Cutting veg: where plant-based cooking meets innovative technology
Martin Holden-White, the founder of Grubby, has a reliable recipe for growth. That is, a lean team and a keen grasp of business fundamentals.
Neverbland: What is Grubby?
Martin Holden-White: Grubby is a plant-based recipe kit containing pre-portioned ingredients making cooking a tasty plant-based meal quick and easy. Our aim has always been to make cooking and eating plant-based meals accessible, fun and delicious.
NB: How did Grubby get started?
MHW: Before Covid hit, Grubby operated as a delivery service for offices. Then the pandemic happened. But just before Covid hit we secured just as we secured a £100k angel investment so although we had to change our business model, at least we had some cash.
MHW: During the pandemic, we began giving out our recipe kits to frontline workers in London hospitals. This was a charity initiative, paid for by JustGiving donations. This initiative kickstarted our new business model.
NB: How did you make the shift from charity initiative to business venture?
MHW: The first step was building a website using Shopify where our customers could purchase recipe kits. Our delivery radius was small at first, just Hackney and Islington. We were hustling hard in the early days. In our first week in May 2020, we had just seven customers. Now we have 7500 active subscribers. Our annualised run rate when we raised this time around was over £6 million.
NB: That’s an impressive turnaround! How did you do it?
MHW: We did everything ourselves in the early days, fulfilling all of our orders ourselves. Since then we have kept our team small, but remain supported by our larger network of suppliers and subcontractors, allowing us to grow quickly and efficiently.
NB: Was it difficult to be a food business and a tech start-up simultaneously?
MHW: Keeping our customers satisfied has always been our top priority. We’re committed to giving our subscribers the best plant-based cooking experience – from how we source our ingredients to how the finished grubby meal tastes. We moved away from Shopify after realising the importance of providing our customers with flexibility and choice. We had to place more importance on the technological side of our business to ensure that our customers kept coming back.
NB: How have you managed to come so far, so quickly?
MHW: Covid caused some disruption. We missed the big spike that delivery businesses got during covid, simply because we’d barely started yet. Despite this, we’ve maintained consistent and speedy growth because we’ve always instinctively taken the lean approach in the business – believing that every penny really counts. We found the right experts and contributors who really helped guide our operation in the early days before taking certain things in-house.
NB: Has that approach worked for you so far?
MHW: Much like so many other businesses, the last year has been challenging to say the least. despite external factors, we’ve quadrupled in size since 2021 and have raised over £4m in our most recent funding round. That’s a pretty impressive outcome considering the current landscape and the size of our business.
NB: What’s next for Grubby?
MHW: To keep our fundamentals ticking and keep our customers coming back for more, we’re now incredibly focused on making sure everything behind the scenes continues to evolve and improve. If we can do that everything else will take care of itself. Ultimately, we can get more plants on plates.
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