Scrumbles: Aneisha Soobroyen
Name: Aneisha Soobroyen
Company Name: Scrumbles
Date Launched: 01/06/18
Which university did you attend? University of Bath
We're talking cats and dogs as Startup pet food guru, and registered B Corp business owner, Aneisha Soobroyen shares her startup journey struggles and successes, plus how furry friends, Smudge and Boo, have helped along the way.
Tell us what your business does:
Scrumbles is on a mission to make healthier, more ethical food for cats and dogs.
We make natural, nutritious pet food that's available across the country through national retailers and fab independent pet stores.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I started my career in pet food almost 10 years ago and fell in love with the industry and the animals of course, but was frustrated with the quality of the product. I always felt there must be a better way to do things and seeing my own pets suffer with sensitivity to a well known brand was the catalyst to do it for myself.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Pet parents are increasingly aware and more concerned about the health and wellbeing of their pets. Equally, shoppers are becoming more conscious about their environmental impact. Put the two together and you get the fundamentals of Scrumbles.
I've had a strong sense that the market was moving this way for some time, but the data backs it up too!
What were you doing before starting up?
I was leading a small ethical tea company called We Are Tea, which was a great training ground for Scrumbles. The product is very different but there's huge overlap. I was able learn first hand how to lead a team and how to market a brand. Although nothing quite prepares you for doing it for yourself!
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes absolutely. My husband and I have long been determined to build a business together. Here goes!
How did you raise the money?
We've just raised £150k under SEIS. Working in food and drink enabled us to tap into some of our network to get us started but the largest investments came through investors we approached directly.
We looked up other like-minded brands who had recently raised money, or sold and approached their shareholders. We got a great reception and went to pitch to a handful of individuals who were keen to support.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
As a product-led business, the basics are simple – make a great product, shout about it and sell it. The reality of course is more complex than that as every shopper has there own needs, and wants to know a lot about the brand they choose. Then there is managing the suppliers, our retailers and everything in between!
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
As a new business every day brings a new challenge. One of our first was being threatened with court over our name – we were originally called Smudge and Friends (named after our dog) and despite having the trademark we clashed with a private label manufacturer who stake a claim to the name Smudge.
It was tough at the time as we had become so attached and it was embedded in our business. Despite that, we didn't have the resources to fight it out and ultimately had to be pragmatic.
We're now called Scrumbles and I think it's a better name after all, but that's easy to say with hindsight. The big lesson there was to be pragmatic and agile. I think we got the best result we could have given the circumstances.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Aside from raising funds, our biggest breakthrough was landing Ocado. It immediately enabled us access to a huge number of shoppers and retail under a universally known brand.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Do your homework and get to know your market as best you can before launch. Then when you do go for it, accept the fact that you will make mistakes and that's OK, just be sure to learn from them!
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
In five years time Scrumbles will be nationally established as the leading natural brand of cat and dog food in the UK, as well as being widely available across Europe.