It was a trip to the supermarket in 2014 that inspired Allie Szwarcberg-Poch’s life-changing business idea. Searching for a juice before a weekend shift at Sydney’s Star Casino, the then 23-year-old was wildly disappointed with what she found. So disappointed, in fact, that she figured she could do better.
After doing some research, Allie bought a cold-pressed juice machine and made a sample batch for her colleagues. One was so impressed they immediately suggested selling them in the casino’s cafe. “So I brought about 20 juices in at 9am one morning and I was worried about whether they’d move,” says Allie. “But by 10.30am I got a call – they’d sold all the juices and wanted to place another order.”
Next, she took her juices to the Marrickville farmer’s market where she immediately hit it off with a neighbouring stallholder named Braian. “We started off as friends and talked business a lot together,” Allie recalls. “Then, within a few weeks, we were dating.”
In the eight years since that fateful meeting, they’ve become business partners, married, had two children and seen Allie’s Cold-Pressed Juices grow more than they could have possibly imagined (the business sold more than 100,000 bottles of juice in March 2022 alone).
For four years the pair worked day jobs during the week then stayed up late on Friday nights to make juice they could sell at four farmer’s markets around Sydney. As batch sizes grew, so did the cost of equipment and ingredients, along with the space required.
Production moved from a suburban kitchen to ever larger commercial spaces – seven moves in eight years – as Allie and Braian struggled to keep up with demand. They’ve now squeezed over two-and-a-half million kilos of fruit and have sold more than one-and-a-half million bottles of juice.
For years the rapid growth of Allie’s Cold-Pressed Juices was fuelled by cash sales from the farmer’s markets, which meant the couple could never take a weekend off. But when they began seriously looking at the wholesale market – where invoices are often paid 30 or even 60 days after delivery – they knew they’d need help with cash flow to keep up with stock purchases. So in February 2020 they signed up for the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card, which gives Card Members access to up to $1.5 million in a line of unsecured funding across a 12 month period.¹
“The no pre-set spending limit¹ has been hugely beneficial because it grows with our business,” says Allie. “From the time we first applied for it, our revenue has grown eight to 10 times and the Card keeps up with that.”
That allows the couple to pay large bills – like $250,000 worth of stock – in one easy hit while earning up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 on everyday business spend² on the Card. Just as importantly, instead of racing between farmers’ markets they can now spend weekends with their children.
By putting all manufacturing and delivery costs on their American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card, the pair have amassed well over a million Qantas Points in just two years, which they’ve used to travel and expand the brand around the country. You can now find Allie’s Cold-Pressed Juices at 1200 stockists in six states and territories, including Three Blue Ducks in Sydney, Byron Bay and Brisbane, W Hotels and the Qantas First and Chairman’s Lounges.
“A year and a half ago, we didn’t supply any cafes or luxury hotels in Queensland; now we have over 350 and the numbers are similar in Victoria,” says Braian. “We’re also in conversations about a couple of opportunities in Asia.”
“And from a personal perspective,” adds Allie, “we haven’t had the chance to travel much because we’ve got a toddler and a newborn. But down the track we’re really looking forward to doing some more travelling with our family, using the points we’ve earned on our Card.”
Unlock the possibilities
Allie and Braian Szwarcberg-Poch share their top small business tips.
• The key to… maximising cash flow
“When you sell at markets you can manage cash flow pretty well because you get paid on the spot,” says Braian. “That was great for our growth in the early days but when we started to have more wholesale customers we came across a cash-flow issue. We were sending out invoices that might take a month to be paid but we needed that money to finance the cost of even larger manufacturing orders for the following month. That’s where having up to 51 days to pay for purchases³ on our American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card made a huge difference and allowed us to continue growing.”
• The key to… product development
“The Marrickville farmer’s market was the most incredible place to start a business because we had access to so much direct feedback from the customers on ingredients, price points, even bottle sizes,” says Allie. “It’s a great product-testing opportunity; we refined our product a lot in those five years, which is why there haven’t been any major changes to the juices since then.”
• The key to… maximising profits
“It’s important to make sure you have enough inventory at the start of each manufacturing cycle, because stock runouts can be horrendously costly,” says Allie. “If we’re out of our watermelon juice for even a few days, that can mean thousands of dollars of lost revenue.” This means thinking bigger at times – and unlocking funds when you need them. “Because there’s no pre-set spending limit¹ on our Card, our spending limit grows flexibly with our business. The bigger we grow, the better buying power we have. That’s really important when it comes to non-perishable purchases like packaging. When we purchase cartons, labels and bottles in greater quantities we get a better price per unit, which brings the cost of our products down. Those savings then flow through the business.”
• The key to… staying focused
“A lot of entrepreneurs feel like they have to expand the brand and the product offering constantly,” says Braian. “But when you keep it simple, you can actually focus on what’s important. We make two sizes and six flavours, and four of them are the same as they were on day one. That makes manufacturing much smoother, keeps things simple for consumers and means we can make sure that we’re always producing the highest quality juice.”
• The key to… reducing out-of-pocket expenses
“Growing as a business has meant expanding into other states, which means travelling to see stockists,” says Braian, who looks after sales. “That can be a significant cost, but we’ve been able to fund our travel using Qantas Points we’ve earned with the Card. So instead of waiting until money is available, we can book a trip whenever the business needs it.”
All information is correct as at 1 May 2022 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.