This month, Sohpie talks to us about her experiences as Founder of Mamamade.
Can you introduce your start-up? What is it, and how did it come about?
At Mamamade, we know that how you feed your baby informs their relationship with food for life. We help parents home-cook nutritionally-dense, organic and plant-based meals for their weaning babies – quickly and conveniently, without compromise. We deliver mixes to their door – parents need simply heatand then puree, mash or use whole to whip up anything they canimagine! Gone are the days of meal planning, meal prepping, and shopping.
I started developing the idea when my daughter was about 7 months old. I was determined to only home-cook the very best for her but found it difficult to keep up with the pace of feeding her milk, meals and snacks. I refused to accept that the only options available to parents like me were either doing everything 100% myself or opening the seal to a highly-processed product that was likely older than my baby…
I spoke to lots and lots of parents, and I realised I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I Eventually started selling mixes from my kitchen, and it’s taken off from there!
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Where are you in your startup journey?
We’re very young! We’ve just started trading this year. So far we have delivered over 500 meals across the UK and have been accepted onto two accelerators: Huckletree’s Alpha Programme as well as the Seed Fund, which is specific to the food biz (very validating as baby food isn’t typically noticed by ‘foodies’!). Early days, but lots to come!
To date, what has been the biggest triumph for your business?
Just the fact that this little endeavour – which started from my kitchen and a genuine passion for how I fed my baby – now serves parents across the UK, who are subscribed to receive our products week after week, is so thrilling.
As a sole founder, do you have any advice you would give to other sole founders?
I would tell anyone who has an idea they’re passionate about to just go for it and the right team will percolate around you. I wasted time in the beginning because I felt like I absolutely had to find a co-founder – the search for the ‘perfect partner’ turned out to be a distraction from just going for it.
That said, it’s definitely important to surround yourself with mentors and people you love and trust to act as sounding boards – because that one-sidedness is the hardest part about being a sole-founder!
How do you manage to balance growing a start-up with having a personal life?
It’s not easy – especially as this business has very obviously grown out of my personal and family life – but it’s manageable. I’m very strict with my time. It feels nuts to do, but I plan each week out down to the hour, and that allows me to be present for work, for my family, and to take time for myself. Ultimately, it’s not the hours you put in – it’s the work you put into those hours!
How do you cope with the pressures that come with building a business?
I try to remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. And it’s because I love it and am so passionate about helping parents feed their babies healthy, home-cooked meals. Focusing on the mission tends to take the edge off a bit!
Did you pursue investment? If so what advice would you give on pitching? What was your secret weapon?
We haven’t yet, but we will be pursuing investment in the next 6 months. At the moment we are focusing on building relationships and not being afraid to ask for advice! It’s amazing how much support is out there for young start ups!
If you could name one thing that you wish you knew when you started, what would it be?
Just go for it! Starting out I was paralysed because I didn’t have much business experience or an MBA. Having those skills are great, but the lessons I’ve learnt from failing early on really do provide the greatest lessons of them all.
To date, what has been your most important lesson?
Learn from your mistakes and put the processes into place to avoid them happening again. We don’t hide that we had a few hiccups early on – but I’ve found that the quicker you confront those issues, put your hands up and apologise and then rectify, customers can be very forgiving and supportive!
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone thinking about starting up their own business, or who have just started their journey?
I’m still very early in my journey, but I’d say if you have an idea that you’re passionate and excited about, just go for it. It may never take off the ground, but the amount you’ll learn is more than any degree can teach you!
What has been the most challenging part of your start-up journey so far?
As Mamamade started out as just me in the kitchen, the biggest challenge has been learning about and having to occupy every single role in the company (including courier!), and then eventually having to ‘let go’ and delegate those roles to a great team. Teams don’t have to be direct employees, either– they can be freelancers, consultants and small agencies who share in your passion for your project.
What’s next for your business?
We’re so determined to inspire and empower parents to home-cook for their babies and families.
Our first project, frozen mixes of nutritionally-dense plant-based and organic mixes, has gotten great feedback which in turn has provided lots of inspiration for additional project ranges that would support our mission. We’re excited to see where this takes us!
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