Siansplan: Sian Breslin and Vincent Breslin
Online meal planning system for health and budget-conscious families
Tell us what your business does:
Vincent: We make it as easy as possible for home cooks to provide healthy meals for their families, within budget and without the stress. Our technology represents the future of food from an online point of view.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The idea originally came from my mum Sian, who is co-founder. She is a trained home-economist and runs her own cookery school in Ireland. When the Irish recession hit, her students started looking for help providing healthy meals for their kids rather than fancy ‘cheffy’ dishes. Mum then created a meal plan in colour, which made me realise the huge potential a digital consumer-focused product offered and so I set about porting it online.
How did you know there was a market for it?
First and foremost we were helping to solve a real problem: modern home cooks find it difficult to keep their families healthy. We’re so busy, money is a bit tight and we feel guilty eating unhealthy foods. We carried out extensive research on paper initially then online through beta members. We worked closely with our members to improve our initial offering and continue to do so – we’re growing organically at a fast rate.
What were you doing before starting up?
I had just completed an Msc in Sustainable Energy. I found it difficult to get a job in engineering so decided to focus on my digital interests. I worked in a couple of digital agencies to get some experience and worked on Siansplan.com in my spare time.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Always. I was National Young Entrepreneur in Ireland when I was about 14. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
How did you raise the money?
We raised most within the family and I invested a significant amount of my own savings. We’ve done incredibly well so far and are now in talks for our first round of funding. We’re a solid investment!
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Where to start! The old cliché, “nobody believed our idea was any good” definitely runs true. It amazes me how narrow-minded supposed experts can be. That’s a real challenge for you personally as a business owner. Deep down you know that you have a great idea, but when you’re getting told by some influential people that it’s never going to take off, you begin to doubt yourself – but you have to keep on track. More often than not someone more influential comes along and gets really excited about what you’re doing.
How much do you charge?
You can use Siansplan.com completely free but can sign up for premium packages starting at £3.99/m.
What was your first big breakthrough?
We’ve been knocking breakthroughs out of the park recently but our first one came when we were featured in a well-respected New York based Food and Tech blog by Danielle Gould of Forbes Magazine. From there we were approached by a major brand which led to talks with celebrity chefs, recipe websites, strategic partners and some fantastic contacts.
More recently we were finalists in Seedcamp London and we are also finalists in the 5th International Computer Cooking Competition in Lyon, hosted in September. The competition rewards innovative solutions that help the home cook.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with positive people and build a team from the start. Chances are you know someone that can help with some aspects of your business. You probably can’t do it all yourself. Contact as many people as you can, and make sure that a lot of them have influence.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time Siansplan.com will represent how we view food online. We’re the next logical step in recipes as we offer so much more. A one-stop shop for all your cooking needs from recipes, meal plans, shopping lists and shopping online. Exciting!