Liam White (BEng 2015): From investment banking to start-up success

After graduation, Liam White spent two years working in the world of investment banking before embarking on his entrepreneurial journey. Alongside co-founders Dr Will Breakey and Josh Rose, Liam launched Dr. Will’s, the UK’s first all-natural condiment brand. Now, the trio are leading a low-sugar revolution, with their products stocked in retail giants such as Tesco, Waitrose, Ocado and Selfridges. We spoke to Liam to find out more.

What initially made you want to study at the University of Bristol?
Well it’s a great university which is very strong in the sciences. Also, when I was a student it was the only university in the world that had the course I studied – Engineering Maths – which is a combination of maths, mechanical engineering and computer science.

Could you share a favourite memory from your time at the University?
Probably meeting my future housemates in my first year. Somehow we were all a few doors down from each other in the same corridor and we are all still great friends today. I ended up living with one of them for six years straight!

How did you and your co-founders come up with the idea for Dr. Will’s?
We have three co-founders – Will, Josh and me – and we all had slightly different experiences that led to us launching Dr. Will’s. Will’s mum was a nursery school teacher and often saw parents trying to get their children to eat their broccoli by covering it in sugary ketchup. Her and Will started discussing whether there was a better way to tackle the issue. Up in Newcastle, Josh had a restaurant and was frustrated that there weren’t any great tasting and healthy sauces to pair with his locally sourced burgers. My mum is a food writer which meant I grew up surrounded by and interested in food, so starting Dr. Will’s made sense!

What was the most challenging thing about transitioning from your former career in investment banking to being an entrepreneur?
Initially, it was deciding what to prioritise. I was used to being told what to do and suddenly I had to make sure that whatever I was working on was the most important thing for the company at the time. With a small team, you can’t do everything so have to be laser focused.

What has been the proudest moment on your entrepreneurial journey?
Hard to choose one, but probably getting our products listed in the likes of Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado. It’s still exciting seeing our products in major retailers.

What is your top piece of advice for Bristol graduates who are hoping to start their own business?
I actually think that there are much better opportunities both in the start-up world and for starting your own business than there were when I graduated back in 2015. I’d encourage you to network in start-up ecosystems, look at start-up accelerator programmes and conferences or cut your teeth at a fast growing start-up – that will help you to develop the tools you need to run your own business pretty quickly.

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