Thea talks about starting Young Foodies with business partner, Chris

Thea talks about starting Young Foodies with business partner, Chris

The foodie business is growing, both in terms of customers and competition.

It can be especially intimidating at the start when you don’t know the industry well.

A pair of entrepreneurs are hoping to change that by giving smaller companies a boost. We speak to Theadora Alexander, co-founder of Young Foodies, a community of UK-based food and drink brands.

How did you come up with the idea for Young Foodies? What is its USP?

Before launching Young Foodies, I was the operations and strategy director at an emerging popcorn company, where I felt first-hand the obstacles young brands are challenged with every day. It seemed like a constant uphill battle to compete against the big guys, despite having so much in our favour at the same time.

And by very nature of being a start-up with less than a handful of people at the time, we had to wear multiple hats.

It was then that I met Chris Green who held an operational role at a rival popcorn brand and was equally aware of the need for expert guidance and day-to-day support for the hundreds of foodie start-ups on the scene.

Young Foodies helps to support younger food businesses

We had a shared vision to make small brands mighty – give power to the innovators and set a fair and level playing field for them to thrive in. That’s what Young Foodies is all about.

The community now has more than 250 of the UK’s fastest growing fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands. We provide our ambitious food and drink members with expert knowledge, grassroots experience and industry resource to help make the everyday easier for them, be it building best-in-class teams, shoring up their back office, giving them access to group buying, or simply connecting them.

How does it work?

We have two communities.

Our main community is for scale-up brands – those with proven traction in the market. They are vetted in alignment with a set of Young Foodies criteria and, once invited to join as paying member, they have instant access to plenty of tools, expert advice, general consultancy, training and of course, a platform to share and connect with other brands going through the same process.

We also negotiate great discounts and deals for our members, driven by economies of scale and collective bargaining power.

Our start-up community, YF Lite, is for start-up brands who are just at the beginning of their lives. They can just sign up and get access to lots of free knowledge and support. Any members of the communities can then use our services created to make the lives of challenger brands easier.

What challenges did you face in setting up the business?

The biggest challenge for me has been learning more about myself and accepting things I’m not good at. Running a business is incredibly exposing and that’s always hard. It’s why we’re such believers in supporting entrepreneurs to help make their journey less lonely.

“The biggest challenge has been learning more about myself and accepting things I’m not good at”

You can feel like you’re going crazy at times. That’s why I’m so lucky I have my co-founder, Chris Green.

How did you secure investment?

We are mostly self-funded. Earlier this year, we took a small amount of angel capital from an amazing man who wanted to support us. We are incredibly proud of having him on the team now.

What are your expansion plans?

Over the past 16 months since launch, and in addition to our core community, we have established several new services within Young Foodies.

This has come from listening to our community and responding to their needs and pressure points with smart, efficient and affordable solutions.

It has been a very successful strategy for our growth already and we aim to continue building our business in an organic and responsive manner so that Young Foodies retains maximum relevance and value.

What are your goals for the business?

We want to create a level playing field between challenger food and drink brands and the big businesses they’re up against.

This comes with it a million to-dos: change policy, inject scale, build best in class teams in the brands, and take logistical and operational challenges off their plates onto ours.

We’re certain in our mission and know we’re making every effort possible to help make small brands mighty.

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