We are excited to have closed our a significant seed investment in Bella and Duke (www.bellaandduke.com) one of the UK’s leading raw pet nutrition businesses.
We have tracked pet nutrition as an interesting area for a number of years, but believe that Bella and Duke have some very interesting defensible qualities and fit with our focus areas of nutrition and food tech.
Bella and Duke (www.bellaandduke.com) founded by friend Mark Scott and Tony Ottley, who were frustrated at the lack of quality meals for their own pets.
We hope to help the team manage the growth by investing in logistics, web and customer recruitment.
We are also very excited to be supporting a business that has come through the Scottish EDGE program.
When we bought back Diet Chef from Piper Private Equity (who are a great investor!) in 2015 we did this to leverage the massive investment we had made in systems and infrastructure (see Andrew’s post on this).
It took us a little longer to move Diet Chef into a couple of adjacent categories and optimise our marketing but we are very pleased with the 2017 financial results which have exceeded our expectations and generated around £1m of EBITDA.
Our growth strategy wasn’t simply focused on generating cash from Diet Chef but more to invest this cash flow in adjacent categories that our infrastructure can serve.
In 2017 we invested and launched Parsley Box (www.parsleybox.com) a reimagined elderly nutrition brand that is growing very strongly against a stagnant revenue comparison of our two larger competitors.
We have achieved this by letting the management team focus almost 100% of their time on customer recruitment and building the team. Move Fresh has provided the logistics and supply chain to allow the scaling of the marketing at a rate most startups would fail to keep operational efficiency at.
So as we get into 2018 we plan to invest in other adjacent areas and to reach the consumer in different channels, one of the reasons we appointed Henrik Pade to our board of directors.
We will both look at doing this organically and through acquisitions if we can find the right ones. Let us know if you think you can help us on this journey, either as an experienced startup founder or if your company would be interested in joining our journey – its going to be fun!
We have had a pretty busy year at Move Fresh, our latest brand to launch is Bean to Door (www.beantodoor.co.uk), a subscription fresh coffee company.
Fine Coffee Club has gone from strength to strength over the last few years but customers have kept asking us about ground and bean coffee. Bean to Door is a separate brand (due to the subscription requirements) and offers freshly roasted coffee directly to your door from £3.95.
In FMCG we believe that price elasticity of demand is clear within all sectors – so we are positioning ourselves closer to supermarket coffee prices with the freshness that only e-commerce can give you.
We soft launched this weekend and already the response has been great. Get your first bag for 50% off using our Move Fresh Discount Code
As 2017 draws to a close and we wait for 2018, I think it’s a great time to reflect on our performance and goals in 2017.
When we bought Diet Chef back in 2015 we planned to make it more of a lifestyle business, but we have really grown to appreciate the expertise, infrastructure and knowledge we have within the group.
We have accelerated the brand creation in 2017 and we are particularly excited about partnering with entrepreneurs at an early stage to provide our infrastructure, knowledge and technology platform to remove some of the hurdles in the early stages of business.
We would love to do more of this in 2018, along with equity investment in FMCG related ideas that have a strong direct to consumer model.
So in 2018, we are considering launching a more formal program for this if this would be of interest to you let us know.
In early 2017 we are launching Prana Protein, this is one of our first steps away from dieting into the broader health and wellbeing category.
We have spent quite a bit of time this year looking at sports nutrition – a sector we have followed since starting Diet Chef in 2008. The sector is definitely in growth but we feel that the lifestyle consumer is badly served. Most online competitors have pushed the market into volume led discounting which does mean that it is very difficult to compete for a new entrant.
Our focus on wholefood nutrition (which has been growing strongly in the US for the last 18 months) is somewhere we are much more comfortable with. Not only is there a large megatrend towards “free from” we are also seeing demand for more natural protein sources (a lot of which taste terrible) so drawing on this we will make sure the brand appeals to the lifestyle consumer within this segment.
We have made very good progress with Diet Now this year and the business is now contributing after the initial investment. Our growth plans for this brand take us further into Europe.
Backend systems such as finance or warehouse management which are commoditised. We buy these systems off the shelf.
Customer facing systems such as mobile apps and our website which are key differentiators. These systems we develop ourselves.
Our own platform runs on Django which is one of the more modern frameworks (incidentally it is also what Ocado use). We are delighted to announce that we are supporting Django by sponsoring the Django: Under the Hood conference in Amsterdam, 3-4 November 2016. We do think it is important that commercial users of open source software put something back into the community.