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Richard Reed is an English Entrepreneur and venture capitalist who made a name for himself and quite a lot of money by co-founding a brand called Innocent Drinks. The company mostly sold fresh fruit smoothies and made a name for itself through a strategy called “wackaging”.
Richard Reed was born on 13 February, 1973 in Kirkheaton, West Yorkshire. He grew up in a place called Upper Hopton, Mirfied. He studied at Batley Grammar School and later went to St. John’s College in Cambridge where he studied Geography and graduated in 1994.
After finishing his studies, he started working as an account manager at an advertising agency. He would work here for around four years before his unique idea with two friends would leave him in a very different trajectory in life.
1998 was the year that Innocent Drinks started. Reed along with his friends from Cambridge, Adam Balon and Jon Wright came up with this idea of providing healthy fruit smoothies guaranteeing 100% pureness. It took six months for them to develop the product through rigorous testing.
Reflecting back on the initial days starting out, Reed recalls that all they had was one months worth of salary. With the cooperation of the group, they decided to take out a debt through their credit cards worth £15,000. Once in a festival, they even had a stall where they showcased their products and asked the customers if they should leave their jobs for making smoothies. They got a great response and hence got started to get to work.
The brand didn’t explode within a year. It took a couple of years for the company to actually notice some momentum in terms of their sales. Reed mentioned that it took another four years before they were earning around £40,000, which was their salaries in their previous job.
A major breakthrough came when they received an investment worth £250,000 from Maurice Pinto who was a wealthy businessman from America. Over the years the brand started growing. In 2007, McDonald’s decided to use their smoothies in their Happy Meals program. However, it didn’t stay the course as McDonald’s eventually decided to part ways in the partnership in 2012. Their business also faced risks of becoming bankrupt in 2008 when the financial crisis hit the world. That year, they had a loss of £8.6m.
The very next year, the founders were approached by the Coca-Cola Company which proposed buying a part of the company. A £30 million deal was made that year for a reported 18% stake in the company. In 2010, they increased their stake in the company to 58% for £65 million. Coca-Cola realized that this business could become a major part of its portfolio and eventually acquired a total of 90% stake in the company leaving the founders with a minority stake that is worth a lot of money. They became one of the biggest brands in Europe selling over 2 million smoothies every week.
Richard Reed Net Worth
As of 2018, Richard Reed’s net worth is estimated to be $60 million. Though we don’t know the exact details of Coca-Cola’s acquisition of Innocent Drinks, at the time of them buying the business, it was valued at $500 million. With payouts to his co-founders as well as his past investors, Reed definitely would have pocketed a healthy amount.
But, Reed is continually working on new projects and has now started to work as an investor being involved in several businesses. Some of the brands they’ve invested in, include Graze, Kano, and Gojimo.
Reed is heavily involved in working with charities and supporting various social causes. In fact, one of the reasons the company has done so well is their commitment to donate 10% of profits to various charities. He is the founder of the charity called Art Everywhere as well as the co-founder of the Innocent Foundation and in 2012 JamJar Investments. He is the author of If I Could Tell You Just One Thing…Encounters with Remarkable People and Their Most Valuable Advice.
In 2016, he was also appointed as Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honors. The Innocent Foundation has supported more than 70 projects in its existence working on projects that improve people’s lives and using their vast knowledge and innovation for efficient technologies. In 2015 Action Against Hunger and the innocent foundation partnered to help improve the treatment of malnutrition in Mali and Pakistan.