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My time at Fighter Shots: new experiences and lessons learned

Having grown up with self-employed parents, I have always been interested in entrepreneurship. When I arrived in London from Melbourne, Australia for my Masters in Management degree at London Business School, I was determined to make the most of the opportunity and get involved in the vibrant start-up community here. What better a way than to join a fast-growing start-up alongside my studies!

I started interning at Fighter Shots in early January 2020 because I liked the universality of their mission and wanted to learn first-hand about growing an early stage venture. Reading, networking, taking courses and attending seminars at London Business School about new venture development were very informative foundations, but for me, contributing in real-time to a new business’ growth has been my most insightful start-up experience so far!

Having first met Anna and then Kavita, our Founders, through London Business School, I was confident that tapping into their business background across Europe and the Middle East would be rewarding. This was especially true given that we worked very closely together, social distancing aside. I in large part attribute the richness of my learning to Anna and Kavita’s high energy, constructive attitude, and flexibility. My time at Fighter Shots was a pleasure because they consistently demonstrated these qualities, even when times were uncertain and stakes high.

Sabre with Fighter Shots Founder Anna Szymanowska

It was extremely rewarding to work with founders who were transparent about business developments and valued my input to key decisions and activities. For example, I created the investor deck for Fighter Shot’s recent crowdfunding campaign. This involved undertaking a competitor and industry analysis, financial forecasting and more, which helped us reach our maximum funding amount! Of course, there were less glamorous tasks often done with urgency, such as manually processing orders after a brief glitch with the automatic ordering software. However, these occasions were no less valuable to my learning. Indeed, they define the realities of growing a successful business and reflected to me that prioritisation, diligence, and adaptability are essential to move forward.

My core focus throughout the internship was strategy and sales. My favourite research piece to inform the strategy was discussions with founders from award-winning food and beverage start-ups. For example, I setup a call with co-founder Joyce de Haas from Double Dutch, a premium mixers and tonics business in which Heineken recently acquired a minority stake. Our chat uncovered the critical steps they took in executing their go-to-market strategy and helped us devise a high-level implementation plan of our own next steps.

Interviews with brands like this cut through any cloudy information and dispelled unknowns. I have been greatly impressed by and thankful for the reciprocity of the London start-up community throughout these meetings and in broader instances. I have witnessed first-hand the ways in which kind and motivated people have helped Fighter Shots chart a course through unprecedented times and intend to stay involved in such communities on account of this.

On the sales side, having a deep internal view of business processes while dealing directly with individual consumers (B2C) and businesses (B2B) was an eye-opener. I enjoyed interviewing customers and drawing insights from product ordering data to develop customer profiles that informed our sales strategy and positioning.

From having an active hand in the sales process, I have learned that strong internal and external synchronicity is so important in acquiring and retaining customers. Of note is that seamless execution can be more difficult when there are third parties involved (such as product fulfilment centres and factories); observing Anna’s swift action to urgently resolve any problems as they arose was for me, an inspiring example of living/breathing the business and caring deeply about customer satisfaction.

Just like Fighter Shot’s growing variety of flavours, I developed a variety of skills and knowledge by wearing many hats on the job. I benefitted from a vast range of activities, from creating a video and graphic advertisements to acquire investors and customers, attending investor meetings, and developing actionable marketing strategies, to approaching business buyers (on LinkedIn and in-person), running a physical pop-up stall (see right), and learning how to use sales and marketing platforms such as Shopify, Mailchimp, Amazon, and Mintsoft.

Fighter Shots Pop-Up Stall

If I were to start my own business (especially in the food and beverage sector) I would now feel much more confident and capable of my own ability to implement and overcome challenges. A big big thank you to Anna, Kavita and London Business School for playing pivotal roles in my London start-up experience. 

Oh and PS: as a likely biased customer myself, I would definitely recommend the shots!