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How I got to the top: Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, Drink Dry

Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, the founder of Drink Dry
Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, the founder of Drink Dry

What does your company do?

Drink Dry is the UAE’s first and only non-alcoholic drinks marketplace. We aspire to open the world to new and better ways of drinking. We sell and distribute premium non-alcoholic drinks in the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

What inspired you to develop your idea?

The business idea was born out of my personal experience as a consumer. I could not believe that there were no premium alcohol free drinks available in the region. I was convinced that there must be other consumers, like myself, who were looking for healthy, sophisticated and adult-targeted alternatives. We wanted to bring the zero alcohol drinks category to life in the Middle East.

How have your priorities changed from when you first started?

It was a one woman show when I started Drink Dry and we have now significantly grown the team. I went from doing everything myself to managing an incredibly talented group of people. It is fascinating for me to see the journey of our small but mighty startup and the passion that everyone has for what we do. I am inspired by them and, most importantly, I get to learn from the subject matter experts every day.

What do you look for when hiring talent?

First and foremost: the right attitude for our business. Startup businesses have a very different work environment and culture from the corporate world, it is a lot more chaotic and “messy” but, equally, a million times more rewarding.

You might have the absolute best candidate in terms of their skill set but you know immediately that they will not flourish within your business environment. We look for agile, pragmatic and fast-moving problem solvers who are incredibly passionate about what they do.

What counts more: luck or hard work?

Hard work, no question about it. It is never luck that helps one build the business, it is more about putting yourself out there as much as possible without any expectations and building genuine relationships with people.

Some might say that you got lucky because you met someone accidentally and they proved to be your winning ticket to success. However, they don’t know that you had put yourself out there a million times prior to that with no luck and just kept on going every time.

What was your biggest ‘lucky’ moment?

I have had five big “lucky” moments so far in my journey with Drink Dry. These were the five times that I expanded my team and brought new people on board – Joan, Jonny, Ryno, Neha and Malak.

These people are the heart and soul of Drink Dry. Every bit of success that comes to us I accredit to them, their hard work, passion and unwavering belief in my vision to open the world to new and better ways of drinking.

What one thing do you wish you’d done differently?

I wish I had beaten myself up less in the early days. I always felt that I was not doing enough or not growing the business fast enough, even though in reality we were going a hundred miles an hour and seeing incredible success. Perspective is a great thing, I now make sure that we celebrate every successful moment and also take a moment to reflect and learn from our failures. This is proving to be a great formula for sustained growth.

If you could rule the world for a day, what three things would you change?

  1. This may sound very naïve and impossible but I would redistribute all the world’s wealth and give the poorest in our society a chance to succeed. Sometimes people just need someone else to believe in them and to give them a break
  2. I would invest unlimited resources into cancer research to finally stop this wicked illness from destroying lives
  3. I would invest in creating free education and access to free healthcare for every single child on this planet

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?

Leaving my newborn baby at home and going back to work just a few days later. She was my third child so I knew what to expect in terms of baby blues and the possibility of postpartum depression. It was the absolute right thing to do for me and my business, but as a mother it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make.

What three factors do entrepreneurs misjudge about the Gulf market?

  1. That the local government and local authorities do not support foreign business owners – false
  2. That the market is very volatile and unpredictable – false
  3. That local people are not friendly and that there are impossible cultural differences between locals and expats – false

Dream mentor?

I’ve got him already – Tyrone Reed, CEO of Alabbar Enterprises.