Auteur: Home Innovation in action

A business based in Deddington, Oxfordshire takes off with help from a like-minded coach

Working with Oxford Innovation Services through the Business Growth Service has validated the path we were on and helped us refocus towards even higher growth. Viv Cudahy, Auteur’s Managing Director

Auteur

Viv Cudahy was a fashion buyer for Harrods with great taste, a great eye for trends and a lot of entrepreneurial spirit. After the birth of her daughters, she felt the time was right to start her own business. In 2010, a friend of Viv’s in the US invested in bobble, a funky, environmentally friendly water bottle that is reusable and filters as you drink.
Viv was interested in home innovation and decided to set up a business called Auteur, distributing the iconic bobble in the UK. At the time, most banks were unsupportive after the financial crisis. It was hard at first, getting finance and taking it off the ground, but she persevered and stayed the course.

In just a few years, bobble is now ranged in premium retailers, such as Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Selfridges, John Lewis and Waitrose as well as in the Grocery and high street retail sectors.

Challenging beginnings

Viv had a five year plan and felt the company was going in the right direction but that more could be done. “As a managing director, I knew we needed a new strategy and to take stock, not to just run the business operationally. We didn’t want to rely on just one product and wanted to really expand and invest in design, which is what we are about, as a company” said Viv.
When she joined Business Growth Service, delivered by Oxford Innovation Services she was assigned business coach, Rosemary Brown. “It was crucial for me that this was a credible service. The fact I met the coach at a trade fair and she had a background in retail was also really important.”
Rosemary Brown started working with Viv and her senior team. “It was a very good fit, because of my experience in the sector. I was able to pick up on the issues quickly and we communicated really well. They have taken the advice on board and have been very active and positive. The main issue was it being a single product company, but we expanded the business model. It is very rewarding to see how successful Auteur has become,” said Rosemary.

Embracing innovation

Auteur valued Rosemary’s approach which was “reassuring but challenging at the same time and it was good to have deadlines”, explained Viv.
The business development coaching helped Auteur look at the business differently, scale up and embrace innovation across the company: diversification with a new product range and into more segments (they are now in 2,500 stores in the UK and Ireland), new recruitment and new processes. Innovative brands and cutting edge design are crucial to Auteur and its vision. Auteur went on to win Excellence in Housewares 2015 award and other regional awards.
Viv said “I wanted to build the brand and secure the core business first and then we were able with support from our coach to build the team, adopt a more collaborative approach, invest in training, define what we are as a company”.

What is next for Auteur?

Auteur are looking to expand their brand offerings in the design and innovation led products for the home. Having already added to their portfolio of brands in 2015 with the launch of That! innovation products and Rivsalt they are currently planning more brand launches. Continuing on their growth journey, Auteur is looking at internationalising the business and delivering design products for the home that are useful but stylish.

“I have been so impressed by the way Viv and her team have been fully engaged with the process, which has culminated in them winning their largest order ever. It has been a real pleasure and a privilege to work with them.” Rosemary Brown, Business Development mentor, Heart of Business