Industry Stories — 22 July 2016

How To Set Up A Business In The Digital Era

Hugh Thomas is one of the two co-founders of Ugly Drinks. Six months ago he and a friend set out to disrupt the sugary drinks market by launching a new range of ‘unsweetened’ fizzy drinks. Now a team of 4 – operating out of a shipping container – Hugh tells us how the pair have created a modern digital business, selling “unsweet water” to retailers, armed with nothing but an iPad and a Dropbox subscription!

When we started Ugly Drinks we wanted a lean, cost-efficient start up with the agility to shrink or grow according to our good fortunes. This meant we didn’t even invest in a printer because quite honestly who needs them nowadays?

We do presentations on iPads and share documents through Dropbox. This means we can move around the country – and abroad – promoting and selling our product to retailers, with nothing but an internet connection. All our devices are constantly syncing, there’s no need to worry about backup and we can even track changes to ensure we are working from (and presenting) the most up-to-date files.

In fact, pretty much all of our business materials are saved on Dropbox, everything from legal documents and employment contracts to balance sheets and business plans. Having been a pre-cloud University graduate I know only too well the pain of losing hours/days of work following a hardware malfunction, or loss of an oversized laptop; an issue businesses nowadays just don’t have to contend with.

I can’t even imagine using hard drives now, they just seem so impractical. As if coming back from a sales meeting isn’t draining enough without having to spend hours updating notes, sharing content and sending large presentation files over email as follow up.

In fact, I reckon when it comes to sales and client follow up, the cloud saves us hundreds of hours a month, even as a small team. Everything is synced across devices and all content automatically saved from any location, device and operating system – easy as that.

The cloud has freed up our time to focus on what we got into business for in the first place; to get our unsweetened fizzy drinks stocked by leading UK retailers. And we must be doing something right – you can now find Ugly drinks on the shelves at your local Whole Food and Selfridges!

On our journey to the high street, the cloud has enabled us to make smart decisions for the business without the need to be tech wizards. As founders, neither of us are IT specialists, and the simple (and familiar) user interface of something like Dropbox means we can employ the best talent, without having to worry about their technical competencies.

While I appreciate there’s still some cloud cynics out there, we are living proof that relying on it saves man-hours, improves internal collaboration and just makes sense!

To read more about similar collaboration projects and find out how SmartCom:TV saved 70% of costs when moving to the cloud, click here.

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