My Grandad once said “Boy – when you grow up you want to get into Food, Haircuts or Coffins” he carried on “they are the only sure things people are going to want forever!”
Not satisfied that haircuts or coffins would be quite my thing – albeit, I could think of ways to drum up business when the chips were down – Food became my everything.
Now the Food space is a pretty busy place – other people must have had that same advice – so I thought “What is missing? What needs fixing? What can I improve on to make Food better? What do people actually want?” Bent on a mission to control my own destiny I set about scouring the supermarkets, reading up on food trends, talking to friends and family and playing with ideas.
Some people say you make your own Luck. Luck, for me, became central to the business plan. We were going to need to go into full production of Luck. On reflection, looking back over the adventure so far, I discovered a number of aphorisms provided ingredients to Luck: 1. Necessity is the greatest motivator – being the provider to a young family has a profound impact.
2. Failure is a good thing – if I can overcome this fear I am more likely to try new things 3. People buy people – cut the crap and surround yourself with great people 4. Don’t rest on laurels – leave that for the basking Ancient Greeks
5. Enjoy the journey – today, tomorrow and the next day it’s a thing called life 6. Luck favours the Backbone not the Wishbone – a quote my mum used to harp on about 7. Learn from the greats – starting with mum 8. Oh and never trust lists that stop at 10 So we set about making Luck – as much as we could. Bundles of the stuff, oozing with juicy richness.
We were going to be Super, really Super. So with the business plan sorted we needed some really Super Products. What makes products Super? Why will people buy them? Why would supermarkets put them on their shelves? Who is going to actually make them in quantity? Ehh – how am I going to afford this? Everyone I spoke to said you need loads of money to launch a Food product and supermarkets will demand their pound of flesh – “that’s if they will even agree to meet you” they warned.
I didn’t have much money and limited flesh – but I also didn’t want to borrow any either – this was to be my destiny controlled by me. I would need to box clever. Mastering of the fine art of negotiation began for me in the playground at school.
The human being is a curious thing but much like magicians have figured, they are very predictable and are fraught with emotion.
On the whole, most people (who are human) share universal persuasive apprehensions such as: 1. The ego – the best instrument in the band 2. Indifference – naturally people are suspicious and prefer to sell to themselves, especially if they think it was their idea in the first place 3. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) – a very real malady that requires a venomous remedy. And perhaps the very basis of Facebook’s success 4. Top 10 lists – an age old marketing gimmick invented around the time of The Commandments that makes stuff sound official.
So with a rucksack packed with a good dose of Luck, an amazing Team and a cheeky go-get-em attitude, I merrily skipped off into the great unknown of the Food world surrounded by aircraft carrier-sized brands and Goliath shops that seem to pretend to like you on their websites.
The important part of lying down in the path of opportunity is to know what to do with it when it comes along.
We didn’t really but we certainly felt it when it hit. A combination of the following happened ‘in real time’ and you couldn’t have written it: 1. A huge Swedish packaging company was wanting to take on the Tin Can in the UK with a far more efficient, environmental and modern carton 2. The long-life soup category had been declining for years as younger generations sought more modern looking alternatives 3. Gargantuan soup brands had too much capital tied up in Tin Can production to make a change. And innovation was as slow as molasses 4. These younger generations were wanting much more from their soup. Interesting natural flavours; less water more substance; functionality (especially more protein) and less naughties like salt and sugar A perfect storm was brewing. With daredevil tenacity and unflappable speed we were introduced to a factory (in Italy – the only one in Europe with a machine) by the packaging company.
Within a number of weeks we had arranged some samples and were sat in front of supermarket buyers presenting our new brand. In mid-2015 we launched our range of protein packed IAM SOUPER Soups.
In early 2016, another opportunity hit us head on, as we prised open the innovation door with our supermarket buyers. During a team meeting a talented relative cooked up some kind of Otolenghi style mixed grain salad with sweet potato and chorizo. A Eureka moment accrued and a new range ensued.
IAM SUPER GRAINS emerged as our next exciting launch.
I will be criticised for being biased but they really are awesome. “What else can we disrupt?” we pondered with naive glee.
In September 2016, we launched a four strong range of high protein IAM SUPER Baked Beans into supermarkets making our range up to 12 innovations.
‘Never rest on your laurels’ and ‘let’s hope this is not one of those failures’ – rings in my ears every day – I do keep thinking “Well I guess there are always Coffins or maybe Haircuts to fall back on”.