Geologist turned Mixloigst, Samuel Elijah, shares how he took a leap of faith after finishing university, to start his own business with the hope to make a stamp in the cocktail making industry
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a Mixologist trying to make a mark in a new growing industry. I went to Portsmouth University where I studied Bio-Medical Science for a year but did not like it so moved on to study Geology and Geotechnics Engineering.
What is GÙZZÜ (Guh-zu) and what was the inspiration behind its birth?
It is a mobile mixology service which also provides packed drinks for Off Licences as well as bars and restaurants. We have been operating for approximately 1 year and 10 months.
I used to make drinks at university house parties and my drinks were well-liked by many which built me a small reputation. After I finished university, I got into my first graduate position, which was Site Investigation; this resulted in me being stuck in an office which I didn’t enjoy. I was looking for other jobs but to no avail, so I decided to take a leap of faith and do something on my own. I had always wanted to own a bar but I thought I’d start from ground zero, by first getting my brand name out there so that when I do have the bar, the brand will be known already.
How did the name Guzzu Drinks come about?
The name came about from one of my best friends in university. He made some food which was really spicy and I drank all his drinks because of the spice. From that day forth he used to call me a ‘guzzler’. When I had the dream of having a bar, I was going to call it ‘Beer Belly’ but thought that it could be associated with binge drinking. I then came up with ‘guzzle’ but it could also be associated with binge drinking which is something that I didn’t want to promote. I liked the name ‘guzzle’ and I wanted it to be the basis of the brand and so after much deliberation ‘Guzzu Drinks’ was formed.
What makes Guzzu Drinks different to other mixology/drinks companies?
What makes us different first of all is that all our drinks are signature cocktails which cannot be found anywhere, plus they taste great as testified by others! We as a brand also offer cocktail making classes and provide random free giveaways all over London which definitely sets us apart from others.
What has been the most memorable experience since starting the company?
It was my first event which was the wedding of a friend of mine (Make My Day make-up artist). She asked for 200 cocktails which was a lot as I had never catered for that amount of people before. I knew it would be a challenge; because firstly of the number of people and secondly, many people from my university would be there so I knew I had to impress. The event was a success and I got my first taste of what providing cocktails on a larger scale would be like and the feeling I got from the compliments was immense.
Have you faced any challenges since its inception and how have you overcome them?
For me, every event is a challenge because I always want everything to be perfect, I never want anyone to have a bad word to say about the brand. There are common challenges that I face which I can imagine many businesses face, such as getting people to work with you and staff not being able to make it on the day. Apart from those challenges, I also get people comparing Guzzu Drinks to other start-ups which have ridiculously low prices but with drinks that are not necessarily as unique and tasty as ours.
Is Guzzu Drinks a full-time job for you?
Yes this is full time job for me, as well as catering for events I have a product called ‘Pink Thursday’ which is currently stocked in an Off Licence and a couple of small bars.
What is next for Guzzu Drinks?
Expansion! I am currently planning on how to take Guzzu Drinks to the next level and to be a well-known brand. I like to do things differently and at the moment I am working with some script writers that are in the industry already who will be helping me to do a short movie to promote the brand.
What three tips would you give to someone who would like to start their own business?
Believe in yourself, do as much research as you can, not only from your industry but from others, and be ready to make sacrifices as nothing comes easy.
What are your thoughts on young Nigerians abroad connecting and do you think it is important?
Nigeria is going to be a very big part of the world tomorrow. The Nigerian community in the UK is well connected but I still believe that it can be better and I think that it is very important that it gets better. It has been embedded in us to work twice as hard as the next person so I believe that with that work ethic if we were to network with each other more, business will be much easier and the possibilities will be endless when you are working with like-minded people.
What role do you think communities like N.N.C can have in facilitating such networks?
I believe by doing networking events and holding award ceremonies will be an important role because all businesses want recognition and want to interact or network with people who are causing major waves in the industry. Events such as these will motivate a range of people from those like me who owns a business to people who have been sitting on a great idea for five years.
What important lesson would you like others to learn from your journey?
A lesson I would like others to learn is to not rush into things but take your time and understand fully what you want to do. When you put your mind to something do not stop for anyone and keep going at it. In the beginning you will get a lot of laughter, but after people will salute you.
Where would you like to see yourself in the next five years?
I would like to have a couple of national and/or international bars up and running and to be a major player in the events industry.
I want to have mini festivals which will be called ‘Guzzu Fest’ which will be in Brixton, London. My first step to that is working next year at Notting Hill Carnival 2017 promoting a range of new drinks such as my delicious non-alcoholic drinks. I would also like Guzzu Drinks to take me around Europe for events within the next five years.
Join Guzzu Drinks for their Cocktails and Comedy Launch Party on the 30th of April 2017. Follow their social media accounts to keep up to date: