First off, can you tell us about your background and your product?
I’m Sara Trechman and the Co-Founder of Well&Truly. I started Well&Truly with my sister-in-law Maria Trechman in 2016. We both had previous careers in FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), Maria in Sales at L’Oreal and me heading up numerous marketing departments at BSkyB and Glanbia plc.
With snacking sales on the up due to consumers change in eating habits, there was a clear gap in this space for a brand that could make better & healthier versions of some of the most loved snacking products we all know.
Whilst in recent years we noticed a flurry of innovative healthy snacks being launched (Kale chips?) often taste was compromised for health credentials. No brand offered better-for-you versions of much loved snacks in popular flavours and traditional formats, so we set out to un-junk & improve the nutritional profiles of snacking classics such as Tortilla Chips and our version of a NikNak whilst not compromising on either taste or health.
All of our snacks are made with all natural ingredients (maximum 6 whereas industry average is 12), Gluten Free and contain 40% less fat.
Photo: Maria & Sara Trechman Co-Founders of Well&Truly
How long did it take to build your initial prototype and how did you validate it?
We spent 6 months visiting different factories around Europe trying to find one that could make the product we wanted. We found a great factory in Italy that could make low fat baked corn snacks that were also certified gluten free. We ran 7 trials in total until we found the perfect texture, crunch & flavour for our crunchy really cheesy snacks.
To validate our product we ran consumer focus groups and did lots of sampling outside stores to gain as much feedback as possible.
How did you get your first paying customer and how long did it take?
For us our first paying customer came from our first listings with a big Grocer. Getting the attention of a grocer buyer isall about persistence! Sometimes you'll just be lucky and a buyer will will give you their time early on otherwise you’ll have to try much harder. We found that having a unique product / proposition and a brand built on the wants & needs of the UK consumer helped us grab the attention of the buyer. Our Tesco listing was a huge moment for us as it was our first listing and the first time we saw our product on the shelves in store. Building and nurturing relationships with the different buyers is key and you need to maintain a good dialogue with them and let them know about new trends, new products you are developing, positive consumer feedback & good press coverage.
Photo: Jumping for joy after seeing our product on shelves for the first time – Tesco was our first customer
what worked and what didn't work when finding your first users?
As we’re in the snacking business the retailers find our first customers by putting our products on their shelves. Once your product is on the shelf of a store you need to continue to build your brand and raise brand awareness. One of the most powerful assets is your packaging because that will sell your product to a consumer. We recently did a big rebrand project to reposition Well&Truly in mainstream snacking and not just FreeFrom. We gather a huge amount of consumer feedback, studied the category, looked at what would challenge the category and stand out on shelf. We moved from white packaging to black and focused on our key unique selling point crunch & flavour. To launch our new packaging we ran a 3 month PR campaign, weekly samplings in store and create a number of marketing assets that could be used in store to make our products standout more e.g. shelf wobblers, FSDUs etc.
Photo: New packaging launched in May 2018
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to onboard their first users?
As we didn’t onboard any users the below advice is for anyone looking to set up their own business.
Do it! It’s the best thing we’ve ever done but make sure you have a good network & team around you to help guide you and offer advice when you need it. We both say that we couldn’t do it on our own, being able to share the journey with someone has made all the ups and downs so much better. Make sure you have a product or idea that you believe in and that you have tested with consumers. If you know it is better than the competition the journey will be so much easier. Build a good network of other start-ups who you can meet for a chat or coffee. The start-up scene in London is very supportive and always happy to share any advice or tips. We’ve also enjoyed partnering with other start-ups for competitions and sampling to help raise our brand awareness to different consumer groups.
What resources have helped you in the early stages?
Ensuring that all our finances were set up correctly from day one has helped us as we grow. We started with Xero and Receipt bank which enabled us to keep on top of our bookkeeping and expenses.
Having a cashflow model that we could look at on a monthly basis has enabled us to raise finance at the right time for our growth. We have raised over £500k to support our growth and new product launches.
Photo: our newest product launch Smokey Paprika launched in June 2018
How can people reach you and find out more?