028 – Building Your Food Brand’s Dream Team with Pippa Murray from Pip & Nut
Pippa Murray has taken the spreads category by storm. From humble beginnings (in a garden shed) she’s grown the business and built a brand that people love. Pip would be the first to say that she didn’t do all this alone and over the years she’s built a dream team that are taking the business to new levels of success. Tune in to learn how Pip built her brand from the kitchen table in to retailers up and down the country.
In this episode you’ll learn
- Where the Pip & Nut story began
- The importance of building a strong brand
- Positioning your brand correctly to stand out from competitors on the shelves
- How to make your brand more authentic by giving it the personal touch
- Why it’s important to understand and experience each job and role within your business
- How to interview potential team members to ensure a good fit
- Why unconventional interview locations can help you find the right people
Notes and Links
Episode TranscriptGuy: [00:00:01] You’re listening to Good foodies and this is Episode 28. And today we’re talking to Pippa Murray from Pip & Nut about starting a brand and scaling up by building your dream team. We’ll also share a handy tool for managing all the systems and processes in your business. So, stay tuned. Guy: [00:00:28] Hello and welcome to the show. It’s nice to have you again. And today, we’re going to be talking about one of my favorite subjects… Kylie: [00:00:36] Food? Guy: [00:00:37] Food is one of them. And Peanut Butter is the other. Kylie: [00:00:40] Oh my god, the amount of peanut butter that you consume is crazy! Guy: [00:00:45] What is crazy about it? Kylie: [00:00:46] We get one kilo tubs and I don’t even think that lasts us two weeks anymore and I don’t eat any of it. Guy: [00:00:52] Yeah, I know it is a bit crazy, yes. I have a bit of a peanut butter addiction which is quite similar to our guest today. So we’re talking to Pip Murray from Pip & Nut and our love for peanut butter is not the only thing that we have in common bizarrely. So Kylie, we always like to start with a question here and I have a question for you today which is a little bit of an odd one. What is the strangest place you’ve ever lived? Kylie: [00:01:15] So then there’s strange to me and there’s strange to everyone else. Guy: [00:01:18] You are strange to me and to everyone else. Kylie: [00:01:21] So you think most people would think that we lived on site while we’re doing property renovations three times now and everyone who has ever visited us while we’re in the midst of a renovation does think that we are quite crazy? Guy: [00:01:36] Yes absolutely. I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face when she walked into literally the building site where we were sleeping and yeah, it was priceless. Kylie: [00:01:46] That’s not the word I would use but yes, there was a very stunned silence for a little while she took it all in. Guy: [00:01:52] And we gave it the tour and it was fantastic! Kylie: [00:01:54] Yeah, it kept her quiet for ages! Guy: [00:01:57] Maybe we should do that again. So where else have you lived? Because building sites, yes, quite obscure but any other kind of obscure places that you’ve lived before? Kylie: [00:02:05] I’ve also lived in quite a few developing countries. So I worked and lived in Africa for a while and then also in Guatemala. Then Guatemala was probably the most unique one because it was down a river, no electricity. It was quite. Guy: [00:02:20] Remote. Kylie: [00:02:21] Very remote, yes, but also not that kind of typical thing that you think of when you hear of people living in developing countries. It really was out there. Guy: [00:02:29] Yeah, and you were managing an orphanage there, weren’t you? Kylie: [00:02:32] Yeah, I was. Guy: [00:02:33] Well, you have done many things over your many years. Kylie: [00:02:36] The Africa stuff was also working with kids who had been living on the street, who’d been taken in by this charity to give him somewhere to live and to school them. Guy: [00:02:45] Interesting stuff. So I have not lived anywhere quite so exotic other than the building site. Kylie: [00:02:50] You have been camping. Guy: [00:02:51] Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of camping. But I have also lived in a shed. First, when I moved down down here to work in London, I didn’t live in London and so I would travel in and out all the time and it was very exhausting. So, I used to sleep in a sleeping bag on an old futon in a friend’s shed. And the only reason that we’re talking about this today is because Pippa Murray from Pip & Nut actually started working on the brand whilst living in a garden shed and it was a really interesting story, one that she doesn’t often like to tell but we managed to get some details out of her. But let’s jump into that conversation and find out all sorts of fascinating things about the Pip & Nut brand and a lot more as well. So let’s jump into that right now.
