26 April 2018

World IP Day 2018 – Charlotte Haygarth

Charlotte Haygarth co-founder – Denada Co.

Could you please describe your business and which problems it solves?

Denada Co. Pty Ltd is an Australian-owned and operated company that manufactures, distributes and sells sugar-free ice cream. We were established in late 2017 and have been in operation for three months. There is no other ice cream on the Australian market like ours. We are creamy, indulgent, guilt-free, low calorie, low carb and all natural, everything an ice cream should be. We use Xylitol to sweeten our ice cream, an all-natural sweetener made from Corn Cob and Birch Bark (similar to Stevia). As Xylitol does not affect blood sugar levels, diabetics can also eat our ice cream.

We have released four flavours, Vanilla, Double Choc, Mint Chip and Peanut Butter. We plan to release another two within the next three months.

With so much evidence presenting sugar as toxic to the human body, Australians are searching out sugar-free alternatives. When our Co-Founder Charlotte Haygarth (who is a Pastry chef) quit sugar, she realised there was no ice cream on the Australian market she could eat. How could this possible? How come no one else has done it? Surely there was a demand for it.

Our company has created the solution to this problem. We’ve created all-natural, sugar-free ice cream that everyone can eat, even diabetics. We give everyone an option to choose a healthier alternative without compromising on taste and texture – which is everything when it comes to ice cream.

With all the negative evidence against sugar, why shouldn’t we be able to have a better, healthier alternative? Denada Co solves this problem, we want sugar-free ice cream to become the new normal.

What kind of innovation and creativity challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

The main innovation and creativity challenge was recipe development. And still is. Firstly, ice cream is a science, and to create a sugar-free version, we had to understand how we could achieve it. In regular ice cream, the sugar acts as an anti-freeze. Without it, you must start adding other ingredients so your ice cream doesn’t end up like an ice block.

The tricky thing was we wanted to keep the brand all-natural. Sure, we could’ve put chemical emulsifiers and gums in to stabilise it, but we didn’t want to, that’s not what Denada is about. We did countless trial runs in our home kitchens, trying to improve with every adjustment. To get the ice cream to an acceptable level was easy but getting it to a commercially viable exceptional level was the hard part.

We overcame this challenge by learning with each adjustment what does and doesn’t work, research on the science of ice cream and each ingredient used, seeking advice from people in the industry and never giving up.

We started Denada in our home kitchens. This doesn’t sound like an innovation challenge but scaling from a domestic ice cream recipe to a commercially produced ice cream recipe is a huge adjustment we didn’t know we would have to make. The recipe changed drastically going from a domestic batch freezer to a commercial continuous freezer. We are lucky enough to have a great manufacturer that would advise us and give us tips and people to consult with. Being honest with ourselves about how much we didn’t know was really important during this phase. It saved us a lot of time and money simply asking for advice.

Did your business need to protect certain IP?

Yes. Recipes are the IP that needed to be most protected.

What steps did you take to protect your IP?

Everyone we engaged about manufacturing our ice cream had to sign NDA’s.

How do these steps protect you in future?

Our manufacturers won’t be able to produce our ice cream without our permission.

No-one can sell our recipes to a competitor.

Has your IP ever been stolen/misappropriated by a competitor?

No, but we’ve only been in operation for three months.

Is there anything you would do differently next time around?

Would we do anything differently? If we had more money, more time, more hours in the day, then yes of course! I think it’s hard to answer this question as a start-up. You can only do what your personally capable of and what you can afford at the time. We’ve made some stupid mistakes, but we’ve been lucky they weren’t costly. I think if we didn’t go through everything we’ve done so far, we wouldn’t be where we are today (in terms of knowledge, not success).

Are there any key lessons you would like to share with other female entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help/seek advice/opinions from others.

Know your weaknesses – we all have them.

Don’t be afraid to outsource. If you’re crap at something and it will take you two days to complete a task someone else can do in two hours, outsource it. Don’t waste time.

Go with your gut – it’s usually right.

Never stop learning, keep an open mind, be a good listener and know you’re not always right!!