The Start Up Files is a series that aims to find out where good ideas come from and how they happen. Each fortnight we chronicle the journey of someone who brought their idea to life through the Renew Adelaide program. In this article, we chat to Damian Foo, co-owner of kombucha taproom Scullery.
Damian Foo lived a double life. By day he worked for his family’s vinegar business but by night he was a hardcore tea enthusiast.
After developing a caffeine sensitivity, Damian first started drinking tea as an alternative to coffee. Not one to take a hobby lightly, he started accumulating a collection of tea books for research. It was in one of these books that he first discovered kombucha. With his background in fermentation and love of tea, the concept of fermented tea seemed like the perfect combination of his two worlds.
After finding someone online willing to trade some starter culture for a jar of his homemade strawberry jam, Damian began his venture into the world of kombucha. For 5 years, Damian made kombucha as hobby, honing his technique and experimenting with different flavours.
Wanting a change of scene, Damian decided to move to Adelaide from Sydney in 2017. The move felt like the perfect time to start a new venture so he decided to launch his own kombucha brand and start selling at markets.
Originally called Booch but later renamed SCULL, Damian’s kombucha quickly became popular. Within months his entire apartment had been taken over by kombucha as he increased production in attempt to keep up with the demand. In addition, the sporadic nature of markets made it difficult for his customers to purchase more SCULL when they ran out.
Damian quickly realised he was going to need to find a permanent space but the start up costs would be a challenge. That’s when he discovered Renew Adelaide.
“Starting any business, capital and cashflow is hard. Especially in markets where it’s sporadic income. We didn’t have a lot of cash flow to even think about paying rent.”
After securing a rent-free space through the Renew Adelaide program, Scullery was launched. Situated in a warehouse space tucked away on Collins St, the space functions as both a production space and kombucha bar. Having a taproom means that customers have a dedicated space to purchase SCULL and sample new flavours. While the place can be tricky to find, Damian says that adds to the charm.
“The idea behind Scullery is a celllar door. It was never intentioned to be a pumping bar.”
As soon as Scullery launched, Damian noticed a sharp increase in customers from the press coverage around the opening. These new customers then recommended Scullery to their friends and word quickly spread. Six months later and business at Scullery is stronger than ever.