The InterviewPippa: [00:03:36] Yeah, I try and sometimes keep that story under wraps ever since it raised its ugly head. But yes, I started up the brand, I started working on that concept in 2013. So I was 24 at that time and I spent two years developing the products and getting the business up and running before we launched in January 2015. Yeah, I always say that at first, we’re just at startup phase. It’s getting the idea out of your head and creating the product and scaling it up and stuff is always the hardest and it can take you to some weird and wonderful places. And for me I ended up for three months living in a garden shed, in the back garden. Which essentially, if I quickly cut the story short, since I was about a year and a half in setting up Pip & Nut and at that phase, it was kind of an escape. I mean I needed to work on it full time. I was still working part time at my job. And I felt like I needed to start off again. I was struggling to work out how was I gonna pay my rent. While also paying to set up a business and I just randomly came across a competition that was being run by Escape The City. They basically are a website that promote startup jobs that encourage people to leave their corporate jobs to join startups and they were running a campaign called “Escape the Shed”. And essentially it was three months for any startup to come and live in a garden shed, take off any overheads that you might have and also work from their offices as well, so desk space too. And I applied on a complete whim, and ended up about a month later after a few rounds of the competition, winning it and quite quickly after that I quit my job and moved into it. It was a really bizarre three month period. I’m not gonna lie, it was quite surreal. Guy: [00:05:34] I can imagine. Pippa: [00:05:37] Yeah but what it did allow me was essentially a three month runway. I had no overheads, I had the time to be able to focus on the business. And at that time I was just kind of raising money for the business. And which I ended up completing in the end of that three month period, so for me it was just the perfect window of opportunity to kind of get my head down essentially. It just came with the catch of having to be a bit unconventional for a bit of time. I felt like a bit of a feral cat in the back garden, lurking. Guy: [00:06:09] Was it like a real habitable building? Or was it like a wooden panelled thing with cracked windows and cobwebs everywhere. Pippa: [00:06:17] I actually think it was more like a Wendy house, that had like windows and stuff, and I could go into their house essentially as well from the back garden. So yeah it was quite weird but, I don’t live there now, thank God. It was a very short period of my life. Guy: [00:06:32] But I guess those early stages when money is tight and you have this idea you just desperately want to get it to work, do whatever it takes to make that happen. And if that means living in a shed to save money for three months. Because I mean rent is expensive in London, right? So in a way, it sounds bizarre, but on the other hand it makes perfect sense. Pippa: [00:06:53] Yes, I think a lot of people will say it’s great to start a business when you are young because it does mean that you can just throw everything at it, you’ve got no worries about mortgages, or kids, or complications of life. Essentially you’re kind of a free spirit and I think the downside of being younger when you start something up is that you are constrained by, a lot of the time you don’t have enough savings, you don’t have much cash to leverage, you can’t take a second mortgage out. So I think you have to be a bit I don’t know, look for opportunities that are out of the ordinary, or as an alternative which is, probably the thing I would’ve done, would have been to move home for a bit of time. I think it’s just the kind of sacrifices you make over what you hope would be kind of a short term loss for a long term gain. Guy: [00:07:38] And it definitely seems to have paid off because the brand just keeps going from strength to strength. Be great to talk about the brand a little bit later on and dig into some of the things you are doing with it and some of the culture that you’re fostering is the team as well. Be really interesting to talk about that. This started as a side project didn’t it? It was on the kitchen table experimenting, creating nut butters to fulfil a need of your own really, wasn’t it? Pippa: [00:08:04] Yeah so I am a definite self-confessed peanut butter addict. I used to eat it all the time and I was eating quite a lot of it particularly a few years ago. So I used to do a lot of training for a few marathons and things like that and it was just a really nice treat to eat and I think I always liked the fact that things like nut butter and peanut butter are quite high in protein and they’re quite natural and tasty. And it was just a really simple, kind of I guess, a revelation. I was just looking at the packaging and a lot of the products I bought had palm oil in them. And I thought, it’s a very simple change of taking that out and without sugars as well, and making something more natural. And I think the funny thing is I do believe it’s not always about necessarily transforming a category and creating a whole new kind of revolutionary product that is totally different than anything else in the market. I think there’s something really good at looking at what’s already existing and improving enough on it to make a USP around your brand and product. So yeah I saw that this product could be reinvigorated and what I particularly liked about the opportunity is that it’s such a tired