Posted: Wed 29th Nov 2023
In November 2022, Oliver bought the business after it acquired a substantial loss over two years.
Shroot creates eco-friendly, biodegradable greeting cards that come with everything you need to grow microgreens, including the pot – just add water. It's a gift, card, experience and snack all in one.
"Winning the Enterprise Nation competition feels unreal! It's a huge nod to the hard work we've put into Shroot and our dedication to a greener future.
"This prize isn't just funds – it's belief in our vision. We're buzzing with excitement and can't wait to see where this journey takes us next."
Did you always want to own a business?
Business has always been at the core of my life. I've been making, growing, selling, failing and buying businesses since I was 13. My family has always known this is what I'm going to do and that's how it has turned out.
I've always had this inkling that the internet is massive and there's a market for everything. You can make money doing anything.
How have you grown Shroot since buying it?
It was a lockdown business that the previous owners started on Etsy and then pivoted to bring out this unique product.
The main obstacle they must have faced was their unit cost price. It was costing them £2.56 per pouch. I then tried to find different suppliers and brought it down to £0.60, plus VAT. I knew then that this was a feasible business.
I bought the business for £8,650. Although there was a financial hiccup when settling on the price, we luckily managed to resolve it. I then invested a further £15,000 into stock and managed to get the cost price down to £0.35, plus VAT.
We've since collaborated with Vodafone on two campaigns for Mother's and Father's Day, moving over 15,000 units and have established our presence in over 180 stockists throughout the UK.
Can you outline some of the challenges you've faced trying to turn around a failing business?
The unknown has always been the main challenge. You can't fully rely on what people say but I don't see this as a problem. I enjoy the whole problem-solving aspect.
I have been doing this since I was a teenager, and the good thing about buying a failing business is that you've found a way that the business did not work and that is a learning point.
When buying a business, as long as you do your due diligence at the beginning, it's going to be okay. You may learn a few lessons, but it's not going to be a Titanic story. As long as you've asked the right questions, and they've given you truthful answers, which if they haven't, then a good business sales agreement will get your money back.
One of the biggest challenges I've had with this business is educating the market. No one knows what it is because it has never been done before. Also, then translating that into our packaging as I am not always going to be there to explain it.
So unless this goes mainstream, it is going to be an obstacle. The good thing is with the Vodafone campaigns for Mother's and Father's Day and a Christmas campaign coming up, we're getting into more people's hands, so we're able to educate the market in that way. This has led to a lot of recurring sales too.
What do you look for in a business you want to buy?
There are a few things. It has to be:
Failing. The reason is because you can get it cheaper. If they've lost money, then you can write it off and save on corporation tax when you actually make a profit.
A good product. Normally when a business is failing, it is not because it's a bad product. Some businesses will fail because fundamentally, they are not supposed to survive. That's unfortunately just the way it is. But if it's a product, it could be something as simple as the cost price.
Eco-friendly. Ideally, it's an eco-friendly business because that's very on-brand at the moment. By buying other eco businesses that are failing, I can bolt them onto Shroot. We're currently in 180 UK independent shops and garden centres and stocked at the Cotswold Fayre, which supplies another 2000 retailers. So, we have that supply chain and an existing outreach to stockists.
How has Enterprise Nation helped in your business journey?
I have never been someone to network but since buying Shroot I have come out of my shell.
I was speaking to someone and they were talking about grants in general, and how much value Enterprise Nation had offered their business, not just in grants but also with like-minded people, who loved talking business. I knew this was the place I needed to be.
Enterprise Nation has become more than just a platform for us, it's part of our growth story. It's crazy how much value, wisdom and knowledge you can get from just signing up for free. It has been invaluable to my business.
@helloshroot Well.. here goes £8,650. Buying a failing business pt. 1 (of hopefully many!) #smallbusiness #failingbusiness #watchmegrow ♬ Positive Vibes - Soundbeaver
What’s next for the business?
A day before I officially bought the business I set up a TikTok page, and my first video outlined how I was going to turn this business from a failing into a profitable one.
I have a full-time day job as a project manager that pays well. I am not in it for the money. For me, this business is to do social and environmental good.
I come from a family of teachers, so we are already doing outreach for schools. We have these clear, eco-friendly and sustainable pouches that the kids can draw on. They come with five lesson packs that schools can buy either 50, 100 or 200 packs. With it comes a heat sealer, all the equipment and a USB with the five lesson plans that will teach the kids about entrepreneurship and business.
The kids will have an Excel spreadsheet, where they put in the cost and have to figure out how much they need to sell it to make money. The school too can profit through sales as each kid will draw on the pouch.
I don't take any money out of the business. The second part is that a portion of the profits will go towards buying land around the UK that we're just going to let rewild to become beautiful wildflower meadows. This is because land ain't going nowhere and it is the right thing to do. As much land as we can reserve for the wild the better.
I am also looking at bringing out a grow-your-own subscription box for Shroot, which aims to bring recurring revenue. I will also be looking at marketing spend as launching a subscription box is a very marketing-heavy model.