Scratch: Phil Pinnell, Farleigh Hungerford and Alex Neves

The founders of fresh meal company on breaking into Wholefoods and the problems of funding

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Company name: Scratch.
Founders: Phil Pinnell, Farleigh Hungerford and Alex Neves
Age: 25,24,25
Based: North Greenwich
Staff numbers: 4
Date started: Started trading in December 2009.

Tell us what your business does:

We make fresh meal kits.  A box of all the fresh, uncooked ingredients – chopped, washed and weighed – and instructions to cook your meal from scratch.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Having got a little podgy and jaded from microwaveable meals at university, Phil thought that there must be another way to eat.  Phil was looking for a middle-ground between fast microwaveable food and a healthy home-cooked meal.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Phil came up with the meal kit concept and called it Scratch.  We then took it to testing at Whitecross Street Market, Spittalfields, and Cabbages and Frocks Market to see if there was a market for it.  These were strange months marked by 3am trips to buy vegetables and far too much chopping!  We set out to make tasty, healthy, wholesome meals that are cooked by you.  Meals cooked in the time it takes the delivery boy to bring round a pizza …and there’s hardly any washing up!  Our food is unashamedly bold flavoured to be served with friends, someone you fancy or on your lap in front of the telly.  Our meals are healthy in a common sense way – nutritionally balanced meals with fresh vegetables and wholesome ingredients.

What were you doing before starting up?

We were at university.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

We always wanted to do our own thing.  I think we are all attracted to the independence and the creativity of setting up something yourself.

How did you raise the money?

We raised a soft loan from the Princes Trust and put our own money in from friends and family.  We are currently looking for more funding…it’s not an easy process.

How did you find suppliers?

Word of mouth

What challenges have you faced?

It’s all a challenge.  But cash flow is certainly the problem that we underestimated the most.

How have you promoted your business?

An article in the Sunday Times really helped, and also we go to a lot of tradeshows.  We’d probably promote ourselves even more if we had to do it again.

How much do you charge? How did you decide this?

We currently charge around £5 a box depending on the meal.  Our current menu is a vegetable red Thai curry, a Moroccan chicken tagine, a crayfish, tomato and feta pasta and a chicken and chorizo jambalaya.  We decided the cost largely through trial and error.

What would you say the greatest difficulty has been in starting up?

Finding enough funding.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Getting our boxes into Wholefoods Market.

What would you do differently?

We would have looked for more funding earlier.

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

We want to be an established brand with national distribution.

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