‘DORST’ co-founder Felix Höfte talks about his cocktail-on-tap business
Located in the Northern outskirts of Ghent, DORST is a unique business founded by four young entrepreneurs that wanted to get into the wonderful world of cocktails. At the age of 24, Felix Höfte is a co-founder of this thriving company which provides cocktails on tap for festivals and events, catering businesses, caterers and event agencies. Together with his three colleagues, he continues to develop this unique idea and business. At the moment people can enjoy 5 alcoholic refreshments (Mojito, Strawberry Daiquiri, Passion Fruit Mojito, Moscow Mule and Cosmopolitan) and 1 non-alcoholic cocktail (Ginger & Grapefruit).
Serving fresh and icy cocktails in speeds that can't be matched by other companies, Felix and his crew at 'DORST' are bringing the heat to the table. People often don't realize that making a good cocktail takes some time and can easily be screwed up by mixing the ingredients wrong. DORST found a way to overcome those obstacles whilst still preserving the same delicious quality. At Chase, we had the pleasure of tasting them ourselves during the opening event of our new office and they are delicious!
HI FELIX, COULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF?
I'm 24 years old and co-founder of DORST. For over two years now, I have been working on DORST as a company together with my other three colleagues. Our team consists of my cousin, my brother, a close friend and me. I never had another job than working at DORST. During my studies in Business Science, I already felt that I wanted to get into the world of entrepreneurship. After that, I started gathering ideas and started thinking about what exactly it was that I could do. Owning a business was something I was always dreaming of.
HOW DID YOU START WORKING ON DORST?
In the very beginning, the desire for entrepreneurship was a shared passion with my cousin. We often talked in bars about how bad we wanted to do something. So that's when my cousin Dimi Lesseine and I started brainstorming about what we could do. At a certain point, my brother Victor, my cousin Dimi and I were sitting around the table during our ski-holiday where we came up with the idea of releasing a cocktail box. A cocktail box is an idea of delivering all the ingredients to our customers with instructions so that they can craft delicious cocktails themselves. After 1 month Jurgen joined in to develop the idea. Jurgen is a Belgian bartender who has numerous experience in the cocktail and hospitality scene. He became Belgium's best bartender in 2015 and was even awarded "fastest bartender in the world". So for the next couple of months, we continued to work on this idea.
Eventually, the idea of the cocktail box evolved in delivering cocktails on tap. For us, that was kind of the logical thing to do. It didn't exist yet, and it solved so many problems for our customers. Naturally, we all focused on developing this concept, which became what now is known as DORST!
WHILST CREATING THIS BUSINESS, WHAT WERE SOME STRUGGLES YOU ENCOUNTERED?
Like everyone else who is starting a business, we also came across a lot of struggles and some of those are still ongoing. The fact remains that we have a very young team and on the other hand not that much experience. That's why we deliberately choose to surround ourselves with experienced people who can give advice when needed. They provide a little bit of steering in the right direction.
We realize that we will always continue to encounter obstacles, but we must surround ourselves with people that can help us overcome those. For instance, we participated in a project named 'The Birdhouse'. The Birdhouse is a mentoring program that consists of workshops on different topics and with different rounds of selection. When you're selected, you get access to bank funds and receive support and assistance in the development of your idea and business. During this program, it was super interesting to have conversations with other startups that go through the same struggles you experience.
WHAT IS YOUR SOURCE OF INSPIRATION?
As a team, we don't have a specific individual that we see as our inspiration guru or something like that. Naturally, we all know the great entrepreneurial stories from people such as Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, which are great stories that enable you to keep dreaming. But being realistic is also important. We are in a business where we have to keep an eye on the people around us. We learn the most by looking at our competitors, but also from businesses that are in completely different sectors, like the friends we have at The Birdhouse.
WHERE ARE WE GOING TO SEE YOU GUYS IN THE FUTURE?
In the short term, we’re focusing on Belgium, since we feel there’s still a lot of demand coming from the hospitality industry here. We’ll develop new products based on customer needs, and work on our internal processes.
In the middle long term, we aim to grow within the Benelux market and start export partnerships. We’ve already partnered with a distributor in the Caribbean, and are talking with partners in Canada, Denmark, and Switzerland.
In the long run, we aim to create the finest ready-to-serve drinks for the worldwide hospitality industry.
WHICH COCKTAIL IS YOUR GO-TO COCKTAIL?
That would have to be the Moscow Mule with vodka and ginger beer, my all-time favorite. The ginger beer gives the cocktail a nice kick and a delicious taste. Add a bit of lime juice and soda water and there you have it. The carbonation process is something that we can add extra. But for some cocktails, this gives it body and a fresh taste.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS THAT ARE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
This is going to sound very cliché but just go for it. In the beginning, we had to make some investments with our own money, so you must set up a buffer which you can fall back upon if things go wrong. It's important to realize that as a beginning entrepreneur, you aren't going to make that much money. Make sure you are prepared for that. Other than that, I'd say it's also important to test out your idea with several first clients or early adopters. Start lean and mean. If the idea is good, you'll know. If it is a bad one, maybe rethink your options. But like I said: just go for it. Take a good time to think about it (not too long), and then go out in the world to test it out.
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