Lunch and Learn: Launching a business on a shoestring budget

Alexei KhatiwadaLexi's Treats

Posted: Thu 8th Jul 2021

In this Lunch and Learn, Alexei Khatiwada shares the story of how he founded his healthier treats business Lexi's Treats on the smallest of budgets.

Alexei quit his corporate career to launch Lexi's Treats. Having pivoted his strategy to launch online in August 2020, he went on to sell almost 200,000 treats in his first year, all on a shoestring budget.

In late 2023, Alexei exited the business when it was successfully acquired by Serious Sweets Company.

Key discussion points

From university to entrepreneurship (1.28)

  • Alexei studied psychology at university before working in banking for nearly a decade. He quit his job to travel and later launched his healthier treats business from home.

Launching a business on a shoestring budget (4.09)

  • Alexei started selling homemade snacks at markets and online, eventually scaling up with a larger manufacturer.

  • He didn't raise any cash or take any loans to launch his business, demonstrating that it's possible to launch a business with no start-up funds.

  • Alexei emphasises the importance of saving money in the early stages of a business, citing cash flow as "absolutely king".

  • Alexei has a personal strategy for keeping costs low, including questioning the need to spend on various services, and keeping branding expenses tight.

Budgeting for small businesses (8.31)

  • Alexei prioritises spending money on essential elements of his business – like a website that meets customers' needs – rather than extra features or aesthetics.

  • To avoid overspending and make sure you're getting value, Alexei suggests starting with basic tasks and learning what's important before outsourcing work to other people outside the business.

  • Alexei says planning for future costs and unexpected changes in a business is incredibly important, even when starting small.

  • Alexei suggests testing a business concept by building the bare minimum and testing it to see if it's sellable, rather than trying to create a perfect product from the start.

Product development and sales strategy (13.22)

  • Alexei discusses the challenge of transitioning from doing everything himself to teaching someone else. He says it's worthwhile investing time in future-proofing processes for the team.

  • Alexei started selling his product Lexi's Treats online through Instagram and Facebook, then expanded to Amazon and a few smaller retailers.

  • He took a risk by launching his product without the support of larger retailers, but has seen success through his direct-to-consumer sales.

Marketing strategies and branding (19.23)

  • Alexei designed his brand logo himself (with some help from a designer).

  • Alexei handles all marketing and social media efforts himself, including launching the product.

  • Alexei emphasises the importance of being honest and open with your audience, and tapping into their needs and interests to build a loyal following.

Finding suppliers (24.32)

  • Alexei found a manufacturer for his food product by researching accrediting organisations and their lists of manufacturers.

  • Alexei mentions Nielsen reports at the British Library, which are free to use.

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Alexei KhatiwadaLexi's Treats

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