Our 2016 look at the best start-ups across the country rounded off with Martin Campbell from Ormsby Street, helping small businesses around the world take the calculated risks and make the important decisions needed to expand.
Our first interview of the new year is with Joseph Munns, Managing Director of Bakedin, a subscription box service that delivers baking ingredients and easy to follow recipe cards. Joseph spoke with us about his previous roles at IBM and the early days of Bakedin.
Joseph Munns (left) with Michel Roux (right)
What’s your career story in a nutshell?
I started out my career as a software engineer at IBM after I graduated from Loughborough University in 2001. It quickly became apparent that I wasn’t very good at programming and started moving more towards people and project management. I managed several different teams within the software lab including development, test, and customer support teams before taking a job integrating a small software company that IBM had recently bought called Butterfly Software. It was a small close knit team of around 20 people and my role was to help them become IBMers post acquisition.
The irony of the role was that the more time I spent with them, the more I realised that I really wanted to build my own start-up. It was then that the idea for Bakedin was born. I car shared to work with a friend called Anna and we were discussing how successful Hello Fresh had been with their recipe boxes, and how it would be great if there was something similar for baking. That conversation inspired us to make some simple kits in brown paper bags and try selling them at local school fetes and food festivals.
Another friend Elaina joined us and we found that people loved the kits and there was a real opportunity. We used our savings and a small start-up loan to get our first run of packaging and started getting the product into some small local stockists. In 2015 I decided to leave IBM and raised some funding from family and friends to grow the business. I was fortunate to be introduced to Michel Roux by a shareholder and he now approves all our baking kit recipes. We now employ around 15 people and have built our own SALSA accredited factory, with products stocked in prestigious retailers in the UK and even exporting as far as Malaysia.
What has been your proudest career moment, so far?
I’m proud of a lot of things I accomplished at IBM, but when I look back at what we have achieved at Bakedin in the last year or so it makes me realise the enormity of it. I don’t think I have one single moment that stands above the rest, but seeing our products on the shelves in Lakeland, Tesco, and Ocado still gives me a warm feeling.
Describe your workplace. Are you tidy, or do you work in organised chaos?
I’m not renowned for my tidiness so it would have to be organised chaos. I do like a tidy workspace and always feel more productive after a big tidy up, but I invariably end up surrounded by every piece of paper that Bakedin has ever generated.
Tea or coffee?
Large skinny latte, please!
Which stationery item could you not live without?
We were given some A2 desk pads by our printers which I love. I’m a doodler so it helps stop my desk ending up covered up with Post-it notes.
Who is your business idol, and why?
My dad. He’s approaching the end of a very successful career in the construction machinery industry and my first job was working for him cleaning diggers. By coincidence, it was on the same business park that Bakedin HQ is now located. He’s been extremely supportive of my journey as a start-up founder and has always been there when times have gotten tough to reassure me and keep me sane. I’m looking forward to him retiring soon so we’ll get to see him more often and hopefully get a bit of free sales consultancy at Bakedin!
What’s the best thing Bakedin has allowed you to do?
We had the opportunity to have a photoshoot with Michel and his family, to get some promotional photos for the launch of our Baking Club. Time was of the essence, which meant we needed to go to wherever he was, which ‘unfortunately’ meant we needed to go to his villa in Saint-Tropez. It was the first (and, so far, only) international Bakedin business trip, and sitting in the sun on the terrace having lunch cooked for us by one of the greatest chefs ever was the highlight of the Bakedin journey so far.
Which workplace habit can you not stand?
I can’t stand people being late and the people around me know it.
What advice would you give to people starting their own business?
It’s a bit of a stock phrase, but pick something that you care about. You need a good idea that solves a genuine problem, but if you do something you care about then you will enjoy getting up for work every day and it won’t feel like work.
How do you switch off?
Other than food, my biggest passion is golf so when I get a chance I try to squeeze in a few holes. I’m a bit of a fair-weather golfer these days, which means I definitely don’t get to play as often as I would like to!
What’s next for Bakedin? What are your plans for the future?
Our subscription product, the Baking Club, is one our big focuses and growing the customer base for this is a big part of our 2017 plan. We create a new recipe every month and send a baking kit through our customers’ letterboxes. Having a direct to consumer offering that is genuinely different from the products we have on the shelves is something that I strongly believe differentiates us from other home baking brands. Investing in customer acquisition for this product and developing our digital marketing skills is going to be key to this growth and I’m excited by this part of the journey.
Have a start-up success story to share with the world? Let us know on Twitter at @viking_chat if you want to become a part of the Tomorrow’s Leaders series.