Innocent Drinks founders back toys-by-post venture

Jam Jar, the investment fund run by the Innocent Drinks co founders, has backed an educational toys subscription business set up because “kids never receive parcels”.


When Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright were looking for investment for their smoothie business, almost every investor in the City rejected their plan out of hand.

Fortunately for Virginie Charles-Dear, the three founders of Innocent Drinks are less reluctant to back unusual ideas.

Her educational toys-by-post business has just won financial backing from Jam Jar, their start-up investment firm.

The Innocent founders have led an undisclosed “six figure” funding round in Toucan Box, which allows parents to subscribe to receive a monthly parcel containing activities and educational toys for young children.

Ms Charles-Dear said she was inspired by the success of US business Birchbox, which sends subscribers personalised make-up and cosmetics products each month.

“I’ve worked in various internet companies and thought that was a good idea,” she said. “Then I realised there’s nothing like it for kids.

“I was sat at home with my two young children trying to find a way to entertain them that didn’t involve TV. And kids never receive parcels – it’s always boring stuff for adults.”

For between £17 and £20 a month, the business sends a box containing four activities or projects and a story book. The package contains all the instructions and materials required for the projects – building a bird box, for example – and can be tailored for a particular age group.

“We want to go down the route of more personalisation,” said Ms Charles-Dear, who started the business from home last year using savings.

She is hoping to get advice on branding from the Innocent founders.

“They did an amazing job of branding a product that, like ours, was quite original at the time,” she said. “It’s great to have investors who have already shown how you can start something with pretty much nothing and create a multi-million pound business.”

Mr Reed, Mr Balon and Mr Wright sold the majority of their remaining stake in the smoothie business to Coca-Cola last month.


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