category, where it sits in the supermarket, it’s very dusty and it’s not hugely exciting. And I kind of felt, well, this is an opportunity to actually bring it to place, or to put out out a product, which so far had been overlooked. And I think that sort of helps so much in being able to grow as we have, because we’ve been able to be a challenger brand, a disrupter brand in the category. I don’t know if you ever wander around the supermarket, I do it all the time, but I look into different categories and I think, I don’t know how you can breakthrough, it’s so difficult in places like snacking or drinks. I have huge respect for people that have popped up in those sorts or areas, they’re so competitive, whereas spreads which is where I sit, or the brand sits rather, it’s quite a different game altogether. So yeah I think there’s definitely that thing of like seeing a problem and those things that I could improve, products that I genuinely loved and I still love eating today and an opportunity within a growing yet kind of boring category. And I think it was just a really nice perfect storm really. Guy: [00:10:17] And so do you think that is what has kind of led to the success of the brand in that there was an opportunity because it was, you’re right, it was a dusty old lots of tartan and gingham patterns on jar lids and stuff like that. Not the most kind of modern and trendy and interesting kind of thing. But then I guess there is also the trend of people looking for great tasting but products with benefits almost, either health benefits or environmental benefits. Can you talk a little bit to some of those things that you saw and perhaps how they impacted the growth and success of the brand? Pippa: [00:10:48] Yeah, there’s definitely been macro trends that have helped and supported – widely nut spreads have been so successful. People are looking for healthier choices like natural brands. I think more and more provenance is important. So understanding a little bit about what are those ingredients in your products. I think people care about a lot more. I think a lot of people shop a lot more by lifestyle, brands are becoming quite relevant, particularly to a millennial consumer who, although they’re quite price sensitive, do actually buy brands because they see it as a part of their identity as well. I think for us we very much stand for being a ‘better for you’ brand and I think, our positioning is very much around the fact that, yes our products haven’t got palm oil in them, and they’re better for you than what’s already on the market, but we’re probably not yet a threat to health food brands. And I say that because some of our products are quite indulgent, like the chocolate orange almond butter which we’ve just launched, and actually people can eat this really healthily and it is good for you but you can also be quite naughty with it. So we position ourselves around making sure that whatever products we launch onto the market there’s always a ‘better for you’ option, but it doesn’t mean you always have to be a really strict on yourself. I think particularly now, more and more it’s that idea of balance, and consumers wanting treats and something they can indulge in. That’s really important not to forget when you are producing food products, you really have to deliver a flavour and excitement because that’s very much gonna get these people to come back. I think those that offer a health benefit or something guilt free, I think only encourages that loyalty to your brand. Guy: [00:12:38] It’s really interesting I guess there’s many layers to it and because the food industry is so vast and there’s so much competition whether it’s within one category like spreads or whether it’s across the entire supermarket everybody is kind of fighting for the same amount of weekly shop, pounds or dollars or you know, wherever you happen to live in the world. And so I guess people are looking for those blended opportunities so it’s not just like we’re a very bog standard health food company and that always seems to conjure up a certain picture to me. I mean even health food shops are dedicated to selling those kind of things. You’re also not down the other end which is pure indulgence and luxury. It’s like a blend of those bits and pieces which makes it much more interesting I think. Pippa: [00:13:20] Yeah definitely and for us it gives us a little more freedom as well with what we develop and the products that we make. In means that every so often we can be a bit more naughty. Guy: [00:13:31] And I really love that cheeky aspect to the brand and some of the wording that you use, it’s just seems very well thought through and very considered, in terms of the words and the messages and the and the little illustrations and stuff like that. Was that something that you wanted to do from the beginning or has that evolved over time? Pippa: [00:13:47] When setting up the brand there were some brands that I followed and a) ate myself but also loved what they stood for. And I always loved those quite playful brands. So for me, I’m a huge fan of the Collective Dairy, they’re a gourmet yoghurt company, I just love their products and love their brand positioning. So I think I knew when I started to work on creating a identity that I wanted a brand that had a real personality. And I worked with an agency whose previous work had really demonstrated their ability to create something very playful and fun. And that was partly down to also wanting to make sure there was a real different brand positioning from the competitors that I saw on the shelf in our category. So yes, that has very much been front and center of the way that