Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial journey so far and any challenges you may have faced along the way?
I started my career as an analyst in the city; whilst it gave me a good grounding in all things finance, my love of food was ever-present. My parents ran a hospitality firm in Hartlepool, so working within the food/hospitality industry is in my DNA! After becoming a bit tired with the corporate world, I travelled to Vietnam in 2012 for a change of scenery. I loved their culture towards food, where it’s truly a way of life, that became my inspiration for Hop and the rest is history.
“working within the food/hospitality industry is in my DNA!”
Every founder experiences challenges, they’d be lying if they said they didn’t. As I oversee all the different parts of the company – I’m constantly learning, but it can certainly feel overwhelming at times. Trying to understand the way the business will be affected once the B-word strikes is also a source of regular thought.
What do you wish you had known when you first started on your fundraising journey?
It sounds obvious, but ensure there’s an investment community that will be receptive to your product. The initial reception / traction we had from friends and family was hugely validating, but we also did a massive amount of research into which investors to approach – this is something we worked with Raising Partners on.
How did you first get started with raising investment?
My background in finance helped somewhat when I was first seeking investment, specifically from a networking perspective. I know this isn’t everyone’s experience, but I do think there’s something to be said for the ‘right’ type of networking and knowing how to make your approach, which I think is something that’s open to everyone. When I initially started approaching friends and family with the concept, they were really receptive to it, which further fuelled my enthusiasm and belief in the concept.
“I do think there’s something to be said for the ‘right’ type of networking and knowing how to make your approach”
What advice would you give to someone raising their first round of investment?
Pace yourself. Don’t jump into doing something for the wrong reasons – raising isn’t a race!
Surround yourself with people that you keep in grounded in what the company’s mission actually is; there’s masses of expertise within my team, and I benefit so much from this, sustainable growth can’t happen in an echo chamber. Working with Raising Partners, and benefiting from their experience of taking people step by step through our raise has been invaluable, especially with a crowdfunding element involved.
“I always try to operate at 80% mental/physical capacity. Any more is potentially going to lead to over stressing, exhaustion and leaves no time for personal space or reflection”
Finally, raising can be stressful, look after yourself! I observe the 80% rule. This rule was given to me by one of my investors and I now live by it. It basically means I always try to operate at 80% mental/physical capacity. Any more is potentially going to lead to over stressing, exhaustion and leaves no time for personal space or reflection. If your aim is to build something with longevity, you need to make sure you’re still capable and clear headed in the future.
What will you be focusing on in 2020?
We’re hugely excited by how our 2020 is already shaping up. We’re over the moon with the reception to our crowdcube campaign, and look forward to using those funds to expand across London.
“this is just the start for HộP! Watch this space”
We’re in negotiations with one of the leading concessions operators about opening a number of HộPs in transport hubs across the UK. We’re also in early-stage discussions with a “dark kitchens” operator to expand our delivery capabilities. This is just the start for HộP! Watch this space.
This is our Founders in Focus feature, what non-work thing should people turn their focus to?
Ensuring a work/life split! It’s a particularly busy – but hugely exciting – time for us at HộP, but it’s important to retain a balance!