Packed Munches: Fiona Timba

Founder Fiona Timba shares the light bulb moment for her subscription service start-up filling “the hole in British expat’s stomachs”

Name: Fiona Timba
Age: 27
Company Name: Packed Munches
Staff numbers: 1
Location: Birmingham
Date Launched: 18/10/2013
Website: www.packedmunches.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

Packed Munches is a monthly subscription service sending boxes of British food to expats and Anglophiles across the globe.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I have studied and worked abroad for the last four years. The light bulb moment came when I was homesick whilst studying abroad. I was missing British snacks so my best friend Sabrina sent me a box of British food which couldn’t be bought abroad. I shared these with other British students and soon after that Packed Munches was born, quickly filling the hole in British expat’s stomachs.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Experience and market research. Having found that the only options for expats were specialised expat shops in some countries (but often only in one major city) and online expat supermarkets which often trebled the prices of products in addition to postage charges I quickly realised that there was a market. We surveyed our target audience to find out if this was something they were interested in and here we are.

What were you doing before starting up?

I had just completed a traineeship with the European Commission. Prior to that I studied a Master’s degree in law in the Netherlands.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes. My parents had their own businesses when I was younger and have always encouraged me and my siblings to do the same.

How did you raise the money?

We’ve predominantly bootstrapped, although we won a Shell Livewire Award in November 2012.

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

The biggest challenge has actually been recurring payments. Even though it’s become more regular there are still very few plug-ins and payment gateways that allow you to offer recurring billing at a reasonable cost. The majority are based in the US and many developers are unfamiliar with how to work with the software resulting in higher costs!

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We use the subscription service business model. We buy the food at wholesale to ensure that we are able to charge roughly the same prices as you would buy them for in the UK and still make a profit.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Our first customer! It wasn’t family or friends but purely organic which was amazing, especially as we haven’t paid for any advertising yet.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Just do it. Don’t wait until you have the perfect product as you’ll always want to make changes. Obviously it can pay dividends to do the right market research and ensure your product is viable but if you can start simply without a high initial outlay go for it. We procrastinated a lot before we launched even though we had done the market research and knew it was a good idea.

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

Heading up an international branch of Packed Munches!

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