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Photo credit: Nick Dawe

Laura Willoughby, founder of Club Soda, tells us about why she joined the programme and what milestones she wants to reach before the end of the year.

Club Soda supports people changing their drinking whether they want to cut down, stop for a bit or quit. It comes from my experience of quitting drinking and realising there was nothing out there to help you take a self-guided journey to shift your drinking habit. At Club Soda we can connect you with trusted experts who can boost your chances of success from counsellors through to personal trainers.

We launched in January and have over 3000 members. As well as connecting you with experts, we run workshops in Soho to help people moderate or quit as well as nationwide social events in pubs and low- and no-alcohol beer tastings. We have demonstrated the need and market for a healthy lifestyle brand in this space and now we are looking for an angel investor to help us grow in 2016. It won’t surprise you to know that January is a good time for us to market what we do. But we are not resting on our laurels till then, we are launching our first paid-for online program helping people taking a month off booze – The Mob, and our new website will be launched in October. This will include a revamped marketplace for our experts and perks and we are charging for space.

My background is in the public and voluntary sector and it has taken me about a year to re-programme my brain away from the mindset of fundraising and commissioning to traction, marketing and investment. This is why programmes like Entrepreneur Academe really help – providing a place to ask questions and learn from what other start-up businesses need to know. Like most things in life, you get where you want quicker with short-cuts. Reinventing the wheel is a slow process, so EA has been vital to supercharging our progress. This includes understanding more about customer acquisition costs, marketing to people working with the City and understand the subtle nuances of how we describe tech in our business model. You could say it has helped me sharpen my soft edges.

Over the past few months we have reframed our investment pitch, demonstrating the real size of the drinking moderation and quitting market, how it fits in with the aspirational health market and why a brand like Club Soda is attractive to customers. We have started pitching events like our How to deal with Stress without Alcohol course to people working in the City and linking with private health care providers (thanks again to some great ideas from fellow businesses on EA).

This is an exciting time for us and we think we are hitting the market at the right time with the right product. Now all we need are some ambitious investors to join the party!