Honest Rum founders Dave Lincoln and Luke Jones are good mates who met in high school and then worked together in bars. They earnestly made their way up from cleaning glasses to creating cocktails and eventually becoming real connoisseurs. When they launched a spirit brand of their own, the pair reached out to Business Mentors NZ and found a great match with Mentor Darryl Holt.
Dave and Luke created Honest Rum with a shared commitment to quality and the environment. Dave explains, “Rum was the thing we always liked and enjoyed drinking together, but we could see a real gap in the market. We wanted a rum that was a little different. We wanted a rum that excited us and was also mindful of the environment.”
“Here we are a few months later - we've created a rum that we're proud to share; slightly intriguing, very delicious, but most importantly, kind to our planet.”
They set out to do things properly
"We talked to other business owners and entrepreneurs from the get-go. We repeatedly heard about the huge value of a Mentor. We also saw what Business Mentors NZ was doing to support small businesses during Covid, and so we got in touch. It was such a great opportunity.
" There are so many other challenges we face as entrepreneurs. We were looking for someone who could give us guidance on where we should be directing our time and put us in touch with key people. We felt like we needed someone who knew the industry.
“Darryl has been exactly the right Mentor for us. He knows a lot of people and could introduce us or give us names so we could set up important relationships. He's been super helpful with prepping us for big meetings as well. He’d tell us what to expect and what sort of questions we should be ready for.
For Darryl, the opportunity to mentor Dave and Luke had genuine appeal, and he's been delighted to share the experience he’s gained during his career.
“The industry has certainly changed over the last 20-25 years, but it has remained very competitive.
“My approach to mentoring begins by just asking questions. What are the two or three things that are keeping you awake at night? What are two or three things that you really want to improve?
A Mentor can give it to you straight
Dave says a mentor can bring a unique perspective.
"We've had great support from other people that we speak to, like family and friends, but they're often too close. As a Mentor, Darryl is removed from the business so he can bring objectivity.
“It's important to have somebody outside your network that you can lean on and who will tell you when something’s a bad idea. He can explain why we shouldn’t go down a certain route with examples from his own experience.”
"Darryl has given us more confidence to approach people and to get involved with bigger companies. He's also helped us figure out our pricing structure and what we should be considering.
Dave and Luke say their approach has to be particularly thoughtful because both founders are still working other jobs for now.
"From the very beginning, we knew we needed to be strategic when getting into the market. We started with the bars that we liked and where we wanted to see Honest Rum, and took it from there.
Despite their humble approach, Darryl says the product speaks for itself.
"The aroma is brilliant. Although there's a lot of subjectivity in flavour, with Honest Rum, you know you're drinking a premium product as soon as you taste it. And that's key. People will spend the money if it delivers what they're looking for."
A glowing future ahead
Dave says that he and Luke are working on a few exciting ideas behind the scenes, but they’re very careful to stay true to the brand and its values.
"We'd like to get deeper into what we do here in New Zealand, and eventually, we'd love to build our own distillery."
Darryl is enthusiastic about the potential for the brand and its expansion.
"Dave and Luke have started off the on the right track. It's a brand that has a strong identity. The brand is true to what it offers and can easily encompass more products. And it's one that has a proud fit for New Zealand – it's plastic-free, carbon-neutral and environmentally responsible. Their story is a great one!
Darryl is justly excited about his experience mentoring Luke and Dave and recommends others do what they can to share their own experience. “To any would-be Mentors, I’d say give it a go. It's a nice way to give back and add value to someone's business, even in a small way."
Dave agrees and says that he and Luke have found that if you’re clear about your vision, you’ll get a huge amount from having a Business Mentor.
“I’d say, decide what you want to get out of mentoring and be ready to put in what it takes. We're really happy about it, and we’d recommend it to anyone.”
Now that’s some very sound advice from two Honest mates!