Supper: Duncan Scott

The entrepreneur tells us why establishing a start-up that needed external funding was a goal and how their business model safeguards quality

Name: Duncan Scott 
Company name: Supper 
Location: Greater London 
Date launched: 13/08/15 
Website: www.supper.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

Supper is a free mobile app that gives busy professionals and families easy access to homemade meals that get delivered to their doorsteps. Behind Supper is a growing team of chefs and cooks who are passionate about food. They all create their own recipes, source their own ingredients, and cook the meals in their own time and in their own kitchens.

We have strict nutritional criteria as it’s important we deliver food that is healthy, and all chefs and cooks that are part of our portfolio are certified in food hygiene and safety, ensuring top-quality for every single meal.

Our chefs and cooks work hand in hand with our network of drivers, who deliver the dishes directly to our customers at a time that suits them. All of the food comes hot and ready to eat ensuring maximum convenience whilst not compromising on quality.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I was always busy at work and most days I would leave the house in the morning not knowing what I would have for dinner. The idea for Supper came about after I noticed the lack of healthy, nutritious convenience food available, and I became frustrated with regularly ordering takeaways or buying the same ready meals from supermarkets on the commute home.

I really enjoy cooking from scratch and will do it as often as I can, but it’s difficult and time consuming. I don’t think there is a substitute for a good home-cooked meal, but unless you have the time to cook it yourself, it’s just not always an option the majority of the time.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I was aware that my situation was not an exception, but the reality for most of us: As a nation, we are now working longer hours than ever before, have busier social calendars and more obligations that occupy our time and energy. As a result, we’ve become far too reliant on takeaways, ready-meals, fast food and sandwiches – none of which have a reputation for being nutritious, desirable or particularly high in quality.

At the same time, there is an ever-growing market for healthy eating and trying new, exciting dishes. Supper taps into both of these trends at the same time.

What were you doing before starting up?

My background is in economics, however I’ve always had a passion for food. For the past five years, I worked for a wealth management firm in Mayfair. I began in financial sales before setting up a few of my own teams in the company and by the end I was overseeing corporate strategy and client experience.

So though this is quite a leap for me in terms of sectors, the skills I have learned stand me in good stead and I am extremely excited.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

100%. I have always been very driven and passionate about my work, and I want to use that enthusiasm for something that I can be proud of and shape.

The little milestones and achievements you make with something that you have started mean so much more to me than just being a cog in an established business model.

How did you raise the money?

It was important that when I started a business, it was one that required external funding. That might sound odd, but I knew that requiring external investment protected me against starting a business solely because I thought it was a good idea.

To fund this business we raised capital through SEIS and EIS schemes with a venture capital investor for a percentage stake in the business.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We essentially supply the platform and delivery mechanism for our chefs to sell their dishes. We take care of advertising, marketing and all of the admin stuff so they can do what they enjoy which is cooking.

We work on a revenue split with chefs for each dish sold, which means all our interests are aligned in delivering the most customers to each chef as possible.

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

Every stage of starting a business comes with challenges, from conception and ensuring your business will actually work, through to getting funding and then building the app and having it fit for purpose for your business.

Most recently we had some issues with the app that meant we had to delay launch slightly, which was annoying, but it’s better to iron everything out before starting than having a product that customers don’t like or can’t use.

What was your first big breakthrough? 

Every new customer we get is a breakthrough and every customer that comes back to us is a bigger breakthrough. Getting customers through the journey from finding out about you, to downloading the app and placing an order is not easy, especially in a crowded market place so for us, that first customer and that first repeat order caused for some celebrations in the office!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

I think the most important piece of advice to anyone with an idea is don’t be precious about asking for external help. You can’t be a master of everything, your job as the ‘CEO’ is to have a broad understanding of all the components but don’t try and do everything. For example, me not coming from a hospitality background, I would be foolish to think I understood chefs, and the food industry inside out. One of the first things I did was team up with some hospitality consultants and together we did a feasibility study on the business and the result was that we took the initial idea and improved the offering 10 fold.

Throughout this whole process my philosophy has been to take a bit extra time and perhaps a little more money to get it right rather than think I have all the answers myself.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time

I truly believe we have a great service and the initial feedback from customers has been really good. Though at the moment we have launched in South West London, our ambition is to become a normal way of eating your evening meal for as many people as possible.

We aim to firstly expand around London and commuter hotspots before assessing which other towns and cities would really benefit from this, both here and abroad.

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