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4 min read

AMA: Paul Mathew, founder of Everleaf

AMA: Paul Mathew, founder of Everleaf

Table of Contents

More of us are choosing non or low-alcoholic drinks. And by 2024, low and no-alcohol consumption is expected to increase by 31%.

And businesses are catching on. Paul Mathew is the founder of Everleaf, an award-winning non-alcoholic aperitif range.


Hi Paul! Tell us a bit about your company.

Everleaf is an award-winning non-alcoholic aperitif range, made with all the depth, aroma and flavour of the natural world, combining my background in conservation and botany with my experience behind the bar.

How did the idea for your company come about?

My background is in conservation biology and I grew up as the son of a botanist, so I have spent a lot of my life surrounded by plants and looking at people’s interactions with them.

Initially, I was a biologist who bartended, but one overtook the other, and I became a bartender with a passion for using plants to bring the flavour.

I learned a lot about what makes great drinks over the years, and so when we found more and more customers wanting no and low alcohol drinks, I put that to work to create a non-alcoholic aperitif with all the depth and complexity of the finest alcoholic drinks we had behind the bar. 

It took over a year of experimentation to develop Eveleaf, from researching plants, dehydrating ingredients, macerating and extracting, to finding sustainable sources before I had what I wanted.

The texture of the drink was the challenge. Mouthfeel and viscosity is an unseen part of what makes a drink great; however, I was able to find solutions from the natural world, with answers coming from both the land and sea in the form of acacia and seaweed.

Finally, we launched Everleaf in January 2019. There are three varieties in the range: Forest, Marine and Mountain.

What does company culture mean to you?

We talk about our different Everleaf products being inspired by biomes - the habitats the flavours represent (Forest - complex and bittersweet, Marine - crisp and refreshing, and Mountain - vibrant and aromatic).

But we also refer to those ecosystems when we talk about how the different plants we use work together. Everleaf is more than the sum of the parts, just like a forest is more than just trees, everything plays its part and helps them thrive.

That applies to company culture too. We all contribute something different, which together makes the company stronger and helps Everleaf to grow! 


How do you keep the team aligned?

As a young startup, it’s been really important to define ourselves - what we are and what we’re not, but that also evolves, so we keep coming back to our “Everleaf on a page”, revisiting how we see ourselves, and how best to communicate that to others.

That feeds into everything else we do; from sales and marketing, to talking with our customers at events and on social media. 

We all virtually gather together on a Monday morning to catch up on the previous week and align on the next, and at a monthly level, we share our goals for the coming month, revisiting that the next time round to see if we’ve maintained our focus.

And, if we haven’t, whether that’s down to distractions that need addressing, or a positive development that led to a change in priorities. 

Are you and your team still working remotely? Do you plan to keep that going?

Like so many other companies, we had to give up our office at the start of Covid, and we haven’t yet formally gone back. Our team has grown, but we’re now spread out, so it doesn’t seem to make sense to have a single office.

We make sure we meet up regularly - either at one of my venues or somewhere else that works for everyone (we’re all just back from a couple of days together at London Cocktail Week, for example).

But I like having the freedom and flexibility for the team to work remotely or together if they want, whatever we find most productive.  

What is the biggest mistake you have made as an entrepreneur?

A common one amongst entrepreneurs; trying to do too much myself in the beginning.

We hear this a lot!

I needed to recognise that there are people that can do almost all parts of the business better than I can, so find the right people, help them grow, and let them grow the business in return.  

Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team? What impact has it made?

We’re in the process of building that at the moment, and I know the team are excited about what it will bring - cementing that sense of cohesion, ownership and loyalty that already exists in spades (we have a great team)!


That's great to hear! Did you ever experience a business disappointment that led to something better?

Startups are a never-ending rollercoaster of disappointments and rewards! Huge ups and downs which is all part of the thrill - and part of the learning experience.

To take one example, before Covid, around 80% of our sales were to bars and restaurants. It was hugely disappointing and enormously sad to see the effect of Covid on hospitality, but we offered support where we could and grew our other channels.

We’re now seeing bars and restaurants bouncing back and giving Everleaf a lot of love which is great to see, plus we’ve retained those other channels, so it’s a really positive time for us. 

In a parallel universe, if you hadn’t started this company, what would you be doing?

I loved my time working for conservation charities and would probably still be there if a particular set of stars hadn’t aligned when they did. 

At Everleaf we’re trying to bring those two worlds together though, sourcing ingredients sustainably, as well as donating to the charity I used to work for (Fauna & Flora International) through our 1% For The Planet commitment. 

Fantastic! And finally, if you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

I’m not sure I could do it. I love variety, complexity and discovering new flavours. That’s why we use so many botanicals in Everleaf - to give an endlessly delicious experience - by which I mean you’re always finding new things with every sip! 

We'll let you off! Thanks for your time Paul, it's been a pleasure.

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