the brand’s been developed. I think the thing though that I would say about developing a brand is that it does grow over time and you can learn what feels right and what doesn’t right. And I do think there probably have been times that we’ve gone too far over to the friendly cutesy vibe. And sometimes we’ve been a bit too serious, I think you find your way, in like how to position yourself, and it’s a real kind of gut feeling. For instance, in an advert, you can tell when something feels good and right on brand and when it doesn’t. But it’s learning how to articulate that and then get a creative to be able to get it right time and time again. So it’s really an iterative process. And I’d say that, I think often when people start up brands they want the whole world around their identity and their brand to be built out. And I think that just takes time, because you need time, and different projects to be able to stretch your brand. So for instance we did a cookbook a couple of years ago, and that really helped us explore what Pip & Nut looks like in print, and all these different assets came out the back of it. Most recently we’ve just done a very large consumer fair, Taste of London, and we had a massive space there that we had to fill. And again it gives you reasons to be able to explore what your brand looks like in those different arenas. And it continues to develop, and it’s still not a complete project. I don’t think a brand ever is really. It’s my favourite bit of growing the brand identity and controlling it really, because it can go off in all sorts of different directions and you’ve got to be really careful that you manage the brand and really look after it, because as your team grows it can start to become more fragmented if you’re not careful. Guy: [00:16:36] Yeah I guess for you perhaps even more so because it feels like you’ve put a lot of yourself into the brand as well in terms of the way that you like to think and talk and behave. And I mean your name is even part of the brand I guess as well. Has that helped or has that been a little restrictive because you wanted to have those elements of you but you don’t want it to be all about yourself? Pippa: [00:16:58] Yeah. It’s exactly our point. I’ve never really been one for wanting to completely clearly front and center. So I think if you asked the majority of people that buy the nut, if they knew what Pip was, I think most of them probably wouldn’t know it was a person if I’m honest. However there are comms through our social media and things like that, every so often I like to make myself more visible. And I do think when people do realise that I’m connected to the brand it creates a level of authenticity that through which I can really like. One of the things we’re working on is how we bolster that a little bit more. I think as quickly as you grow into more and more supermarkets making people aware that you’re independent brand is really important. So I think it really has helped, it certainly needs a bit of attention because I don’t personally want to be a celebrity or anything like that, I don’t want to be that closely connected and having my face on the front packaging. So it’s a subtle thing essentially, but what I like about it is that it gives the brand more of a story that you can talk through again and a bit more authenticity. And I think gives our identity a bit more meaning. Guy: [00:18:12] Yeah. I mean the brand is really all about making those thoughts and feelings in the minds of your customer. And I guess if you add that real person dimension to it by like putting yourself out there occasionally then it just helps to bring that personal touch. And I think in this kind of crazy modern day and age where everything is flying at a million miles an hour and so much stuff is digital and there’s very little face to face contact that people have these days. Perhaps other than when they go to work or they go out with some friends. Finding those moments of building a personal connection, I think people really resonate with. In terms of doing that, in terms of putting yourself out there a little bit, how has that changed your life? Because obviously the business is growing and doing fantastically well and you are very much connected with it and have put a lot of yourself into that. But how has it impacted the way that you live outside of work? Pippa: [00:19:05] I’d say for probably the first, so I’ve been working on Pip & Nut now almost six years if you take the two years I spent setting up. And I think the first three to four years, I barely saw the light of day, and I think it’s just such a brutal bit of time because you have to do everything and you are quite worried obviously. You don’t know if the brand is going to be successful, you’re fighting a lot of fires, and for me having not really done any business before or worked in a food brand, everything was new. I made so many mistakes, just inevitable really. So you’re constantly fighting fires, it’s tough. I think it’s a bit of a necessary evil, you have to go through that crazy phase. It has calmed down. And I do you think as you build out your team and rely more and more on people that know much more than you, to be able to actually really do things properly and take some pressure off you. You’re ultimately always responsible for whatever happens. But at least you’ve got more people filling in who have experience. I think the first years you do sacrifice seeing your friends, you’re often quite broke, so you’re not able to really live at the same level as probably your friends are as well which can be quite frustrating. And yeah you do miss out on friends, family, love