Brown says: “I wrote the business plan and I went to discuss it with Rich, Adam and John who were really positive about the idea. They had really wanted to do something with food until they decided against it.
“For them I think it felt a lot like unfinished business. Finance also came from private investment from contacts that I’d made in my 14 years in the industry.”
Despite receiving private funding and business support from KPMG, the brand is still a start-up which means they don’t have a huge budget to compete with rivals in the fast-food sector. While employees have unique experiences, all those working on the project need to be willing to have a hands-on approach to working life.
According to Ed Duguid, head of commercial finance, this is one of the most exciting aspects of working for the brand: “One of the great things with small business is that there’s the opportunity to muck in and get your hands dirty. We’ll be on the streets handing out samples and meeting customers.
“The main barrier I tend to find is that, because we’re all passionate, we have to be really careful about making the right priority calls and focusing energies in the right place when there’s so much you want to do creatively.”
Brown says it’s vital to remain focused if the company is to succeed long term. “There is a lot of practical stuff we need to consider,” he says. “We need to make sure that everything happens at the right time so its important to make sure the team is ready, that we have the right space or that the packaging is done – if one of those areas isn’t ready, then everything falls down.”
Maintaining focus has also allowed Bol to build a strong relationship with large stores – despite the fact that it is such a young brand. In the grocery sector, there are only a few periods in the financial year where supermarkets are open to making purchasing decisions. When Bol was founded, Brown had a strong idea of the time-scale the businesses needed to develop by in order to fit in with the buying process.
He said: “With supermarkets you don’t get a second chance. For us it was all about which window we were going to go for and that was the April/May 2015 window - that’s what we lined up to go for.”
“There’s not a lot of space in supermarkets and there are a lot of companies vying for those spaces. It is important not only that you can create a product that will definitely sell, but you are consistent about the service that you provide.”
“We’ve taken a great idea and created great products on scale and then gone out there and spoken to supermarket buyers and they are giving us a shot. The thing is that in the sector we are playing in, most products are from big companies. We’re a start-up so its great that they have supported us.”
In the next instalment of our Bol Food series, we find out about the company’s ethos, and branding…