52: Energy Bars – Interview with Christine Spliid from Crobar

Today we feature a truly unusual business! Christine Spliid from Gathrfoods.com offers energy bars with a twist!

crobars

What kind of business do you run? When did you start it and where is it based?

I launched the first insect-based food product in the UK, Crobar, in spring 2015. You could call it a ‘disruptive’ business, as I’m introducing a new protein source which people in the West haven’t eaten before, so I am literally trying to change people’s perceptions and mindsets. I am based in London, and work from home.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I have been into health foods for years, and love snacking on new, healthy products. I also love travelling, and it was on my trip to Cambodia that I first tasted insects. After some research into the health benefits, I realised how much more there is to the story, in terms of the huge environmental benefits if we could introduce insects in Western diets on a bigger scale. This is what fascinates me so much and makes this so worthwhile. By launching Crobar I’m trying to make healthy, innovative products, and I’m also giving back and starting something which could benefit the whole planet in the long run.

What is your daily routine of running your business?

Other than no two days ever being the same, I obviously spend a lot of time on my laptop writing emails. I work mostly from home, but have meetings all over London several times a week. I tend to wake up, check emails, go for a jog, then meetings and more emails. I also like to sit in cafes and work from there sometimes.

What are the best and worst parts of running your business?

The best bit is deciding what you want to do and when. If you don’t feel like doing something, you can just do it tomorrow. The worst part is that when things go wrong you feel isolated and don’t know who to turn to because no one knows the business as well as you do.

What would you recommend new entrepreneurs? How to get started?

On the one hand I’d say do your research, seek out people who know more than you and learn from them. On the other hand, you also have to just dive into it and do it and take a chance. Too much thinking can mean you make up excuses for not doing it. It’s a fine balance.

You know you’re an entrepreneur when …

All you want to talk about is your work, it’s the first and the last thing you think about in a day.

Any books about entrepreneurship you can recommend?

I love reading biographies about other entrepreneurs who have become successful business people. It inspires you and you realise they have been through some tough times as well, probably tougher than you. Currently I’m reading the biography of Elon Musk, it’s pretty interesting.

What are your future plans for the company?

I want to launch more insect based food products, such as crackers, chips, bread, pasta. The opportunities to use cricket flour are limitless!

What’s your fondest memory working on this business?

The best memory is when the first Crobar came our of the production line. To see something you have been working on for months become a reality was amazing, and I felt very proud.

To learn more about Christine’s business please visit gathrfoods.com.

46: Pitta Chips – Interview with Sophie Harvey from Soffle’s

Today we interview Sophie Harvey from Soffle’s.  I tried her chips at an exhibition in London, Olympia. I loved the chips so I thought I asked her for an interview and she gladly obliged!

chips

What inspired you to start the business? Tell us about your background!

I started making pitta chips at home for friends to have with beers and dips, everyone loved them so I thought that everyone needed to try them, I started making a bit of a project out of it, designing a bag, making stories about my adventures then popping up at events with a tray. Bit by bit I started doing more events then had a small run of hand sealable bags made with my logo. This meant I could take them to my local Hackney pubs as this was the start of getting them out there. The inspiration has always been how much people have liked them and the enthusiasm about the brand that made me want to turn it into something. It was great to be able to make something that everyone enjoyed so much.

Previously I had worked for an Auction House and then onto a Art Gallery in London. I studied Fine Art for my BA so great to use my artwork for the brand as that was really the starting point of Soffle’s.

What is your USP?

There are so many! But these are my top 3:

1. The famous Soffle CRUNCH!!!!

2. Our ingredients is all FRESH! We bake this into the dough then oven roast with olive oil rather than using powdered extracts for flavours which is extremely important for the way our pitta chips taste.

3. They are so versatile! They pair up perfectly with a beer, hummus, fresh avocado, tzatziki, soup, salad, cheese……..basically you can have them with anything! A home staple in fact.

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Sophie Harvey

What was your biggest challenge setting up your business?