life, all that stuff, and it really is hard, but it’s totally worth it. I do sometimes have to remind myself now just how lucky I am to be able to work for myself and actually choose what I do on a day to day basis and I get to speak to some absolutely amazing people across the sector who I know I would never have had exposure to if I done a more conventional career path. So, yeah I’m really fortunate and I think I’m at that great phase at the moment, which is that it’s still hard work but it’s not like leaving the office at 10pm at night. It’s more of a job or at least I try and treat it more like a job because I also don’t want to look back on my late 20s 30s and think, oh god I haven’t lived my life as well as have my business. I think for me that’s just quite important. Guy: [00:21:14] Yeah absolutely agree. And I guess once you’ve done that really tricky phase at the beginning where you’re responsible for everything and you have to do everything or learn everything. Now you’ve got through that I guess you’ve brought on a team to help you and to continue growing and now I mean of course it’s never going to become trivial and easy but it’s almost like I guess you get to set the vision and this is what we’re all about and let’s experiment with this let’s try this new thing and then you got the people to help you deliver that. Pippa: [00:21:42] Exactly. And what I find quite strange actually thought about when you do build out your team is that your job really changes every six months. As you hire more senior people, so this year we’ve just brought on a head of finance and a head of operations as well, and suddenly different parts of your job drop away and suddenly other things pop up or you spend more time doing different things. So your job is evolving all the time, which I really love but also you need to keep up with that and ask, Ok well what’s my focus now and what do I need to be working on, because it’s probably not so useful for me to be spending all my time on social media as an example. I’ve got someone who can look after that and be more focused on doing that. So things like that you have to drop things and pick new things up and learn new a skill set quite quickly, which I like actually. If it were static I think it would be quite boring. It does mean that sometimes you find yourself in phases where you’re like, ok, so I need to readjust how I work now. Guy: [00:22:43] Really interesting. It’s a very common thing I think for the entrepreneurial type person to want to do lots of different things and chase shiny new projects or experiment with a new product or something like that. But I guess one way of satisfying that is to bring on new people and it becomes a project to work with them to manage them through or teach them more, go and learn a new thing. Do you find yourself doing that? Do you find yourself having to learn lots of new skills so that you can bring people on to tell them what you need them to do? Pippa: [00:23:12] Yeah, I would say if you do run it in a relatively lean model at the beginning of the company you do end up doing every single role at some point or another. I only brought on an operations manager after a year and a half of running our supply chain, and I did a shocking job of it, but I do know the language, I know what they’re talking about. I like to think I have a sensible opinion when they’re talking about things. I know it through and through, inside and out now. And similarly with sales and so on. So I think it’s really important to have done the jobs and know what they entail so that you can stand on the same level and say, yeah I get where you’re coming from, I understand the dynamics essentially. But I do think that there’s a different phase being more of a leader as opposed to just doing a lot of the doing. I think that’s the kind of new skillset which is something that I’m learning, how to be a better leader and gave clearer direction and communicate better and set up processes say the whole team can work better as opposed to getting involved in everything. Sometimes one of the most frustrating things, I’ve had it when I’ve worked for companies, you have a manager that micromanages you or gives you a job but then gets too heavily involved. And I actually have to be really careful of that. You want people to feel that they can own something properly, and that they’re not having to check in with you all the time, because that’s pretty annoying and boring for them. Guy: [00:24:38] And it also slows things down quite a lot as well. And so I guess it’s always about finding the balance the balance between needing to know enough. To know what needs to be done knowing enough to be able to communicate with the people who you’re working with. Having enough skill in different areas either the technical work of doing something or in managing people or in leading people so there’s just always so many different bits and pieces to it which I guess is becomes a new challenge as you grow and you scale up and you bring in more people. And another challenging aspect of bringing on a team is to making sure that all the right fit and they’ve got the right kind of culture and understanding. What are some of the things you’ve been doing to work with and to make everything as smooth as possible.? Pippa: [00:25:19] Well in terms of the team and how to make sure to hire the right people in the role and also make sure that the whole team is aligned. I think again, it’s evolved over time and in the early days I’d take people to quite weird and wonderful places to do interviews, not intentionally but mainly because I didn’t have meeting rooms and I always