I began Sweetpea Pantry (which is the premium, healthy version of a Betty Crocker baking mix), with my best friend Tanya who I’ve known since the age of 5.
My first tip never believe anyone who says doing a business with your friend doesn’t work – it is the best combination possible, and the support of a second founder is invaluable, but you do have to be aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to not hold any anger or disappointment against the other.
We have had an exciting and positive journey so far. We got our first listing with Ocado before we’d even launched the retail product (our second lesson, from Richard Reed of Innocent fame was don’t wait until your product is perfect – just launch and fix it up on the way!)
That same year Richard Branson picked us as his ‘Best Loved Kids Food Brand’ in a start-up event run by Virgin which got us a host of PR and importantly gave us confidence that we were on the right track.
Lesson 3: I would definitely recommend entering as many awards and competitions as possible to raise your profile, meet important mentors and give yourself confidence. We raised funds from an investor group after a Dragon’s Den appearance which sadly got left on the cutting room floor (possibly because we didn’t create enough drama in the room) but that experience set us up to prepare ourselves for pitching to investors who do manage to find every hole in your business or proposition and our
Lesson 4: Hold out for investment as long as possible but know it will take 10 times longer to get it than you thought! We’ve since got listings in most of the major independent stores and most recently into Sainsbury’s. But that’s all outward and inwardly we are struggling to raise a profile among consumers and get known.
We need some powerful and influential people talking about our products so that everyone stands up and takes notice! If anyone has any connections or experience in this area I would love to speak to you! And very happy to pass on any knowledge and help anyone along their start-up journey…