Having successfully launched the AnyWayUp Cup in the UK we now set about getting it into Europe. We contacted one of the largest baby/toddler product manufacturers and suppliers who were part of a huge international conglomerate based just outside Hamburg in Germany. And these were one of the companies first approached by the inventor and they had turned it down! They agreed to a meeting. I drove over to see them with a car full of samples – a journey of 804 miles door to door – via the Chunnel and then through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany.
I was to get used to this trip over the next two and half years, leaving Cardiff at 5am and driving straight through, only stopping for petrol, and usually arriving at the hotel at 7pm to have dinner with one of their directors. At 8am the next morning we would meet at the factory with directors, managers, quality testers and the marketing department. I got to know them well, meeting every 2 or 3 months and learned a lot about how German companies worked. Their attention to detail and safety and quality considerations was extensive, and sometimes extremely frustrating, but it had to be done. Each meeting would last for some 5 hours and we would then all repair to their canteen for lunch with me leaving for the UK at about 2pm and arriving back home in the early hours the next morning.
Sometimes I wondered if we would ever get a contract from them. The travelling and intensive meetings with just me and 5 or 6 of them each time was tiring and the amount of detail and information I had to take in and remember was sometimes overbearing. There would be no quick fix or decisions from these people! Detail, detail, detail, testing, testing, testing and more testing. My partner at that time said we would never get an order from them so why bother any more?
BUT – a dozen or so trips later we had the first order for the AnyWayUp Cup. And they built up to taking 1.5 million cups a year adding over £1.5 million in exports to the UK balance of payments. The journeys, time, frustration and steep learning curve was worth it after all. Another lesson learned – don’t give up!