Just a year ago Helenor & Mike Rogers came up with the idea of FRESH granola along with the name ‘TrooGranola’ – twelve months later they have developed the brand; almost completed the hotly contested Grocery Accelerator programme for Foodie Start Ups; are raising funds on Tesco Backit and are preparing for an Ocado launch in the New Year.
So, what have they learned in the past 12 months?
TrooGranola founder, Helenor Rogers, has identified 5 key learning points:
1. Setting up a foodie business is much easier than you realise
I was delighted when my fussy-eating son Euan was tucking into my carefully nutritionally balanced homemade granola – I never thought I’d see the day when he’d be eating nuts and seeds let alone goji berries! He loved it and said I should sell it and planted a seed in my mind. I’d seen the online fresh coffee businesses seemingly do well; maybe there was an online opportunity for selling fresh granola?
Within days I had researched the market and thought it was worth a shot. I talked to my husband who was immediately right behind me and we decided to make it happen. The name ‘TrooGranola’ came quickly – we registered the company online; got a start-up loan and business bank account; sorted out all the procedures for making food to sell from home and started work on the website. Within weeks the MVP (minimum viable product) was ready to go. This is the easy part.
2. Running a foodie business is much harder than you realise
Once you are set up you need to do everything you can to move it forward. In the early days a foodie entrepreneur has to have many hats – one minute you are refining you product; then you are researching your market to write a business plan; you need to create spreadsheets for your finances and talk to the bank manager. There’s also the health and safety considerations; the liability insurance; packaging design; the VAT regulations etc etc.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. One way to make it easier is to find a partner; it’s tough on your own, it helps to have someone else on board. Another tip is to allocate days to work streams. Monday is marketing; Tuesday is sales; Wednesday is operations for example.
You’ve also got to be resilient and keep on going. Every day you will come across something you don’t know and you’ll learn something new; google will be your friend!
3. You must be unique and fulfil a consumer need
It’s vital that your product is clearly different to everything else on the market – and if it is like something else there must be a strong reason why someone should choose your product over the competition. You’ll be asked many times by potential customers, investors, agencies and even the bank why your product is going to work and you need to be able to explain this simply and concisely.
You also must be fulfilling a need – be giving the end consumer something that they truly want. Do your desk research early to build your hypothesis and test it out by talking to as many real consumers as you can. Go out to festivals and markets and try to sell your product yourself, get real consumer feedback so that you can confidently sell it to stakeholders.
4. It helps to have a strong brand purpose and clear values
Consumers don’t want to just buy a product; they want to buy into a brand that they can relate to. Rarely do consumers become loyal to a product just because of the ingredients or the functionality; usually it’s because they love what the brand stands for and the way the brand fits with their own values. This also applies to other stakeholders who you will need to get involved in your business, be that investors or customers.
Our motto is ‘be troo to yoo’; this reflects our own authenticity and our aim to help others be their best self and show their troo colours. We are driven by our purpose as well as by the all-important profit – this is especially important during the difficult days.
5. Networking is essential
We have met so many interesting, helpful and inspiring people over the past year; one of the best parts of our experience. Look out for events on twitter from Enterprise Nation, your local trade associations or any of the start-up support companies like Grocery Accelerator, Cinnamon Bridge or Kitchen Table Projects – they are often fantastic value for money and you meet great people as well as learning lots. Trade Shows are also a must-attend.
The contacts you meet will be an invaluable source of information, guidance and support – you will not be able to do this on your own. We’ve been delighted that some of our new contacts have supported us on Tesco BackIt, such an honour.
Overall if you are thinking of setting up your own foodie start-up be sure of the opportunity; be ready for a bumpy ride and GO FOR IT!
For more information visit here.