A Sydney beverage startup aiming to be a global leader in sugar-free fizzy drinks has secured a major partnership with Domino’s that will see its products sold at nearly 200 pizza franchises across New South Wales.
Nexba, which recently brought on former David Jones chief Paul Zahra as an investor and advisor, has secured partnerships with retail giants like Coles, Chemist Warehouse and 7-Eleven, but Domino’s will be the startup’s first venture into fast food.
Nexba co-founder Drew Bilbe says the “quick service restaurant” model is different to other major retailers.
“[Domino’s] contacted us and we had a bit of a collaborative meeting,” Bilbe tells StartupSmart.
Before introducing Nexba’s products into Domino’s stores, Bilbe says the pizza giant ran “preto testing” online to assess consumer interest in the drinks range.
The results showed strong interest among Domino’s customers for Nexba drinks and a “better you range”, says Bilbe.
It took about 12 months after the initial meeting to see Nexba drinks in Domino’s stores and Bilbe says the experience of working with big players before really helped because it meant important logistics, production and facilities were already in place.
“We were fortunate enough to have done this work already,” says Bilbe.
Entering partnerships? Focus on the future
When working with “global brands” and big market players, startups should really focus on alignment with strategy and future plans, Bilbe says.
Walking in with a strong understanding of the big player’s brand and reputation is also critical.
“We worked on branding together and Domino’s were pretty clear on the way they wanted us to look,” he says.
Often, bigger operations work to tighter regulations and have higher standards of quality assurance, he says, so startups need to be able to meet expectations and execute at this level.
“You’ve really got to have a foundation, you want to be sure when you go into this meeting that you have done similar things before,” he says.
Bilbe believes it’s also important to enter such deals as a truly collaborative partner that’s flexible with changing plans and launch dates.
“We’re both taking on the risks and benefits,” he says.
Looking at Nexba’s success to date, Zahra says he’s excited about the company because of its “ambitious growth plans and boldness in taking on the traditional global players”.
“I intend to play a key role in guiding the company in that journey,” Zahra said in a statement.