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6 Big Questions: Richard Reed, Innocent Drinks and JamJar Investments

The entrepreneur behind the international smoothie giant shares his views on industry trends and opportunities, why he's positive about 2014, and the start-ups that have got him excited

This week, we caught up with Richard Reed, co-founder of healthy smoothie brand Innocent Drinks.

Since selling almost all of their remaining shares in Innocent to Coca-Cola for an estimated £100m, Reed and co-founders Adam Balon and Jon Wright, have turned their hand to venture funding with JamJar.

Here, Reed shares his thoughts on the state of the country’s start-up community and life as an entrepreneur-turned-investor…

1. What are the UK start-ups that have got you most excited in the past 12 months?

Lexie certainly has [Reed invested in Lexie after founder Lily Rice appeared on Reed’s BBC Three programme Be Your Own Boss]. It’s a young fashion sportswear brand for women, set up by a woman who came first for her year at Central St Martins (University of the Arts, London) for Sportswear fashion design.

I also like Hailo, the Black Cab App, although I’m not sure how old it is.

2. What industry trends do you feel offer the greatest opportunity for start-ups in 2014 and beyond?

Anything that helps people live longer – it is the biggest consumer need of all! It might be food related, drink related, bio-tech, pretty much anything.

3. What about you. What are you up to post exit from Innocent and how is JamJar Investments going particularly?

JamJar is going brilliantly; we’ve got off to a flying start. We are always on the lookout for young entrepreneurs, working with a committed team on a big, transformational idea that might make the world a better place. They’re the three factors that we look for; we are up for anyone getting in touch if they satisfy these criteria. We’ve made several investments so far and are looking to do lots more.

4. You’ll be familiar with all the government initiatives to support small businesses. What’s the one you think is top of the class – and which do you feel ‘could do better’?

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) is absolutely awesome and makes a massive difference when looking for funding. It dramatically increases the likelihood of investors like me getting involved if the business in question is EIS qualified. We benefitted from it as entrepreneurs and now we are benefitting from it as an investor – it’s a really great initiative from both sides.

In terms of what could do better, I would like to see schools work harder to raise awareness around entrepreneurship as a career option. It’s not necessarily right for everyone, but students should at least be able to consider it

5. What makes you feel positive about 2014? And what should still hold fear for business owners?

I feel positive about 2014 because it is the best year in the evolution of the species to date. And there is nothing I feel negative about. Actually that’s not true. I’m worried that we are not going to do what needs to be done to tackle climate change.

6. How does taking to the trading floor compare to your life as an entrepreneur?

Well, it seems both easier to make money and easier to lose money – in trading.

Richard Reed gave this exclusive interview for Startups.co.uk when he appeared on the Cityindex.co.uk Celebrity Trader campaign.

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