Lunchbox London: Naomi Twigden and Anna Pinder
The start-up co-founder talks bootstrapping, moving premises and winning catering jobs at leading events – including the Lord Mayor's Show
Name: Naomi Twigden and Anna Pinder
Company name: Lunchbox London
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 08/08/14
Number of employees: 2
Tell us what your business does:
We are a freshly prepared lunch delivery company. As a team of trained chefs we develop healthy, vibrant lunches and snacks that are delivered to offices in Central London by bicycle couriers. We also cater for whole offices and events. Lunches arrive in our signature brown packaging and are individually labelled to each order.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Having worked in an office in the past I felt that lunch time options in people's locality can become repetitive so we wanted to target this gap and prove that healthy food can be tasty, exciting and filling. As chefs we love creating recipes and the business allows us to do that for work on a weekly basis!
How did you know there was a market for it?
We worked from home for a few months testing our ideas on local offices and asking for feedback. We didn't do any marketing and sales beyond a day of handing out flyers as word-of-mouth has been our main way of generating interest in the business.
Once we saw that people liked the food (and that our home kitchens were too small to supply) we decided to take the leap and move into a commercial space.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was selling salads from a stall at Portobello Market with a friend.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, I come from an entrepreneurial family – my father and brother both run their own businesses and I always felt it was something I wanted to try at some point in my life.
How did you raise the money?
We are self-funded; saving on costs where we can and then re-investing all profits back into the company.
We started by making food on a made-to-order basis so there was very little waste and, as we were cooking from home and delivering ourselves by bike, we didn't have any fixed costs so we were able to save up funds to help get us going in a commercial space.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We're a logistics and service company in essence. We make money through keeping a close eye on our margins and understanding our costs in great detail.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Deciding to move into a commercial space and start paying rent was a huge step for us but one we had to take to allow the business to grow. We kitted out a studio and turned it into a kitchen, which was quite daunting and costly but has been essential to our business.
Through speaking to the local health and safety offices, as well as head chefs we used to work with, we gained understanding into how to kit out a space and are very proud of our kitchen (which we also painted ourselves). We had our food safety inspection recently and received five stars, which provided us with proof that we had done everything right!
What was your first big breakthrough?
We catered for Stylist magazine's Race for Life tent in the Summer, Virgin's Women's Entrepreneur event and the Lord Mayor's Show. These were all incredible experiences where we met some great people and had to pinch ourselves slightly!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Start small and test your idea, and then go for it and see what you can do!
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
We'd love Lunchbox London to be the name in London for producing healthy and vibrant lunches! Fingers (and toes) crossed!