It has all been super challenging but always in completely different ways. At the beginning the physical labour and endless hours of producing the product was very hard and self motivation was key to this period and then upscaling and changing the way I had always thought I wanted to run the business was also very challenging As I pretty much worked alone until a few months ago every aspect was something that I needed to manage. So from doing the accounts, being a salesperson, artwork designer, making deliveries or roasting the chips it can become hard to focus or get things done as well or as organised as you would like them to be which can become quite frustrating.

What is your advice to new entrepreneurs? How to get started?

Just start, make it happen. There is definitely a lot to be said for planning and working out how you are going to do things but ultimately you need to get into action asap. Time can pass very quickly without anything happening and it can be possible to miss opportunities. I definitely didn’t do enough planning as it wasn’t something at first I planned to make into a business so all my time was spent in production and working out how I could increase the production. I also worked for a long time before I decided to give up my job which made it very hard to get to the next stage as time was so limited, if you think it will work and have good reason to think it will then put 100% in as soon as possible. It can become very tiring if you are dragging something out and not having the time to work out how you can make it work.

Ask for advice from everyone you can. Again something I didn’t do until about a year ago as I was so busy in production it was very hard to get out and about. As soon as I did I started to really learn how things worked. Always have in mind the key stages that you are going to need to make the business work. Understand what roles can be done by others so you can then focus on the next stage.

Are there any business books you recommend?

Not yet, next on the list start reading business books!

What is your favourite flavour?

Chilli & Garlic WILD, super HOT made with fresh scotch bonnets its comes with a warning and best in the pubs!

What are your future plans for the company?

Our chips are being introduced to selected Waitrose this month so we are really excited to work on that. In the early days of roasting chips in a garden shed it was something i had always hoped for and of course i always thought it would happen but the reality of it actually happening is a time to think back to the days when I spent endless hours in a shed roasting pitta chips!

But the main focus is all about having our chips with the beers in the pub and the breweries. It is what I made them for and for me is the best environment to be part of.

What is the best business decision you’ve ever made?

Move out of the shed!

For more information about Sophie’s pitta chips please visit Soffles.com.

45: Kefir – Interview with Natasha Bowes from Bio-tiful Dairy

This time we interview Natasha Bowes from Bio-tiful Dairy. She runs a Kefir company and has even pitched inside the famous Dragons’ Den in Season 13 Episode 11. If you haven’t heard of Kefir – it’s basically a super healthy milk drink packed with billions of gut-friendly bacteria. Personally I recommend the Honey & Mint flavoured version Bio-tiful Dairy offers – so try it out if you have the chance!

Natasha Head Shot

What kind of business do you run? When did you start it and where is it based?
We make the tastiest, highest quality organic Kefir in the UK. I started Bio-tiful Dairy in 2012.

What inspired you to start this business?
I missed Kefir since leaving Moscow 17 years ago, and could not find good quality Kefir in London. I felt there was a market need for this genuinely healthy and entirely natural dairy drink here!

Lifestyle Kefir Smoothies 250ml landscape

What is your daily routine of running your business?
I typically work 8am to 7pm (occasionally starting earlier and finishing later), with little breaks for exercise!

What are the health benefits of kefir?
It is the best thing for your digestion and immunity, and I find it is amazingly useful for weight management! This is just the tip of the iceberg, the full list is much longer.

What was the hardest part of setting up this business? What are the challenges of a FMCG business?
Making the decision, in the context of family life and business risk assessment! There are plenty of challenges: it is non-stop and the margins in fresh food don’t allow you to sit back and relax 🙂

How does Riazhenka compare with kefir?
It is so creamy and luxurious, very satisfying if you like intense yet refreshing taste.

What was your experience like at “Dragons’ Den”? Looking back do you think it was the right decision to reject Deborah Meaden’s offer?
It was an amazing experience – exhilarating and educational in equal amounts. The decision was most certainly right, as I have subsequently attracted a larger investment on better terms.

You know you’re an entrepreneur when …
It does not come up in your head as a question of choice between going out or working, if you have a business goal to achieve.

To learn more about Natasha’s Kefir company please visit Bio-tifuldairy.com.

Lifestyle Granola Landscape