found that was one way of filtering through people who actually could handle startup life. It’s not necessarily weird, but it’s definitely not conventional. One of my Ops managers that I ended up hiring, I remember interviewing him at 6:30pm on a Friday night, and the only place I could think of in the area that was actually open was the pub at in the road. It was down in Hackney, and at 6:30pm it was alright, it was relatively quiet in the pub, but by the end of the interview we were practically shouting at each other because it got so loud. I knew he’d come from a big company, like a large organisation, and I’m just thinking, oh my god this is so awful, what an awful situation to put someone in, trying to sell yourself while also having a talk over a massive pub crowd. But it didn’t faze him and I think weirdly I think that really helped. I guess that he knew if he could handle something like that or at least I knew if he could handle that he’d probably be able to deal with the fact that our offices are very nice and there’s going to be some unconventional stuff that’s going to come his way. So things like sometimes really work to your advantage when you’re hiring people for a startup it’s a completely different way of working from a large corporate. And other things, now as we’re a bit bigger and I’m not necessarily doing the first round interviews, or looking through every cv, we did a lot of work last year around what are our values and our purpose were and I think that’s really helped make sure the whole team are fully aware of exactly what we stand for, where we’re going, why and what that values we look for, and I think now I place a lot of emphasis on making sure people are hiring to those values. So it’s one thing to be able to do the job, but more importantly, do they have an aligned view point as we do. I do rely quite heavily on my team to be able to say, Yes I think they’d be right. But I also like the little things and I remember someone talking to me about how they almost hired someone, it was a third round interview, they had it in the bag, it was on the way out the door when they asked a question around something to do with managing people and he just says, oh you’ve just got to tell people what to do. And that was the thing that switched someone off from hiring this person and I always quite like those moments where you might be walking someone downstairs or out the door and seeing how they treat people in cafes if you’re having an interview in a cafe. Those sort of off-the-record kind of moments that say a bit more about what that person’s really like. I think people can sometimes say these off the cuff remarks when they’ve not thinking they’re being asked or watched. Those sort of little things are good to watch out, how do they treat people, if they’re waiting in the office how do they treat people when they’re in the office and do they say hello and so on. Those are little things but obviously you do have interview processes as well as being able to check out the right people. Guy: [00:28:40] So what are some of the challenges that you have in terms of culture and fear? Are there any things that are difficult still or if you mastered everything? Pippa: [00:28:49] When you’re still quite small it still feels like as a brand you’re selling yourself, selling the brand to an interviewee. It’s a two way street really, they’re selling themselves and you’re selling the business to them as well. Because I think you’ve got to make sure that the people that are coming in see and really believe in where the brand could potentially go. It does take a huge amount of hard work to scale a brand, and they’ve really got the be up for it and they’ve really got to believe that we can do it. So I think that’s fundamentally important and sometimes I think you can hear the difference between someone that genuinely thinks your brand is amazing and really believes it could be the next big thing, verses someone who’s a bit tepid and hasn’t done their research and so. I think when it comes to actually bringing people into the team though, I think it can be difficult when you start building out more or a senior team and bringing in potentially more experience to help support a new phase of growth, and that can be challenging in making sure that the whole team feels like you’re not hiring people, taking responsibility away from people who worked really bloody hard in that first couple of years. And the main thing for that that I learned is just make sure that people are involved in the interview process so that the whole team sign off a new manager and make sure that they’re really excited by the fact that they’re going to have someone to really learn from. And just make sure that they like and respect the person. Getting that involvement means that if you are bringing someone more senior into the team it’s not going to come as a surprise to somebody that’s going to be reporting into them. Just make sure you also recognise that there are projects that you can give people that mean they have their own pieces of work which they have a lot of ownership of. I think it’s just a natural thing as you’re growing, you have to get more specialists in, everyone has to get more specialists. Initially you need lots of people that are can do a lot of different things because that’s what you need, and you as a personal are also doing that. As the team grows you start to need to make sure that different areas of the company have real experts in their roles. Guy: [00:31:11] I really love that idea of getting the team to sign off a new hire. I think that’s the benefit of working in a small company or in a startup environment. You can actually do things like that whereas in a big massive corporate office with 57 floors, it’s just not practical. But I think that’s one of the huge benefits of startup land is that you can kind of do it the way that you want to do it. And if you’ve got an idea for how to make people feel more part of the team or to make people feel more involved or more responsible than you can try these things out. And I guess you’ve got all those skills for testing a brand and taking it to market and you can apply those to the team as well. Pippa: [00:31:49] Yeah exactly, it’s basically trial and error and that’s what I mean, some things will work and you’ll really like the way you did something, other times you could have definitely have improved on it and that’s just the nature of it. I quite like that fact that you can be quite agile and flex things quite quickly. Guy: [00:32:04] Yeah. Trial and error goes across so many different aspects because you’ve tried different product formats, you’ve tried different lines of products. Are you still doing the nut milks as well as the squeeze packs and these these massive tubs? I’m a huge fan of the 1 kilo tub of peanut butter! The only trouble is I go through it far too quickly! Pippa: [00:32:24] I know, it’s surprising isn’t it. We have one at home, and I was like, this will take forever to get through, and I think me and my boyfriend polished it off in like a few weeks. I was like, this is crazy, but yeah they’re quite handy aren’t they. Guy: [00:32:35] They really are really good value compared to the smaller sizes which obviously makes sense I guess. But all of this stuff that you’ve been doing, which is fantastic, we’re big fans of the brand and big fans of some of the purpose driven aspects to it as well such as creating something that is healthy and good for people, but also that wonderful experience. And that has definitely been recognised by the industry and also by your customers as well because you’ve won lots of awards, haven’t you? Pippa: [00:33:03] Yeah, lots of different kinds of awards, more food related obviously, The Great Taste Awards, and things like Grocer Product awards, which validates a lot around the taste of the product. And then some other ones which are more business related, growth related awards, which is fun. Guy: [00:33:23] Yeah absolutely. And I guess that helps to give you that push. And also is another part of validation for the team as well. So when people are coming in to interview you can be like oh you don’t have to sell the brand as hard when you’ve got a whole massive trophy cabinet full of awards that can show you off and it gives you that validation. And so we’re getting towards the end of things now. I would love to hear what is next for Pip and Nut, for the brand and for yourself? Pippa: [00:33:46] So we’re in our 4th year, we’ve just launched into Tesco, so we’re now in all the major big 4 supermarkets, without nut butters that is. And really the focus is just making sure that we grow and learn well. We first started in Sainsbury’s and we’ve got a great relationship with those guys, so now it’s how do we roll out to the other supermarkets in a similar way. So just doubling down on that and obviously like most brands we’ve got innovation that’s now quite strong at the moment that we’re working on. I always find it so frustrating just how long it takes but we expect some new stuff out around, hopefully mid next year if all goes to plan. So that’s quite exciting. Guy: [00:34:31] Can you give us any indication of what those kinds of things are? Pippa: [00:34:34] Oh, ahh, well it’s not within our core nut butter, so it will be something else. So that’s as much as I’ll say. Yeah, essentially growing the team as well. We’re growing pretty fast and it’s making sure that we have the right people in the right place at the right time. Really just trying to build out the team and make sure it’s bedded in, and more of personal thing for me is working on B-Corp at the moment. Do you know what B-Corp is? Guy: [00:35:02] Yeah absolutely. We’ve spoken to a few different people who have B Corp certification and we’re hoping to get the B Corp team on the show for a future episode as well. Pippa: [00:35:11] Yes Wicked, I’ll listen to that. So we’re working on our application at the moment. It’s pretty heavy duty. Guy: [00:35:16] I’ve heard it’s very intense. Pippa: [00:35:18] Yes. It feels like, almost like a dissertation, to write and you keep slightly putting it off because you know that there’s loads of work associated with it. We’ve started now but it still feels like we’ve got the mountains to climb with it. I’m really excited to be working on that. Yeah I think it’s just so important that a brand doesn’t forget that yes profit is important but there are other things that are also really important that need to come as part of that. Making sure you’re doing business in the right way and following the lead of some other great brands that are also doing those things. I actually think that’s one of the cool things, as your brand evolves, obviously you can embed this right at the start, but actually as you get bigger you can get more control over your supply chain and you can really start to have an impact on how you do business and really think about all of the little details which matter. Guy: [00:36:06] Absolutely. And we’ll have to get you back on when you’ve perhaps gone through the process and maybe we can talk about some of the details and explain it for other people who might want to do something similar. Pippa: [00:36:15] Definitely. Guy: [00:36:16] That sounds fantastic. And so you’ve shared so