeed on the international stage.