The Life of a Food and Drink Founder: SLYDOG RUM

We chatted with Louis Goddard-Watts, co founder of SLYDOG RUM with brother Bruce about their journey running a small brand. We hear about the dream and vision of SLYDOG from product diversification to culture and the leap from a family business. 


What initially made you want to enter the drinks industry?

I was always fascinated with the idea of having my own drinks company, I loved the idea of creating a brand and a liquid that would eventually be drunk by consumers. I had initially liked the idea of  creating a gin brand, but the market was extremely saturated and the style of gin branding didn’t allow for much expression of new ideas. Rum was my drink of choice at the time and I noticed so many of my friends drinking spiced rum, so I did plenty of research before we made the leap to creating SLY DOG Rum.


Was there an initial memorable lightbulb moment for you and your business partner?

I wouldn’t say a lightbulb moment, but once we had clocked on to the fact that more and more people were drinking rum and spiced rum was starting to become very popular and moving on the same trajectory as gin. We knew we had a great idea for the rum market but we needed to make sure we had everything as we wanted it before launching.


If there was a skill you would want to improve or develop about yourself, what would it be? 

So far on our journey, I’ve always been reluctant to show my face with the brand. I know how important it is for customers to know the faces of the people behind the brand. Luckily my brother is much more comfortable doing this sort of thing so I can usually get away with it, but, if I could improve one thing it would be feeling more comfortable with putting myself out there alongside the brand.


What is a typical day for you, if there is one?

The great thing about SLY DOG is that every day seems to be different. A ‘typical day’ starts with getting up too early and we prepare all the orders, we try to have these all done before 9am. Now that I’ve taken over more of the marketing side of the business, I spend my time speaking with our influencers, organising promotional events, keeping our social media up to date, but also manage all production for the company so organising new runs takes up quite a good chunk of time. No typical day in a family business wouldn’t be complete without its fair share or discussions/disagreements, but we all want the best for SLY DOG so it all comes to a great conclusion.


What is your overall vision for your business / team / culture?

When we were building the SLY DOG brand one thing, we were sure of is that the brand needed to be easy to diversify into other markets. Although we haven’t made any decisions about our future direction, the brand has set us up easily to move into different market, whether that is new rum flavours, new spirits or completely different markets such as sport/music/events. We have taken a lot of inspiration from Red Bull, who have managed to diversify into so many markets with great success. At the moment we are still mainly the family team, but very soon we will be looking to expand our team with likeminded people. It’s really important that everyone working with us shares our vision for the brand and of course, they must buy into the SLY DOG way of life!


Do you find it hard to switch off from work as a founder? How would you best do this and what tips could you give?

Yes! Although we are able to take some time away from the business, you are always on call and always concerned with where the next problem is going to arise from. The industry we are in means that weekends are usually a very busy time for us so it is hard for time off. As a family we make sure we have time off in the evenings and do stuff with our friends and talk about something other than SLY DOG.


Your business is founded by you and your brother, how do you find the experience of running a business together? e.g. Do you have different roles within the business specifically?

Yes, although we think on the same lines, we bring very different skill sets to the business. Bruce has a physics masters and is very smart so he takes over anything technical. I have a marketing degree so bring a more creative angle to the business. We recently split roles in the business as there was too much crossover. Bruce is now heading up the Sales and I spend time on the marketing of the brand. Bruce is very confident going into meeting and works best when he is getting results, whereas, I prefer to be a little bit in the background and coming up with new ideas for the brand. Together with the rest of our family, I believe we have the right formula for SLY DOG to be a great success.


Thank you Louis! If you would like to try samples of SLYDOG Rum then get in touch with us via our website.