EarlyBird: Oliver Pugh

Described as Graze's 'cooler brother', EarlyBird's founder talks launching a Crowdcube campaign, building a lovable brand and going after a piece of the £40m plus market

Name: Oliver Pugh
Company name: EarlyBird
Location: Greater London 
Date launched: 01/09/2014
Website: www.earlybird.fm

Tell us what your business does:

We deliver awesome snack boxes to customers across the UK; we’ve been described as Graze.com’s cooler, younger brother.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I used to share an office with a friend in my hometown of Northampton. One day we got talking about his Graze box and decided that we could do it better. We came up with a concept of bringing food, art and music together in one product and that has become the EarlyBird TasteBox.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Our research showed the market leader in this industry turned over £40m in 2013 and has continued to grow. Nobody is attempting to compete with them and from our initial consumer research their is a real hunger for something different.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was running my own events company in Northampton, before that I was studying business with economics and graduated with a 2:1.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I’ve always had a desire to make my mark on the world. I didn’t think it was possible with an events company and I see EarlyBird as being my best opportunity to do this yet.

How did you raise the money?

I have used personal savings so far but recently launched an investment round on Crowdcube in hope of raising £75,000.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Our model is one of subscription, with our TasteBox avaliable weekly, fortnightly or monthly. The success of our business depends on our ability to retain customers and generate LTV (long term value). We believe the best way to do this is to build a brand customers will love and want to tell the world about.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Our initial investor dropped out after attempting to take over 50% of the voting rights in the company. This all happened three days before I had two team members starting so I had to convince them to work for a lower salary. Fortunately they accepted and we’ve now built the foundations of a strong business.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Our first paying customer: the process of shipping this first TasteBox to that customer and them telling us how much they loved it and that they had told all their friends about it.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Dream big and keep moving forward.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Hopefully I’ll be launching my next venture after having built EarlyBird into a known consumer brand and having put an amazing team in place that can look after it while still keeping the culture creative and fresh.

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