much really interesting stuff and some real insights into the brand and the way that you guys are doing things and some of the challenges and some of the areas of growth in stuff like that. Just to wrap up, if you had one piece of advice for others working in this wonderful field that we call the “food industry”, what would that be? Pippa: [00:36:35] I think for me, the one piece of advice and I think this applies for people who are just starting something up, as well as those who are actually already going, it’s to always to remember the core bit of your business. For us, that’s the nut butters. Obviously there’s the things that happen around that, like our nut milks. And so the core bit of businesses for us, UK nut butter specifically – it’s not forgetting about is and making sure that you continually look at your product and improve them and look at ways that you could work with your retailers more to get them out further into the market. I think that you can get really really distracted and certainly we have to fallen foul of it, trying to do everything at once. I think it’s about that balance of pushing things hard but also knowing that the core bit of the business is still relatively early stage and that you just need to keep saying the same thing over and over again, improving upon what you’ve got in terms of your product, and keeping focus on it as well. So it’s that balance I think, it’s a real challenge, like you said earlier in the interview, you always want to do the next new thing, but it’s also making sure that you’ve perfected the thing that you started with first as well. Guy: [00:37:45] Absolutely. Great, great advice there. And just one last question, a very important question, crunchy or smooth? Pippa: [00:37:54] The funny thing is, before I launched Pip & Nut I was definitely crunchy whereas now all I eat are the smoother ones. I have it on my cereal, on my granola in the morning, so I drizzle, at the moment, the chocolate orange I’m having. So at the moment I’m smooth. Guy: [00:38:12] Pippa Murray from Pip and Nut and you can find out more about them and buy their incredible nut butters and nut milks online at pipandnut.com. Still to come today are Lessons Learned and our Resource of the Week, after this.
Lessons LearnedGuy: [00:39:23] One of the interesting things that she talked about was the idea of needing to learn all the bits and pieces and have an appreciation of each role so that she can either explain what needs to be done to somebody or just being able to have that. Kylie: [00:39:37] I think the language. Guy: [00:39:38] Yeah, the language that’s exactly it, yeah. Kylie: [00:39:40] You need to be able to understand the basics of each role so that you can understand when someone who’s got that expertise is discussing with you and you’ve got some input. So I know this is completely off topic but, I learnt to do DIY so that when a builder came to speak to me I could actually challenge them and talk to them on their level rather than just go, oh yeah that’s how it must be, do whatever you like. And I think in business it’s even more important, you have to know the basics of each of the roles so that you can either get people to begin with but then be able to have those conversations where decisions need to be made. Guy: [00:40:13] Yeah absolutely. And we’ve ended up learning lots of very diverse different things in our business so that we can work out the right way to approach them so that we can set the strategies so that we can create the processes and then teach that to the team that’s working with us.
[00:40:27] And it sounds like Pip has been finance director and operations director and working with the supply chain and she obviously developed the product to begin with. And say you’ve got to have a little bit of all of those skill set so that you can hire the people to then take it on and grow that part of the business.Guy: [00:40:44] Yeah absolutely. So that role is always changing as we’ve said. Kylie: [00:40:48] Yeah, and she actually says that every six months her job as founder changes and I guess that’s going to come more and more as she hires in more experienced people say she’s given off the financial role so she’s got to now oversee that role which means that that part of her job has changed. She’s still going to be involved in the finance, but from a higher level and managing people and knowing I guess as she says whether to micromanage or to step back, and know when to do each of those. Guy: [00:41:17] It’s always a really tough balance to strike I think. In many cases with I mean I think Pip was very open about it in her interview and it’s certainly the case in our business and probably in the case of yours if you’re listening, that you’re always learning as you go as well and so it’s very much a trial and error type experience. But such an important thing you can’t do everything yourself, you need to bring on people and need to be able to get that support, but also work together as a team make sure everything is going in the right direction. Kylie: [00:41:44] I love that she uses the expression trial and error rather than making mistakes because what you could try in one business could be successful and then in the business not be successful either because of that brand the business or the people they’re involved in. Guy: [00:41:58] It’s definitely not straightforward but such an important part of this whole thing. I think that’s pretty much it for this. Kylie: [00:42:04] Yeah that’s good I want to get onto the resource of the week and we’ll continue the conversation. Guy: [00:42:08] Let’s do that let’s move on to our Resource of the Week.