EACH week the Evening Times will throw the spotlight on one of the dozens of new businesses determined to succeed.

They are the future for Glasgow and the West of Scotland's economy and are working hard to achieve success in the face of continuing economic hardship.

Many start-up businesses are struggling to take off because of the economic downturn, and this new column will offer advice for potential start-ups.

This week, we talk to Derek Hoy, 32, far left, from Glasgow and Alec Knox, 31, from Kilwinning, who own Hippo Beers.

What does your business do?

Hippo Beers brings an unheralded range of more than 300 craft beers, real ales and world beers to Glasgow.

Our aim is to give people the opportunity to experience the many different varieties of beer and discover that there is more to beer than just mass-produced lager.

Good beer is our passion and we want to share that with as many people as possible.

We stock beers from brewing strongholds such as Belgium and Germany, as well as newer brewing regions such as USA and Scandinavia.

We love the independent brewing revolution that is sweeping the UK.

Where are you based?

We can be found at 128 Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow's West End.

We are no more than 10 minutes from Hillhead underground and five minutes off Great Western Road – well within reach of the heart of the West End.

How did you get started?

We started with an idea, a realisation that there was a gap in the market and a desire to do our own thing.

We have had a lot of support from Business Gateway and David Hughes at Glasgow's Regeneration Agency.

We must also mention the support of the craft beer industry. It's the kind of industry where people help each other out.

What is your background?

We are both new to retail (apart from part-time jobs in our student years) and the drinks industry.

Our background is public sector and consultancy. We like to think that our story shows that you can start from scratch but still forge a successful business with the right amount of passion, desire, hard work, dedication and belief.

It hasn't been easy and there have been some tough times along the way, but we've always believed in what we are trying to do.

What is your top tip?

Do your homework, research thoroughly and don't be afraid to approach people who will know more than you and be able to give you valuable advice and guidance.

And never ignore the importance of doing your sums and expecting the unexpected.

How long has your business been running?

Opened the weekend of November 30.

Has anyone helped you get started and how?

Other than Business Gateway and Glasgow's Regeneration Agency, we've had amazing input from people in our industry and great support from families and friends.

What was your first deal?

Buying a case of beer from Fallen Brewery in West Lothian for our first promotional tasting as part of Glasgow Beer Week.

Paul from Fallen met us in Blackfriars pub to hand over the goods and we had a quick beer and a chat.

That's how business deals should be done.

What was your biggest mistake/or what would you do differently?

We failed to realise initially you can't always rely on other people. At some point you need someone to do something and it can be frustrating if they don't deliver.

Who was/is your mentor/or inspiration?

It would have to be the brewers who brew all of the beers we sell. They are the true artists.

Where do you plan your business to be in five years' time?

We hope we can look back and say we have made people more aware of quality beer.

If we can open more shops then great, as long as it doesn't mean we have to compromise on our original aims.


Derek Hoy – derek@hippobeers.co.uk

Alec Knox – alec@hippobeers.co.uk