“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for a different approach to soft drinks.” Ed Taylor’s passionate ambition remains as strong today as it was in 2013 when he and partner Robyn Simms first struck on the idea of Square Root: a pure soda made simply with fresh, seasonal produce.
Ed was working in a brewery at the time. Robyn was working at a craft beer bar in central London. On Sundays they ran a stall together at Haringey Market. “It came about just because we were looking for something to do – something extra,” Ed explains. “And what started to sell was the homemade ginger beer. And we thought, you know what, that might be something we should do more of.”
This was a time of explosive growth in the drinks industry with new breweries opening up rapidly and specialist bars offering literally hundreds of unique beers. But all too often the only soft drink options were cola and diet cola.
“We saw first-hand that there was an opportunity for more soft drinks in the market,” continues Ed. “So, we pooled resources. We borrowed some money. We took out a lease. We bought a small bottling line. And we got going.” Square Root grew organically from there for the next six years and in 2019 Ed and Robyn did their first round of equity investment. “We built a state-of-the-art production facility based in Leyton. Just two miles from our original site, just across the marshes. We built this facility to give us significant capacity for growth over subsequent years.”
And then an opportunity arose for Square Root, which required rapid access to funding. Ed elaborates: “We recognised that we urgently needed new, different packaging in order to serve a demand over the festive season. We had customers wanting to buy products from us that we couldn’t actually serve. And we were facing a really swift turnaround in a very short, intense period before Christmas and New Year. And also Dry January, which is quite a big occasion for us as a soft drinks company. We needed capital quickly in order to get packaging designed, manufactured and delivered in time.” This was where MaxCap came in.
“Our accountants looked at a few different options, but our broker knew that MaxCap would be able to provide funds in that tight time frame. After receiving our preparatory paperwork MaxCap called me directly just to talk through the use of funds and have a chat about what our vision was. We had that conversation and they made a decision by the next day. And that was it. Simple.”
Alex Littner, MaxCap’s CEO emphasises the importance of this swift, straightforward service: “Easy access to finance can be a crucial part of operating and growing a successful business. Our simple application process and quick decisions ensure you get the funds you need, fast! So that you – like Square Root – have the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities as soon they arise.”
Ed agrees wholeheartedly. “It was a very quick turn around and it was certainly useful for us at that phase in the business.”
Now the focus for Square Root is on building the brand. “We’ve grown our manufacturing side; we’ve increased the amount of capacity that we have to deliver drinks. And so we are essentially in the process of building our brand and building our sales and growing our market share within the soft drinks industry. And also changing the soft drinks industry,” Ed enthuses. “We are committed to making our product from whole fruit. We never use concentrate. And that shouldn’t be a really big point of difference in the soft drinks industry, but it is! We want a Square Root on every street. All our stockists are listed on our website, but there aren’t enough! There could be more,” laughs Ed.
And as for his personal favourite?
“Well, all our drinks look good and taste great. But my number one favourite – every time – is our lemonade. The secret recipe is lemons, sugar and water. I said I wouldn’t give you the secret recipe, but I have now! The lemonade is my favourite. It’s a classic. You can’t beat Sicilian lemons direct from the grower. And we’ve obviously been to see them in Sicily. We do like to meet our suppliers. It’s important to us. And it’s good to know where your fruit comes from. Because ultimately people use all sorts of rubbish to make drinks, and we don’t.”
Click here to find out more about Square Root.