It's seems too good to be true, like something out of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. When The Daily Wiz team found out that an ice cream with less calories than an apple existed, we had to interview the founders of this magical creation. Harry and Charlie share the story of Oppo Ice Cream! Key figures: Oppo launched straight into Waitrose and Ocado in October 2014, but I was working for 25 months prior to this to get Oppo just perfect. We now have 8 full-time members on the Oppo team and are regularly beating our revenue targets as set by our investors. Can you tell us a little about yourselves, your background and education? We both grew up in Dorset and went to school in Buckinghamshire. Before starting Oppo, I worked for Diageo and Harry was Head of Marketing for a Google joint venture. What inspired you to create Oppo and what age were you when you came up with the idea? The Oppo story began in 2011 when Harry and I travelled to Brazil to break the world record for the longest distance travelled by kite on land. Running out of food, we survived on foods naturally growing along the Brazilian coastline, including coconuts and wild super-fruits. Not only were they super healthy and nutritious, but they tasted amazing too. On our return I left my job at Diageo, moved onto Harry’s sofa (he didn’t have much choice in the matter!) and started researching whether a luxury guilt-free ice cream was possible. I was 23, Harry was 26 and I had no idea how to make ice cream! But I was adamant that there could be no compromise, Oppo would be healthy, and taste fantastic. Following 25 months of research, 3 factories, 2 specialised food research centres and 4 grants, Oppo launched straight into 117 Waitrose stores and Ocado.com in October 2014. We’ve had a great response, multiple 5 star reviews on consumer websites, numerous testimonials from industry professionals and have been lucky enough to win ‘Most Innovative Product of the Year’, the ‘Healthy Food Guide Award’ and ‘Guardian Startup of the Year.’ How have managed to make an ice cream with fewer calories than an apple? We use fresh milk, virgin coconut oil and stevia leaf to make Oppo naturally sweet and creamy but with less sugar and calories than an apple. Each flavour has a unique superfood boost to enhance the nutrition and taste. There are currently three flavours available on supermarket shelves: Salted Caramel with a hint of Lucuma, Madagascan Vanilla with a hint of Baobab and Mint Choc Swirl with a hint of Spirulina. Did you ever imagine you’d have your own business at such a young age, has it always been a dream? I’ve always had a desire to work in business; when I was at school I set up my own tuck shop (which I even had a P&L for…) and after graduating went on to sell some of the most recognisable brand names in the drinks industry. Whilst on our trip in Brazil my brother and I certainly weren’t on the lookout for a start-up idea. We were there for an adventure and in the vague hope that we may break a world record… People always ask me about risk and how I managed to make the decision to take, what for many, is a giant leap from their job to start their own thing. For me it was a bigger risk to stay at Diageo and not pursue the idea behind Oppo. I was, and am, determined to show the food industry that health and indulgence can be combined, we want people nationwide and beyond, to indulge guilt-free! What has been the most challenging part of starting your own business? There have been many…making ice cream healthy has certainly not been easy! Six months into the challenge we thought we’d cracked it. It tasted amazing and we started pitching to the major retailers. One immediately loved it. Eureka! We made up the first batch of 750 litres to test the processing. Disaster struck. The product failed stability tests meaning that its shelf-life was too short. Back to square one. 14 months in and we hit another hurdle. A burst pipe during factory trials meant that £8000 of ice cream was left strewn onto the floor. With £1.05 left in the bank account and a year’s worth of work literally on the floor, Oppo seemed finished. Oppo is now on the shelves, has a suitably long shelf-life and isn’t all over the floor which makes all the months of work worth it!! Challenges come up every day but we always look to overcome them by keeping positive – to succeed and enjoy your inevitably tough journey we believe you need to see opportunities where others see challenges and reward where others see risk. What words of wisdom would you give to other young entrepreneurs? The product is everything. You need to make your product remarkable. ‘Remarkable’ means ‘cool’ to most people, but it actually means ‘worth making a remark about’. As a start-up with zero marketing budget, word of mouth and an epic product is key. You’re small – great! Remember who you are, and act like David rather than Goliath. Don’t conform to the norm, but excite and surprise. If you’re a David, embrace David. Don’t try to emulate Goliath. Fill up that glass — to succeed and enjoy your inevitably tough journey I believe you need to be enormously positive. See opportunity where others see challenges, and reward where others see risk. Do you think that being young has its advantages for creating a business? Being young can definitely lead you to thinking outside of the box. But I don’t necessarily think this is due to being fresher or more creative. It’s usually because you’re compensating for a lack of experience! Before starting Oppo I had absolutely no experience about how to make ice cream, let alone one which is healthy! But this was my advantage. Industry professionals kept saying to me that a great tasting healthy ice cream was just not possible, they had tried. If I’d had industry experience I would probably have tried the same methods as everyone else … and failed. Even worse, I may have just given up. But when you don’t know the rules it’s much easier to break them! Think differently. My lack of experience meant that I was also always open to and actively looking for advice. It’s amazing - if you ask the right questions to the right people in the right way then lots of people will be willing to help. I used to go to a monthly networking event hosted by a branding agency. In fact it was at one of these events that I met one of the most important people to Oppo - I started by asking him his thoughts on a couple of challenges I had. Then I took him for coffee and he slowly became a mentor, and now he's an investor and Non-Exec Director in my business. Put yourself out there and ask for help, you never know where a conversation or simple question can lead! So maybe it’s not that you’re young that brings advantages, but what being young forces you to do that is your advantage. One thing is certain, being young shouldn’t stop you! Any plans for the future of Oppo? At Oppo, our philosophy is unique. There are too many health foods which are tasteless and too many indulgent foods which aren’t good for your health. The consumer is forced to compromise and this is wrong. We believe that food that isn’t both healthy and indulgent is broken. Accordingly, we’re not stopping at ice cream! We have recently completed research and development on a brand new product in a completely different food category but we’re staying coy on what it is at the moment. You’ll have to watch this space… Finally, the most important question, what is your favourite Oppo flavour? What a question! I love them all but Mint Chocolate ice cream was both mine and Harry’s childhood favourite so I’m going to have to go for Mint Choc Swirl with Spirulina! Thanks Charlie and Harry and we wish you the best of luck for the future of Oppo! If you have a great business idea, why not test it out on Wizbii by creating a personalised project page, free of charge? You can also meet like-minded collaborators and gain visibility for your project!