How A Cape Town FoodTech Entrepreneur Used Lean Startup Methods To Get Into 50 Stores In 8 Months

Yesterday, on Wednesday the 2nd May, we paid a visit to Tastelab HQ, headed up by Wessel Adriaan Pieterse. Full disclosure, I’ve known Wessel since our school years in the grand Republic of East London, and can honestly say I always knew he was destined to do something different. With a BSC degree in Food Science behind his name, followed by an MBA from UCT GSB, coupled with product design courses in Barcelona (I mean, what’s next Wes?), Secco Infusion is Wessel’s first creation - that lives, very neatly beneath the Tastlab Mother Brand

And Secco Infusion, a gin infusion, is already, 8 months into launch, heating up the shelves of 50 stores across RSA - yes, 50 stores in 8 months! Let’s not forget to mention a myriad of co-branding opportunities, global ones too, sitting on the table as well. Because, well, Secco lends itself so very well to serve as a partner to the many boutique gin brands that have sprung about across the globe. 

Wessel’s successful startup is a lesson in effective product design coupled with the Lean Startup Methodology. When I first came across the Secco story - on Facebook of course, because I’m a millennial - I marvelled at how aptly the product had been designed for our RSA market: branding, flavours, price point, supply chain. I knew he’d spent hours pouring over the details to get them just right. It also dawned on me that this is a brand that could very easily explode on the global stage too. That's when I decided to pay Wessel and his wonderful team a visit - check out the 6 minute video here: 

Secco infusion is just the starting point for Tastelab. It's certainly an amazing way to get the Brand out there.  I  tried to get out of Wessel what he may create next, but he’s a secretive man - what I did learn though is that all products will remain to their ethos of health - hence Wessel’s choice to make use of freeze-dried fruit and not air-dried fruit, in his creations. Take a look in the video at the difference in colour between a freeze-dried orange and one that has been air dried - freeze drying gives the fruit a remarkable more “alive” look and feel. 

When I studied the terms “Lean Startup Model” at UCT, during my Business Science degree, I didn’t really pay much attention to the term. It seemed like such an obvious statement at the time - equivocal to someone saying “the sky is blue.” Like surely every startup would be so smart as to try a Lean Startup model, right? Well, it took me one startup, at age 24, to realize it’s not as simple in practice, as with most things.

The Lean Startup And Breakeven Equation Explained

What stuck out to me about Wessel’s story was how rigidly he has stuck to the practice of a Lean Startup Model. In the interview, we also got to chat to him about a concept called the 'Breakeven Equation', which Wessel very eloquently explains for us. 

Want more insights from Mr Wessel? - visit this video on YouTube, subscribe to our channel (subscribe, yo!) and ask Wessel questions in the comments block beneath the video. You can also check out more videos here: