SME Magazine recently caught up with Andy and Jodie Howie, above, founders of Shaken Udder, which produces a range of milkshakes sold around the country
To begin with, tell us about your background with Shaken Udder. When did you set it up and what was the thinking behind it?
Jodie: Andy and I met at agricultural university. I am rather addicted to milk. We went to V Festival and realised that there wasn’t anyone selling great milkshakes. We had an idea of creating fresh milkshakes with real ingredients at events. Andy had visions of a black unit with a funky cow on it that was pumping out funky tunes. We always knew we wanted to use fresh ingredients in our milkshakes for a high-quality taste. Festival goers loved the fact that they could actually see fresh fruit and real chocolate go into the milkshakes rather than artificial syrups and flavourings. From the start we had really long queues at our stand compared to the others, they loved the brand and were even asking to buy the dirty aprons and t-shirts off our backs. It was a tough start though – we had to make the decision to put our house deposit into the business. And other people didn’t really think our venture would succeed but we certainly proved them wrong. We both come from entrepreneurial backgrounds so we had instilled in us the desire to start a business rather than work for someone else.
What experiences did you already have which helped you start the company?
Jodie: My dad had a number of businesses as I was growing up and he used to make me work very hard. From the age of about 10 he used to send me to the bank with the takings from his three shoe shops. He also used to get me to clean all the shelves after school. He had a cosmetics company that made soap and natural products and by the time I was 17 he had me running the gift-wrap and soap departments with six staff. I used to have to cost out all the goods to the penny and handle big contracts up to about £250,000. He expected quite a lot from you! It seemed normal to me to have your own business rather then get a job. Coming out of university, it wasn’t about whether I could start a business, it was about what business to start.
You launched in 2004. How has the company grown since then?
Andy: We have seen phenomenal growth since we launched. We realised the potential of Shaken Udder milkshakes when people kept asking us where they could buy them outside of the festivals. At the time, the shakes on offer in supermarkets didn’t offer great taste or quality. We believed milk deserved better and started to develop a bottled version. We had to spend our wedding budget on a labelling machine! We dedicated a lot of time to carefully honing the recipes as they had to be perfect with high quality ingredients and incredible taste.
We got our first listing in Harvey Nichols and they were then picked up by Harrods and Selfridges, followed by many other retailers including Waitrose. We are now a £22m brand (retail sales value) and have grown 38% YoY in 2022 (Nielsen IQ Total Coverage 52 w.e 02.07.22 ). Shaken Udder milkshakes are sold across all the grocery multiples and we recently secured investment with LDC (Lloyd’s Banking Group investment arm). We are the no.1 premium milkshake in the UK with the fastest growing chocolate variant in the market. We have a wide range of delicious flavours and formats including a dairy-free range.
Tell us about the milkshakes you produce? And where can people buy them?
Andy: Shaken Udder milkshakes are focused on taste and high quality. That’s our key USP in the flavoured milk category. Our shakes have a premium look and feel. Our milkshakes come in several different flavours, including Chocolush! and Vanillalicious. We also have a dairy-free range and a new ambient range of milkshakes. The ambient range is designed for the convenience sector and doesn’t require chilled storage. Our dairy milkshakes qualify as not being High Fat Sugar or Salt (HFSS) in content. Shaken Udder is stocked in all major supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda, Morrisons, Coop, Boots and Booths.
What do you find best about being your own boss? And the worst?
Jodie: The best thing about being your own boss is the ability to control your own destiny and see the tangible, positive results from what you do. You have created something of your own. The worst thing is that you can never really switch off and it always comes back to you, as ultimately the buck stops with you.