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An Interview with Fiona Timba of Packed Munches
by Startacus Admin
Last weeks Self Starter of the week and Startacus member Fiona Timba tells us, amoungst other things, all about her food Startup Packed Munches, how it came to be, how they have managed to get national press coverage and some handy tips for other self starters too.
Founders Fiona Timba and Sabrina Hamilton first came up with the idea for Packed Munchesin July 2012. They won a Shell Livewire Grand Ideas Award in November of the same year and launched their site on 18th October 2013. Although a very early-stage start-up they have already received mentions in The Telegraph and The Guardian and receiving mentoring from the team at the Bright Ideas Trust. Fiona tells us a bit more about the Packed Munches story here…
What is Packed Munches?
Packed Munches is an online subscription service that sends monthly boxes of British food to expats across the world. We send all the treats and food that you can’t get outside of the UK, that you didn’t realise you’d miss until you couldn’t have it!
How does it work?
Simple – when a customer visits Packed Munches (www.packedmunches.co.uk) they can choose which payment package they want: monthly, quarterly, every six months, or annually and then enter their details. It’s as simple as that – even for the gift subscriptions! Each month we send our staple items that we think Brits can’t live without: tea (because you can’t live without proper tea!), biscuits, chocolates and crisps. We also add surprise items each month so that each box is a little treat for the recipient.
Where did the idea come from?
I spent the last three and a half years living in different countries and each time I arrived in a different country I would always instinctively look for my Dairy Milk buttons and Salt & Vinegar crisps. They were either impossible to find or highly overpriced in a special “Brit store” (we’re talking €6 euros for a pack of 80p biscuits!?). My best friend, Sabrina Hamilton, and I realised there was a gap in the market in relation to affordable British food for expats and Packed Munches was born.
Why a subscription service model?
Subscription service models ensure recurring customers. It also provides simplicity for the customer. They only need to visit the site once and then every month they get sent a box of food and treats. It seemed like an obvious option to us.
How are you funded?
Boot-strapping, family and friends. We won the Grand Ideas Award last year which enabled us to get a designer and website developed. We’ve also received a government start-up loan through the Bright Ideas Trust.
How did you manage to get in the Guardian and Telegraph?
A lot of hard work and a lot of luck! The year before we launched we wrote a blog detailing following our journey for a site called ThirdYearAbroad.com. They specialise in students spending a year studying abroad and really popular (they also form some of our target audience!). ThirdYearAbroad were launching a careers platform in conjunction with the Guardian and as someone who had studied and worked abroad they asked me to write about my experience in the Guardian to promote the event. Obviously I couldn’t write about this experience without including Packed Munches!
As for The Telegraph article we were contacted by a journalist writing an article about consumer habits of British expats and the export of British food.
What advice would you give to other start-ups?
Find a mentor (or more than one). We’re fortunate enough to have mentors at the Bright Ideas Trust that we can bounce ideas off and who can lead us in the right direction.
Social media is proving to be very important. We pretty much live our lives on the internet now and it’s important to have a good social media strategy in place. Even if you don’t it’s important to make sure you are using your social media channels. It doesn’t have to be over the top promotions but at least making some noise so that you can be heard. If you’re stuck for ideas visit us on Twitter @packed_munches or Facebook (www.facebook.com/PackedMunches) to see what we’re making noise about - a like and a follow won’t hurt either ;).
Without these two things we wouldn’t have been able to get where we are right now.
And Startacus wishes Fiona & Sabrina of Packed Munches all the best in 2014 - we are hungry to find out where the Packed Munches story will go next.
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