He started out brewing limoncello in his basement. Now he just sold his first 300 bottles. Phaedo Thys (27), founder of Signore Distilleries, is just in the beginning of his entrepreneurship but already wished he started way earlier.
Where did the idea of your business derive from?
Initially my godfather taught me how to make Limoncello as he is a great cook and a real Burgundian. So I started to make it myself as it is refreshing to do something different once in a while. I thought Limoncello was a good product and as it normally has a fixed recipe, I started experimenting with it. Trying out different lemons, herbals, etc. I like to do things different, change is good. Slowly I started to ask friends and family to taste it. Because without people drinking it, making Limoncello had no purpose. Turned out that they really liked it. One thing led to another… I developed two recipes with different flavors, took the step to create a brand, found a distillery, and now my Signore is available on the market.
Who is the one person to be your greatest example and inspiration?
Elon Musk. He is the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, among others and I admire him for three reasons. One, he started from zero. Booked a one way ticket from South Africa to Canada and gradually started to found his own companies. Second, he dreams big and has a clear vision about his dreams, for example about electric cars and space travels. Yet he works to achieve his goals in a sustained and deliberated manner. Third, he looks at a problem in a completely other way and tries to tackle it differently than others did up until now.
What are the ingredients for the entrepreneur cocktail, according to you?
A pinch of ‘dreams’, two spoons of ‘just do it’ and a kilo of ‘perseverance’. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you will. No doubt about it. But don’t let that hold you from pursuing a dream, it is then that you will need perseverance.
What is your biggest mistake up until now and what did it taught you?
I’ve waited too long. I have been coming up with ideas to start businesses and always investigated them. But when they turned out to be difficult I threw them in the garbage. I’ve read this quote which gets to the essence.
“If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help build theirs.”
I regret waiting so long before pursuing my own dream: starting something of my own.
How do you define success?
Someone who is successful is someone who works hard to accomplish his dreams and vision. This works in two steps. First, you transform your dream into a real plan. Then, you work your way through your plan. And your dreams don’t always have to be as big as Elon Musk’s. Being successful is about working on YOUR path, to accomplish YOUR plan, to fulfill YOUR dream.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear in general?
My greatest fear is failing. But not failing in the sense of ‘making mistakes’, but rather failing in the sense of ‘not working on your dreams’. Society sees ‘making mistakes’ as failing. But it’s not. Making mistakes and ‘failing’, in the narrow sense of the word, is not bad at all. This means you are trying and learning!
Imagine yourself after a certain amount of years looking back at your life and realizing that you didn’t pursue your dreams.. THAT would be horrible.
As Elon Musk says, ‘The things you regret most in life are the things you didn’t do, rather than the things you did do’. That is why, for example, at work I always use short quotes as my computer passwords. For weeks I have been using “justdoit” as a password. Believe me, when you have to type 20 times a day “justdoit”, you just go and do it.
If you had a magic stick, which are the 3 things you would change in the world?
This is a very difficult question. If I could I would change the way people communicate. We only use language and body language. But there are so many filters, and people are not always fully aware of them. Therefore, they are not really understanding what another person is actually saying. I think this is one of the reasons why so many things go wrong, or ‘fail’.
Maybe another thing I would change is that people stop being afraid and just do.
To end, what’s your favorite quote for describing entrepreneurship?
Besides the first quote I gave, which for me is exactly the reason why I am an entrepreneur, the following quote keeps me going every day:
“You will see me struggle, but you will never see me quit.”