Posted: Fri 17th Aug 2018
Here's another super inspiring story of an Enterprise Nation member. Meenesh Mistry, co-founder of Wholey Moly, managed to take his healthy cookie brand from a made-at-home product to the shelves of iconic store Selfridges in only two years!
Meenesh, can you describe your business to us?
At Wholey Moly, we're on a mission to prove healthy doesn't have to be boring. We do this by making healthy cookies from 100% natural ingredients. They have all the taste and are loaded with nutrition, but without any of the crap.
How did you come up with your idea and turn it into an actual business?
The idea for Wholey Moly came from our frustration of working in a corporate office, where the 3pm slump is greeted by a bombardment of sugary and empty-calorie treats like doughnuts, cakes and cookies.
We still wanted that sweet treat with our afternoon cuppa – who doesn't? But why couldn't it also be good for us?
After two years of my wife Parul and I baking in our little flat in London – thousands of attempts and an awful lot of failures – we settled on naturally healthier cookies.
This means cookies made from 100% natural ingredients, with nothing processed and no refined sugars. But they still taste like a damn good sweet treat with your afternoon cuppa.
What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
We ripped up the baking manual and started from scratch. You won't find any of the usual suspects in our cookies – no butter, no refined sugars, no empty calories and no guilt.
But there was a reason why traditional baking used these ingredients. They made the cookies taste great, soft in the middle but strong enough to not break at the change of the wind.
This was our biggest challenge, as using completely natural ingredients meant our cookies were brittle. In fact, in the early stages of the business, we did a farmers' market to test customers' reactions. By the time we arrived at the market, all our products had completely fallen apart!
It took us over two years of baking to find the perfect balance of crunch, nutrition and flavour for our naturally healthier cookies.
What has been your biggest achievement with your business so far?
When we started out, we set ourselves goals of where we wanted to take the business. They were mostly just wild dreams, one of which was to launch our cookies into Selfridges.
At the time, we had zero experience in food retail, and these goals were more unachievable ambitions – something you aim for, and hopefully end somewhere nearby, but never think would actually happen.
But two years later, that's exactly what happened. We launched into Selfridges in July 2018 as our first stockist.
We're still rubbing our eyes when we see friends and family sending us pics of themselves in Selfridges, buying something we created in our kitchen.
What's your next big business goal, and what will be your biggest challenge getting there?
To scale the business and get the cookies available in more retailers and nationwide.
Food retail is a busy and competitive market. It'll be challenging to stand out from the crowd, whether it's getting a buyer's attention or on the shelf where you're directly competing with others to get people's interest.
How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?
The weekly online masterclasses are a great resource for getting an understanding of the basics for any topic.
The Food Exchange and Wellness Exchange were useful ways to understand the food industry and its trends before I moved into it full time.
Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?
Richard Reed, Innocent founder. The food and drink industry is thriving with start-ups and innovation and I think it's largely to do with what the Innocent guys did 15, 20 years ago.
The market was almost solely run by the huge conglomerates offering homogenous products with dated branding. Innocent came along and created a transparent, simple and fun product, which has opened the door for a raft of new and innovative food and beverage products.
What are your three tips for business success based on your experiences so far?
Networking. I can't stress this enough. The start-up community is a very friendly gang and you can learn a lot from others who are in similar positions as you or are a few steps ahead.
Persistence without being annoying. You have to accept that as the small start-up, the power doesn't lie with you. So don't get offended when you don't receive a response. Carry on with what you're doing without being an irritant.
Get stuck into the detail for all areas of your business and don't be shy to ask dumb questions. You have to know your business inside out.
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