Richard Reed CBE

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Co-founder, Innocent

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Richard left advertising to set up a fresh fruit juice business; Innocent went on to achieve huge growth before selling to Coca-Cola. Richard now works with a new wave of entrepreneurs. In speeches he argues for a simple mission, emotional appeal and work on the small details: ‘enjoy by’ instead of ‘use by’ dates. Recruit entrepreneurial types with a ‘yes’ mentality, show zero tolerance to those with conflicting values, and borrow ideas from anywhere and everywhere.


Richard Reed is the co-founder and former co-CEO of Innocent. Challenging conventional business methods the company effectively created a mainstream market for smoothies and fruit drinks. They developed their own, unique brand identity, and went on to dominate (at one point with over 70%) the sector across Europe before selling the company to Coca-Cola. It also set new standards by running everything on green energy and giving 10% of profits to charity.

The initial plan was simple. With £500 of produce Richard and friends set up a stall at a music festival. Two bins, labelled YES and NO, were placed next to a poster that read ‘Should we give up our day jobs to make smoothies?’ By Sunday evening the YES bin was so full they immediately resigned.

Since those beginnings the combination of an natural product and a slightly anarchic approach helped Innocent gain huge profile and respect. Richard and his team were voted EY Entrepreneurs of the Year, and invited to Downing Street to offer advice on creating the right environment to encourage new businesses.

Having grown a company from nothing to a global brand, Richard has become one of the country’s best-known business leaders. He presented the BBC Three series Be Your Own Boss and wrote If I Could Tell You Just One Thing...Encounters with Remarkable People and Their Most Valuable Advice. Now the co-founder of a venture capital firm he applies his experience to a new generation of entrepreneurs and businesses.

Richard’s business mantra centres on simplicity, caring deeply about the product and the wider picture, involving the workforce, focusing on detail, listening to criticism - and letting image look after itself.

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Conference Speaker Richard Reed on Customer Feedback

On Recruitment and Plump Nuns

On starting a business