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Business outlook: Small business leaders reveal trends and predictions


Real Business showcases small businesses that have exemplified innovation in 2020 on their outlook for the year ahead.

Please use the list below to flip through each business story.

Jelly Drops

Lewis Hornby

Founder, Jelly Drops

Company overview: Jelly Drops is a London startup that has created a product to help people boost their water intake. Jelly Drops are sweets made from 95% water, and are sugar-free, vegan and created in six delicious natural flavours. Originally created for people with dementia or those wanting a water boost, the bite-sized sweets come in six bright colours to attract attention and a teardrop shape that makes them easy to pick up. Jelly Drops also empowers elderly and those with dementia to feed themselves independently throughout the day as well as promotes enjoyable interactions between carers, family members and residents. There are no laxative effects and the product is vegan.

Company location: Hackney, London

What have been key challenges for your sector in 2020″

  • Challenge 1: Keeping production facilities going at the required pace, while making it covid secure and without jeopardising employee satisfaction. We have had to rethink every aspect of operations, and for every step along the way it’s been important to make all members of staff stay updated and understand the ‘why’, not just the ‘what’.
  • Challenge 2: Staying at the forefront of innovation while working remotely. We have been scaling during lockdown, and had to grow a team of experts on a distance, setting up development labs in people’s kitchens etc. Also, not being able to visit suppliers/factories/partners slows everything down and makes it tempting to go for the easy option, instead of the right one. We’ve also had to develop alternative mechanisms to gain customer insights, as usually, we would have been out in care homes interacting directly with residents and carers.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned as a business this year”

  • Lesson 1: Keep your experts closer! (Quality over quantity – invest in close relationships). We are very fortunate to have been able to attract people at the top of their field, early on. Having a clear company mission – helping people with dementia, has allowed us to be selective and align with experts who are genuinely excited about what we do. Inviting them to be part of the bigger picture and having closer relationships, has allowed us to develop our product more efficiently and ultimately getting it to the people who need it sooner.
  • Lesson 2: Keeping it in house has great benefits! Due to the uniqueness of our product we had to take our production in house. This was not the initial plan and it felt like a big undertaking. We were able to build our own production facility in 6 months and while it was a challenge to set up, it means now that we can be responsive to both our customers’ feedback and the market changes, which made us very resilient during the pandemic. Currently, our NPD-lab is just a few doors from the actual factory. Next year we plan to scale and one of the main challenges will be how to keep facilitating this level of collaboration, when we grow.

What are your predictions for your sector in 2021 and beyond

  • Prediction 1: If there is one thing we’ve learnt, it’s that predictions can only take you so far. We never expected to launch in the middle of a pandemic. Given that 2020 presented so many uncertainties, I think we will see startups find different ways to spread the risk and stay relevant to a wider audience – develop their brands and online presence etc.
  • Prediction 2: I think we will see more innovation with a social purpose. This year has reminded us what’s really important in life and hopefully we will see that more of the incredible competence and resources within the sector will be used towards launching initiatives with a positive footprint.

What are your new year’s resolutions?

See more of my family, not via Zoom that is.



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