Surviving and thriving: Lockdown success stories

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Mr Lee’s, a healthy noodles-in-a-cup brand, has announced it has hit its £1.75 million funding target, boosting its profile as families look for healthy alternatives during lockdown.

This takes Mr Lee’s total on investment platform Seedrs to £6.5M, with their latest campaign continuing into overfunding to allow more customers to join as shareholders.

It also marks them out as one of the hundreds of companies fighting back against the unprecedented challenges they are facing at he moment.

Hitting their £1.75M investment target less than a week after launching, Mr Lee’s has attracted 220 investors from its customer base.

It has experienced a huge surge in demand in recent weeks with revenue increasing expotetially and new users to their website increasing by similar levels.

The company is the brainchild of Damien Lee, a seasoned entrepreneur who was forced to bounce back from illness when in 2014 when he was diagnosed with stage four chest and stomach cancer and given weeks to live.

Mechelle Clarke
Mechelle Clarke: we continued to add new strings to our bow

Another is Mechelle Clark, the founder of Aberdeen’s first grilled cheese shop and restaurant, Melt Aberdeen. She has adapted her business to offer a delivery service to meet demand for home baking. She is also producing home-baking videos and kits to help keep people entertained.

“As things quietened down, we continued to add new strings to our bow and are pleased that are customers still have great interest in our products, with our cheeseboards-to-go booked up for the next few weeks,” she said.

“By posting my baking pictures on the business’ social media, we’ve also seen a demand for ‘how-to’ videos so are now looking into ‘Bake @ Home’ kits for our brownies.

“I don’t know what the business will look like when things go back to normal but for now, we’re making enough to get by and staying busy which is the most important element for me.”

I learnt early on in starting a business that worrying and panic is a bad use of time and energy

She was one of many entrepreneurs who consulted Start Up Loans – part of the British Business Bank – when adapting their day-to-day operations to keep the money coming in.

Craig Rose, founder of Seaweed and Co, a Tyne and Wear business which sells products made from seaweed is workng with his customers to plan for when the lockdown ends and has developed video presentations and online meeting systems.

“These are incredibly surreal and challenging times, and as a small business it is worrying that such a huge amount of effort is under strain from uncertainty,” he said.

“However, it puts everything into perspective and gives a great time to reflect.  I learnt early on in starting a business that worrying and panic is a bad use of time and energy, and that it should be put into positive thoughts and actions.”

The doctor injecting life into lockdown

 

Sara Roberts, the founder of Healthy Nibbles, a Scottish subscription snack delivery service has adapted her service to deliver to remote workers across the country, instead of offices.

“We’re working hard to innovate and continue thriving through a challenging period,” she said. “While previously, we provided healthy vending machines to customers including Transport for London, we’ve had to enhance our B2C services to ensure individuals across the country are aware of our snack box delivery service.”

The key takeaway for us has been to connect with our customers on a personal level

Mitch Lee, co-founder of Mitch’s Kitchen, an online shop which delivers healthy frozen meals added veg boxes to his menu and saw a 208 per cent sales increase in March compared to the previous year.

“That’s something we could have never imagined to come out of such an awful time,“ said Mitch, from Fareham, Hampshire.

“The key takeaway for us has been to connect with our customers on a personal level. Our social presence has always played a big part in our marketing strategy but during this difficult period we’ve made sure that our content has been very personal.

“The messages of support we’ve received from our customers have been truly heart-warming and kept us going.”

Joseph Munns, founder of the home baking kit manufacturer, Bakedin in Basingstoke, says  demand for his products since lockdown has been “overwhelming”. The business has also enjoyed a 10-fold uplift in daily sign-ups for its monthly subscription service.

“We’ve had to put in a lot of social distance measures in the factory, which has effectively cut our maximum output in half, but given everything that is going on I feel quite fortunate in that we’ve managed to take on more staff at this stage instead of furloughing anyone,” he said.

See also: the doctor injecting life into lockdown