INTERVIEW: Newcastle based entrepreneur 'makes an impact with plant-friendly projects’

In an exclusive interview, we sat down with Callum Mather, entrepreneur and customer success director of Newcastle headquartered eco-friendly packaging specialist Everdurance. We discussed Callum’s rise to prominence and the growth of his ‘innovative’ business. Read on to find out more…

1. Firstly, can you walk us through the start of your entrepreneurial journey and establishment of Everdurance?

My entrepreneurial journey began a little before founding Everdurance and has since expanded beyond Everdurance to include angel investing and a non-executive director role. There is a consistent trend of innovative sustainability in my roles, which excites me and fuels my passion to make an impact with plant-friendly projects.

In my final year of Marketing Management, I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of the Incubator at Northumbria University. During the event, North Star Ventures presented an investment opportunity for a cohort of business ideas from Northumbria students.

Initially, the idea for Everdurance was to minimise the use of plastic bottles at running events by introducing edible drink sachets (imagine a dishwasher capsule filled with a sports drink that is 100 per cent edible). My pitch was successful, and in February 2020, I received the necessary investment to launch the venture.

However, shortly after receiving the investment, the world came to a halt. The following nine months were filled with mentor workshops and research and development. During this time, I made the first pivot towards offering cartons of spring water.

Armed with cartons, I embarked on a door-to-door campaign around Tynemouth cafes, resulting in a surge of eateries stocking our products. Finally, Everdurance had found traction in the market.

2. What, in your mind, makes Everdurance stand apart from its contemporaries?

Everdurance is the innovative, fast-paced wholesaler ready to question the traditional drink industry. We believe in partnerships and building product selections for our customers, rather than finding customers to fit our products.

We stand apart from conventional wholesalers by promoting only the most planet-friendly products, with an ethos that less pollution means more happy customers. We have sourced local UKI drinks, so your beverages travel less, often with just one journey from source to shelf.

We would love to hear from everyone who cares, whether you drink our beverages or not. This includes big businesses, family businesses, charities, stores, zoos, schools, MPs, and the list is endless, because we want to know what you would like to see on your shelves, and how we can assist you.

3. How was your experience with being invited to Santander’s Entrepreneurship Awards in 2021?

The Santander Entrepreneurship Awards were incredibly eye-opening. It began with 6 months of mentorship, covering everything from business including pitching. The finale took place at Wembley Stadium, where we had the opportunity to pitch for £75k.

Personally, I had never experienced such a gathering of like-minded entrepreneurial individuals, creating an immersive community feel that was unparalleled. A total of 85 of the best UK start-up businesses, representing their universities, competed for the grand prize, raising the standard to exponential levels.

Although we did not emerge as winners, the amount of learning and networking that took place due to the competition was immense. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend the Awards, or similar events, to young entrepreneurs who want to gain valuable experience and become part of a supportive community.

Since the competition, we have recently formed a partnership with one of the semi-finalists, Scrapp, to collaborate on educating secondary schools about correct recycling through interactive barcode scanning technology.

4. Can you explain the reasoning behind ‘pivoting’ the business at the end of 2021?

Towards the end of 2021, we recognised the opportunity to have a greater positive impact on a larger number of people while also reducing our carbon footprint and our customers’ carbon impact. Additionally, we aimed to make sustainable drinks more affordable. Without divulging too much information, we made several changes to our operations.

We streamlined our logistics by eliminating unnecessary steps, which included encouraging customers to increase their order quantities and reducing the frequency of deliveries.

Furthermore, we assessed our suppliers and decided to exclusively collaborate with suppliers within the UK and Ireland (UKI) region, prioritising local sourcing to minimise pollution throughout the supply chain.

As a result, we achieved a significant reduction in pollution. Moreover, our adoption of a lean supply method enables us to offer businesses more affordable sustainable drinks.

5. What can you tell us about some of Everdurance’s most notable clients to date?

We take great pride in our customers’ commitment to reducing their environmental impact by choosing cartons as their preferred hydration option. It’s noteworthy that even prominent public attractions in Newcastle, such as the Sage, offer cartons to their 2+ million annual visitors.

Furthermore, at The Discovery and The Great North Museum, you can discover a wide range of natural fruity drink flavours, confidently knowing that they have been sourced locally and delivered through eco-friendly means.

Beamish Museum has also demonstrated their ongoing dedication to sustainability by creating their own exclusive cartons, which are available throughout their living museum. We eagerly look forward to partnering with more esteemed organisations across the UK.

6. If you could sit down for a chat with any influential person in the business world who would it be and why?

Tough question, but if I could choose only one person to have a chat with, it would be Sir Richard Branson. There is no doubt he has accomplished astonishing amounts in business and human rights across the world and beyond. My interest in Sir Branson stems from his leadership style and management across the Virgin Group and other projects.

He’s often been seen to challenge tradition and has a reputation, on occasions, of being the cheeky underdog, which I admire. He’s been known to assemble extraordinary teams in unrelated businesses and credits much success to team building, talking about teams like family.

I would like to follow a similar path at Everdurance and empower small teams to think outside of the box, to challenge the norm, and to lead with passion and innovation.

7. What does the remainder of 2023 and beyond have in store for Everdurance and yourself as an entrepreneur?

The goal for 2023 is to grow the Everdurance family with new team members and new partners. We have no doubt there are thousands of public attractions, organisations, stadiums, and even secondary schools who are screaming out to get rid of plastic bottles, and we can help.

We want to connect with like-minded businesses and work towards the common goal of making sustainability the best option for consumers.

All my focus is currently on progressing Everdurance to innovate the industry, but outside of work hours, I have taken up golf and I am hooked. I am not very good, but I am competitive. So, the goal is to reach my undisclosed handicap target by 2024.

By Matthew Neville – Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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