After raising £150k via SEIS in 2016 through private equity to launch the brand and products in Tesco, a further £400k coming from AllBright last year, 5 new products launched in 2017 with 4 in plans for this year, Sara Trechman is hoping 2018 is the year that cements Well&Truly in the uber-competitive ‘core snacking’ space.
Well&Truly is now stocked in over 1,600 stores nationwide including Tesco, Booths, Wholefoods, Budgens and Independents throughout London.
How did the idea for Well&Truly come about?
With snacking sales on the up due to consumers change in eating habits, there was a clear gap in this space for a brand that could make better & healthier versions of some of the most loved snacking products we all know.
Whilst in recent years we noticed a flurry of innovative healthy snacks being launched (Kale chips?) often taste was compromised for health credentials. No brand offered better-for-you versions of much loved snacks in popular flavours and traditional formats, so we set out to un-junk & improve the nutritional profiles of snacking classics such as Tortilla Chips and our version of a NikNak whilst not compromising on either taste or health.
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
As a start-up you face challenges on a daily basis. You need to juggle so many roles and tasks which you don’t always have experience in, but being co-founders has helped us a lot as we always have someone to bounce ideas off and challenge each other. One of our biggest early challenges was staying on top of cashflow to make sure we could continue to grow quickly.
You hear horror stories about family going into business, how have you found working with your sister in-law?
Having a co-founder is the best decision we made for Well&Truly as we constantly challenge each other and don’t feel alone. Being sisters in-law adds a layer of complexity but like any business partnership we need to work at it and make sure we are always communicating and sharing our ideas. It has made family events more boring for everyone else as we constantly talk about work!
What is Well&Truly? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Well&Truly is a snacking brand that is challenging the oh-so-clean world of ‘healthy eating’ and the outdated ‘guilty pleasures’ label of mainstream snacks. ‘Better for you' should be about positivity not prohibition. We believe you can have it all healthier snacks that don’t compromise on taste on crunch.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
We raised £150k via SEIS in 2016 through private equity to launch the brand and products in Tesco. Last year we raised a further £400k via EIS which was part private equity and part from the AllBright fund which is a fund that invests in successful, high-potential female-led startups.
What advices would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their start-ups?
Make sure you start this as early as possible it takes much longer than you expect. Also a piece of advice is don’t try to raise capital over the summer (we did) you won’t get any meetings as everyone is away on holiday.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
The first few months were some of the most exciting but also the most stressful. We thought we were going into 300 Tesco stores but when the order came through it was for over 1,000 stores. This really tested our supply chain but we made it with a few tears over Christmas when we thought our product wasn’t going to arrive in time.
How did you initially get traction?
To be honest we were just very lucky. We contacted the buyer at the right time and they didn’t have anything similar in their range. Our Tesco listing was a huge moment for us as it was our first listing and the first time we saw our product on the shelves in store.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
We are now stocked in over 1,600 stores nationwide including Tesco, Booths, Wholefoods, Budgens and Independents throughout London. We have also launched 5 new products in the last year and plan to launch another 4 this year. In January we moved into our first office space and are now a team of 4, soon to be 5.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Our biggest achievement has to definitely be our listing with Tesco. It was one of the most memorable Well&Truly days although it didn’t sink in until we saw our product on shelf – when we literally jumped for joy.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Well&Truly team for 2018?
The next 12 months will be hugely exciting and truly defining for Well&Truly as we embark on the next phase of our journey. We just launched our rebrand which we hope will firmly place us in the uber-competitive ‘core snacking’ space which is a stale category in serious need of a shake up and ‘betterment’. We will be the brand bringing the excitement and growth to this space in 2018, and we couldn’t be prouder of our new look and the fantastic NPD which will hit shelves in a few weeks time!
We are growing our sales & marketing team through direct recruits and by establishing long-term relationships with key freelancers and agencies to support our ambitious growth plans with the retailers. Last year we were selected to join the NatWest Accelerator programme for high potential businesses that are scaling and we will continue to make the most of the ongoing support this offers including a fantastic free office space in the centre of London, top class mentoring and access to specialists in various fields free of charge.
With new branding, extended product portfolio, a growing customer base, increased promotions and several trade campaigns plus an increased international focus we expect sales to triple the next 12 months.
Everything we’ve done in the last couple of years has set us up for phenomenal growth in 2018 and beyond, and it’s really exciting and rewarding that we’re at the stage now where we are starting to see the results of all the hard work over the last few years.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Do it! It’s the best thing we’ve ever done but make sure you have a good network & team around you to help guide you and offer advice when you need it. We both say that we couldn’t do it on our own, being able to share the journey with someone has made all the ups and downs so much better.
Make sure you have a product or idea that you believe in and that you have tested with consumers. If you know it is better than the competition the journey will be so much easier.
Build a good network of other start-ups who you can meet for a chat or coffee. The start-up scene in London is very supportive and always happy to share any advice or tips. We’ve also enjoyed partnering with other start-ups for competitions and sampling to help raise our brand awareness to different consumer groups.