Soon-to-be final year students Roshini Kaur and Uwais Mahmood launched their milkshake delivery business, Docious, during their Selfie Year, with the help of ASPIRE. Here, one half of the successful brand, Roshini Kaur, tells us how it all began and where their future lies…
Roshini, from Kent, met business partner, Uwais, from London, back in 2019 in the lecture halls of the Medway campus where they had both started studying Business and Management.
“We just hit it off and became friends immediately. We had a laugh, there were similarities in our Asian backgrounds, and we seemed to share the same passions in life – food and drink!” says Roshini.
Before long, the friends were discussing potential business ideas after both attending ASPIRE and using the skills of Rebecca and Adam Smith to start their own business via The Business Start Up Journey.
“ASPIRE taught us about planning for a business, what credentials you need, things to get in place and most importantly – identifying a solution to a current problem in the market. We also met people from different corners of the globe, different courses, with different ideas – it was really inspiring,” she continues.
The duo knew that they wanted to launch a food or drink brand and using this advice got them on the right path – when they realised there was a gap in the market for their favourite drink.
“Both of us were milkshake enthusiasts,” explains Roshini. “It reminded us of our childhoods and teenage years. We noticed that while milkshakes stalls seemed to be a growing in presence, sophisticated products in stores were minimal – you could pick up a nice, iced tea or coffee product, but milkshakes had remained unchanged. It was a market we knew we could tap into.”
The business partners started investigating the market and how they could put a unique stamp on a milkshake product, to make it personal and something that represents the diversity of Britain.
“I am of Indian heritage and Uwais Pakistani and Mauritian, we loved the flavours of far-flung countries as much as we loved the sickly-sweet combos we were used to getting here at home. Why not conjoin the two? When we tested out some more unusual flavours – namely African chocolate, ginger and rose water we were really impressed with the results.”
There was born the product that would become their sole focus for their Selfie year in 2020 – a milkshake brand they named Docious that they were set to make in their kitchens and deliver out to thirsty locals looking for a hit of sugar.
“I love old kid’s films like Mary Poppins and as our milkshakes remind us of being little, it seemed apt to take inspiration from the Judy Garland classic with the name. It also has a ring to it; makes you think of something delicious!”
The start of the selfie year was a learning curve for all the serious elements of business – registering their company name and ordering cups and straws for the product. The creative pair also had great fun designing a logo and launching their social media offering – particularly Instagram alongside a marketing calendar of content to whip up interest.
“The logo had to be really unique but also bring in our cultural background which was so integral to the essence of the brand. We used Mandela Patterns that have a really Asian, retro vibe to them. Both Uwais and I were pleased with the end result.”
Docious milkshakes come in three flavours Cocoa Deluxe – a chocolate shake with an African twist, No Plain Jane – a vanilla shake with a hint of ginger and Pink Power – a strawberry offering with rosewater. The pair also launched crepes filled with anything from Nutella to mixed berries or marshmallows as part of their offering.
1,400 followers soon flocked to their Instagram account and a healthy stream of delivery requests from the website to around campus and beyond. Over the course of the selfie year they faced many hurdles – including making their offering more sustainable.
“We decided to ditch the plastic cups in favour of a carton and paper straw that were being produced locally in Kent, but we really struggled to seal the cartons without the use of expensive machinery which worked using intense heat to seal the product, I made a discovery – hair straighteners work in exactly the same way! Problem solved!”
Uwais and Roshini have spent part of their Selfie year carrying out market research including stocking their product in a small local convenience store to see if it sparked customer interest – which it did.
“We got feedback that it just looked and tasted very different to anything they had tried before – which was our aim!”
The icing on the cake for the dairy enthusiastics came in their recent grant award from University of Kent partner, Santander, this July – £2,000 to help launch their business.
“Rebecca Smith put us forward and we were so pleased to win the grant,” says Roshini. “We have bought a brand new blender that will really help us to produce the best product, the rest will go into supplies that are needed to keep the business going.”
Docious will have a pop up at the Medway welcome week and after that plan to juggle final year study with brand building.
“In five years, we hope to either have our own milkshake store locally or to be stocked in major supermarkets – perhaps even both.”
To check out Docious, visit them on Instagram.