Karol Ostaszewski – Founder of Sxollie Cider

30 July 2018

Karol Ostaszewski shares the story of his successful cider brand SXOLLIE, born in South Africa and raised with a lot of hustling.

opinion : Clients

“Out in South Africa in 2014, along with my wife and partner, Laura Clacey, we decided to start a revolution, to lift cider from the doldrums, and develop a unique product that could help start taking the category to the next level. 

And so with a great deal of hustling, a necessary ingredient to progress on this challenging continent, SXOLLIE cider was born. 

Using 100% fresh-pressed juice, no added sugar or concentrates, our natural single varietal ciders showcase the globally recognised and revered eating apples such as Granny Smith and Pink Ladies. 

Our multi-award wining brand, salutes the art of the hustle we have experienced at first-hand, and urges a spirit of relentless activity to achieve maximum success. 

Now available in numerous countries around the world SXOLLIE seeks to spread its message promoting the virtues of quality cider, along with a rather large dose of hustling to finally get this much maligned drink to the highest tables.”

What made you decide to become a founder?

I cannot imagine not being in charge of my own destiny, and being a founder offered me an incredible opportunity to write my own story.

What’s been your most bruising / character forming experience as a Founder?

Setting up a business in South Africa.  I had always been told about the difficulty of doing business in Africa, but nothing could have prepared me for the minefield of regulation, bureaucracy and corruption that we faced starting up.

What were the lessons you took from this?

In this most challenging environment I learned that character, stamina and patience are critical business tools that help give businesses a firm and realistic foundation.  And, of course, I learned that without a lot of hustling nothing will ever be achieved!

Of your business achievements to date, what are you most proud and why?

Exporting to four countries within the first 2 years of setting up.  To be able to convince so many countries to take us on, in such a short space of time, with such a small team was a testament to the broad appeal of the cider.  This has given us the confidence as to the flavour profile, and presentation of our cider, which I hope can help change preconceptions around the category.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming a Founder?

It is not for the faint-hearted.  Be ready to be rejected, dejected, on cloud nine, and leaping for joy.  Running your own business is without doubt an extreme sport with highs and lows, but that immense feeling of securing a significant new account is an adrenaline rush of note.

If you could change anything to do with being a Founder, what would it be?

It would be being able to take a proper holiday without having to deal with that dreaded e-mail that always comes when you’re trying to unwind.

What’s your top tip for being productive?

Don’t over-analyse or worry about being productive.  Being a business owner is very different to being an employee, you only need to be productive when it matters to you, and achieving your goals.  It’s not possible, or realistic, to be productive 100% of the time.

Apart from a smart phone, what piece of tech can’t you live without?

Being a chartered accountant, and my need to always be in charge of the numbers I must say Xero’s cloud accounting software it a quite amazing piece of online technology.  Without it I would be swamped in paper, and constantly sifting through bank statements.

Talent or Hunger?

It’s all about the hunger, or in my line of work the thirst.  Our brand, and company ethos, is built on the concept of endless hustling in order to bring about opportunities to succeed.  Without such drive and ambition I don’t think any amount of talent will be enough to take you higher.

What do you do to switch off from being a Founder?

I find exercise, and more particularly running, clears the cobwebs, and allows me to tackle challenges with a new found drive and enthusiasm.  Much to the chagrin of my family, who have to ensure the endless orchestra, I also find classical music and opera a great way of switching off.

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