When Victoria Prince started her business – Energy Ball Recipes – she was working on her kitchen table and putting together ideas alongside her day job in marketing. As interest grew in the niche concept she launched the brand on Kickstarter. Twelve months on and the marketing expert already has an exclusive range at iconic British store Selfridges, dispatched hundreds of Recipe Kits around the world, taken a call from Dragon’s Den producers, appeared on National and International TV, radio and press, fed top-level Athletes and chefs and been nominated for 2 awards.
Victoria has tapped into two of the biggest retail trends of the moment: vegan food and subscription boxes. (See our step by step guide on how to set up a subscription box service here).
A story of success and vision Victoria is now looking to share her experience and help other SMEs to realise their dream as she supports businesses with big ambitions.
We find out more about the woman behind the UK’s first Vegan snack kit and how she turned an idea into a successful business.
“Having a great idea is only a very small part of making your business a success,” says Victoria Prince. The 38-year-old from Nottingham started the UK’s first vegan snack kit Energy Ball Recipes last year as she was keen to find alternative plant-based snacking options. Turning to a vegan diet as a way of improving her health the business owner, who also runs Touchpoints Marketing, was finding it hard to find a variety of fresh, unprocessed snacks on the market that she could pick up and eat on the go.
“That is when I started making energy balls – bite sized mouthfuls of seeds, nuts and fruit all combined together in a flavoursome snack. I started to experiment with flavours and ways of keeping them fresh. Then I thought wouldn’t it be handy if you could have all the right ingredients to make 30 of these treats delivered to your door so you don’t have to buy lots of big bags of expensive ingredients when you only need a little bit of each one. That’s when Energy Ball Recipes was born.”
Starting out making boxes for family and friends Victoria soon found an appetite for the concept. Converting a barn at her parent’s house into a development kitchen, the idea grew into a side business and soon saw her spending more and more time keeping up with demand.
“I am not going to say it was easy. There were lots of ups and downs along the way,” she said thinking back to when she first started. “But to be where we are now is such an achievement and a great feeling. It has given me invaluable experience in getting an idea to market which I can now use to help others and a fantastic product which is now selling online across the country.”
So how did she do it?
By taking advantage of every opportunity that came her way as well as creating a few of her own.
“The idea nearly never got through the Kickstarter stage as I considered taking it off before I’d even had chance to start! Lucky for me I have a great team of people behind me and my family were very supportive in helping me to see that it was possible.
“For me the people you chose to surround yourself with can have a huge impact on your success.”
Victoria spent a lot of time networking and meeting like-minded business people who could help her share and develop her ideas.
Simply networking and being in the right place at the right time is how she got her big break with Selfridges. Attending shows and events Victoria built up an extensive list of contacts and ambassadors who shared her believe in the unique idea and it was at a food trade show that a Selfridges buyer approached her to find out more.
“A lot of opportunities have come to me just by having the courage to get out there and talk about my product,” she said.
“I spent a lot of time getting to know my audience, making sure my message was right and sharing it as far as I could.
“It is why we have featured in regional TV, radio, national newspaper The Sun, the UK’s largest vegan publication Vegan Food and Living and the only vegan TV show Veggie TV amongst others.”
With a strong social media and PR presence Victoria has also built up connections with influencers and bloggers in her field including top Foodie 100 rated bloggers, vegan influencers – who are one of her key markets – and even Olympic athletes.
“Knowing your audience and taking the time to promote your product in the right way can really pay off.”
The whole journey has been a rollercoaster and there have been so many times when I thought this couldn’t get better.
Each piece of national coverage was definitely a high and it was great to see our brand in the likes of Marie Claire or Women magazine. Having Olympic diver Leon Taylor share his believe in the snacks was also a memorable moment as well as obviously having Selfridges create an exclusive range for their online store.
It has been a really exciting journey and I have enjoyed embracing every opportunity that comes our way.
What one tip would you share with anyone looking to start a business?
Don’t be afraid to let the business evolve and to follow the opportunities that come your way.
“Running a business can be lonely but by having a good team around you it can help to make the decisions easier.
“There are so many people out there willing to help and give you advice so take advantage of it and make the most of every opportunity to tell people why your idea is great.”
So, what next?
“Having reached this point, I have had so many requests from businesses to develop their brands and products using all my valuable experience and knowledge to make their dreams a reality.”
Victoria is now helping to provide advice and guidance to other businesses about how they can use marketing, PR, social media, networking and other techniques to promote their business and use a similar model to find success.
If you would like to find out more about how Victoria took her idea and turned it into a successful business you can download her free 12 page marketing blueprint which is designed to help companies get the most out of their idea. Go to www.TouchpointsMarketing.co.uk for more information or to download your free support guide now.