Suffolk entrepreneur creates beetroot crystals

1:53 p.m. September 21, 2022

Norfolk and Suffolk companies have launched a diverse range of innovative new products thanks to grants.

Norwich-based online training start-up Reuzer and Ipswich-based fruit and vegetable juice maker James White Drinks have previously received grants from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Through Innovation Fund in 2020.

A five-figure grant enabled Reuzer founder Ian Smith and business partner Bobby Burrage to take the plunge and develop an e-learning platform to help companies train their employees.

Reuzer's e-training platform

Reuzer e-training platform – developed with the help of a New Anglia LEP grant
– Photo credit: Henry Ashcroft

James White Drinks – based in Ashbocking and founded by Managing Director Lawrence Mallinson in 1992 – has been able to create products for health-conscious consumers, including a new powdered version of its beetroot beverage, Beet It.

Reuzer said the investment spurred its growth by two years as it targeted the fast-growing global e-learning market.

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Ian Smith and Bobby Burrage secured match financing to launch their business after reaching out to business advisors at the New Anglia Growth Hub. They also worked with the Computer Service Center (CSC) in Norwich on the project.

Ian Smith, founder of e-training company Reuzer in Norwich

Ian Smith, founder of e-training company Reuzer in Norwich
– Photo credit: Reuzer

The grant helped them develop an online learning management system to host customized and off-the-shelf content. In 2021 they launched their new e-learning platform called Reuzer Platform.

“I would recommend startups to apply for the grant as they can grow faster. We now had a platform in year 1 and otherwise it would have been year 3,” said Ian.

“Knowing all the pitfalls and requirements from previous experiences, I knew it had to be easy to use, optimized for tablets and mobile phones, and very visual.

“We met with CSC many times, worked out the work and looked at the development step by step. We supplied all the wire frames and they were able to replicate it pixel by pixel. In this way, they created a new feature for review every two to three weeks.

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“We received positive feedback from a customer who typically had five IT issues per week with their previous platform and one or two with us for the first two months after implementation.”

The company’s first customer was Seajacks of Great Yarmouth, which operates self-propelled jack-up vessels for the renewable energy and oil and gas markets. In the first six months, the company completed 1,500 e-learning courses on the Reuzer platform compared to 120 on another platform.

James White Drinks – which exports products like its Beet It beetroot drink and Big Tom spicy tomato juice to 30 different countries – has launched its new beetroot crystal product into the sports nutrition market.

LEP funding helped develop the first prototype and the team launched a Beet It Sport Nitrate 8000 crystal product in late 2021.

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“The product has been enthusiastically received, but we have stocking problems,” said Mr. Mallinson.

Managing Director, Lawrence Mallinson at James White Drinks' Ashbocking headquarters.

Managing Director, Lawrence Mallinson at the James White Drinks headquarters in Ashbocking with some beetroot
– Photo credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“We are currently experimenting to address this issue and expect to re-launch later this fall with a modified version within the product’s potential.”

“We are confident that we have now found the solution and can’t wait to start promoting the Beet IT crystals widely again.”

He recommended other companies to apply for the grant “because it is essential for the future of any company to think about innovation”. “This scholarship encourages you to keep going,” he said.

To learn more about the Growth Through Innovation Fund, visit the New Anglia LEP website or contact the New Anglia Growth Hub business advisors directly on 0300 333 6536 or email [email protected].

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