ChicP is the brainchild of Hannah McCollum who is combining her knowledge of food waste and her nine years working as an international private chef into building the food startup. ChicP creates a variety of delicious, unique sweet and savoury hummus from surplus and imperfect fruit and vegetables in London with the aim of solving the food waste problem.
In the interview below, Hannah talks about how she’s managed to build the two year start-up so far.
Hi Hannah, thanks for agreeing to share your story on YHP. Can you give us some background information about yourself?
The inspiration behind ChicP is my passion to change attitudes to the way we approach cooking and waste... a chef turned entrepreneur.
Food waste is part of modern life, but it need not be this way. ChicP’s ethos is to be part of the drive to encourage people to think differently about the way they eat.
Over the last nine years, I’ve cooked for families in the UK and all over Europe, predominantly as a private chef. I would often convert leftover Middle-Eastern inspired vegetable dishes into dips for the next meal. Every day the question would be “what’s the dip of the day Hannah”?!
While working for catering & events companies, I would witness the colossal volumes of food wasted. This combined with my love for healthy, fresh food, using local ingredients and creating new dishes from the food we already have in our homes, gave me the clear vision for ChicP.
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
The early days consisted of a house smelling of popcorn from constantly boiling chickpeas ready for the orders or events I was doing.
For the first 8 months, production occurred at home before moving to a manufacturer.
It was quite exhausting cooking from home and I got very tired of having to try it all the time! However the two biggest challenges I faced was my shelf life and then finding a manufacturer.
What is your company? And what are you trying to solve with it?
ChicP is a company which creates a variety of delicious, unique sweet and savoury hummus from surplus and imperfect fruit and vegetables in London. We are trying to help solve the food waste problem by supporting British Farmers, collecting excess fruit and veg from London markets for events while educating people about food waste and helping to eat and live more sustainably… while also creating a healthier and delicious houmous.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
I have self-funded ChicP so far, using the money from my cooking jobs and then the revenue from sales.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
Tricky one… exciting but with so many things going on all the time (juggling every aspect of running a business on your own), there were the occasional sleepless nights, thinking about all the different things that needed doing . There were wonderful moments where I received great feedback from meeting people at various events or samplings and a lot of “keep doing what you do” which was a huge help to maintaining a positive attitude and made ChicP keep going!
It was also very satisfying when I saw people buy the product. Knowing that I had a plan and an ethos I was passionate about, this enabled me to continue the journey.
How did you initially get traction?
The first event I attended was Farehealthy at Borough Market. If it hadn’t been for the two lovely organisers who accepted us, I wouldn’t have received the feedback from 1000’s of people who attended. They exceeded my expectations with love and compliments for the brand. This is where ChicP received our first exposure, where we had our first fans and this enabled ChicP to exhibit at other events and approach our first retailers.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Perseverance, being positive and remembering why I started (my ethos) . Passion is key and because I love the products and am devoted to helping combat food waste, with these combined, this has enabled me to grow ChicP.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Getting into Wholefoods was one of the highlights and biggest step for the business in the first year.
What should we be expecting from yourself and your team for the rest of 2018?
With only two months… a new flavour and some exciting events!
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1. Research your market… the shelves are becoming more saturated and it’s getting more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd.
2. You need to have a key USP (and sustainability is also very important!)
3. Love your product and your story. If you don’t, you’ll get sick of it quite quickly and this will show