Amy Moring and Jeff Webster, Hunter & Gather
A surge of interest in health and wellness by consumers during the Covid-19 pandemic has super-charged growth at Hunter & Gather, a health food and supplements business with a £2 million turnover run by co-Founders Amy Moring and Jeff Webster.
- What was the inspiration for your business?
Amy has had coeliac disease all her life so knew first-hand the dangers of cheap convenience foods and its debilitating impact on long-term health and happiness. Jeff also felt the effects of a poor diet, suffering from eczema, asthma, severe acne, but managed to turn this around by cutting out processed foods, refined sugars, grains and inflammatory seed oils, which fostered an innate passion and pursuit of optimal health. We set up the business in 2017 to champion the idea of real food by creating a range of healthy sauces and supplements, including Avocado Oil Mayonnaise and Unsweetened Tomato Ketchup.
- How did you finance the growth of your business?
Initially with credit cards, personal director loans and a small level of equity funding. Since then, we have taken out an Amazon loan and have also used uncapped revenue share finance.
- What has been the most difficult or challenging part of growing your business?
Cash flow is a big challenge for growing businesses and finding the cash to sustain triple digit growth is still very much a challenge. Also ensuring we have the systems and people in place to stay one step ahead hasn’t been easy. The reality is that when your business is growing rapidly there isn’t a roadmap for success. You have to be pretty fearless and not afraid to think on your feet.
- What has been the impact of the pandemic on your business and how have you dealt with this?
Whilst the past year has been a challenging one, from the outset we were determined to see the pandemic as an opportunity - rather than a barrier - to business growth. Covid-19 created a surge of interest in health and wellness as consumers looked for products that put health first. As a challenger brand, we were well placed to act quickly - reaching out to consumers, creating a thriving social community, and giving them the tools to thrive.
Lockdown also created another growth opportunity for us – the transformational shift to online. From the beginning, we understood the importance of e-commerce, moving our direction away from food service and prioritising our direct-to-consumer web sales, as well as Amazon and Ocado. However, when the pandemic hit, almost overnight consumers were spending 25% more of their money online, and we were able to respond immediately, supercharging our online strategy to launch subscription, loyalty points and email campaigns as well as a brand new website. The shift to online has pushed up ad spend and cost per acquisition, but as a result we’ve seen web sales soar by 590%.
- What key lesson have you learnt about setting up and growing a business?
No margin, no mission! There are a lot of costs to consider in running a business that can be surprising, so having a robust financial model is key. We’ve also learnt that cash is king – it’s very hard to grow and be profitable in the early years. You need to wear lots of hats to keep things spinning.
- What has been your biggest mistake?
Probably not having the foresight to grow the team quicker, and sooner. From the beginning we were focused on working “in” rather than “on” the business. We are now actively transitioning to ensure we’re not spending our time doing roles that other people can do better.
- What has been the secret of your success so far?
Knowing there is no silver bullet and just getting up each day and trying to be better than the day before.
- What advice would you give an entrepreneur just starting out about how to grow their business?
Think strategically. The desire to do everything can be strong, but you are better off having a clear focus and strategy and sticking to it. Saying no to things can be hard but it’s important as your business grows.
- What personal quality or characteristic has been most useful to you as an entrepreneur as you grow your business?