Smart50 Awards 2014

19 Capi Sparkling

Revenue

$3.18 million

Growth

116.47%

Founders

Wolfgang “Pitzy” Folk, 64

Head Office

Victoria

Year Founded

2010

Employees

17

Industry

Wholesale trade

Website

www.capi.com.au

Wolfgang “Pitzy” Folk is no stranger to the Smart50 Awards.

Last year, the coffee wholesale business Folk founded in 2001 came in at number 23 on the Smart50 list. Folk has since sold the company — to Tata Global Beverages in May — but he has found success with another type of beverage: sparking water.

When asked about the difference between Map Coffee and Capi Sparkling, Folk told SmartCompany he’s “learnt from the mistakes” he says he made with Map Coffee.

“And hopefully I haven’t repeated the same mistakes!”

“I’m far more focused on brand positioning than I was with Map,” says Folk. “I’m more patient too.”

Capi Sparkling turned over $3.18 million in the last financial year, having grown by 116% since Folk founded the business in 2010.

The preservative-free Capi drinks, which are made from Australian spring water, are stocked in Woolworths supermarkets, as well as restaurants, cafes and other independent retailers.

Retail sales make up around 50% of Capi’s sales. Folk says the ultimate aim is for supermarket sales to outweigh the other distribution channels. But it’s a goal that will take time to achieve — hopefully helped along by a major billboard advertising campaign which Capi will launch in October.

“Retail is the big growth area for us,” says Folk. “And then exports, which we have already started to initiate.”

South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong and the US are all on Folk’s export market wish list and he will soon be meeting with branding experts in Europe to lock down a global strategy to take Capi to the next level.

“It’s often important to test your product in your own market first,” he says. “We’ve sent out test samples to other markets but now we have a firm strategy.”

Like coffee, Folk says the carbonated beverage market is a crowded place. But he doesn’t shy away from the competition.

“They are beautiful,” he jokes when asked for his opinion on the Coke and Schweppes of the world.

“They create the market and the demand,” he says. “But they are slow and cumbersome and they don’t adapt quickly enough.”

When asked how he has managed to carve out a space for Capi in the market, Folk says it comes down to the most simple of elements.

“It’s about brand and product really. If your quality and presentation and design isn’t right, you don’t have a brand.”

It’s an ethos Folk also applies to his team, who he rewards with breakfasts cooked by his chef of 30 years and a staff lunch each Thursday.

“Most of our business is done over lunch,” he says. “It’s the best way to do business.”

“Business is all about integrity and you can’t fake that, you’ve got to live it. You can’t do everything on your own so you have to share the rewards and also the pain.”

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