Sam, a MSc International Business grad, tells us about how he co-founded YellowLabel, an app that helps prevent food waste.
YellowLabel is a mobile app that allows users to prevent food waste, and save some money in the process. We advertise food around Leeds that would, without our help, be thrown away. These items are reduced in price, shown with a new ‘Yellow Label’.
We advertise these products to help prevent food waste. The items have a short shelf life, and if they are unsold, end up in the bin. YellowLabel allows users to see what is on offer in their local area, and then go to the shop to buy them. The business is aimed at anyone who would like to save some money on their food shopping, would like to prevent food waste, or enjoys cooking with a wide variety of items. At YellowLabel, we think that it is terrible so much food is thrown away, and yet our wealth is also going down.
Our app will be launched at the end of January, and will feature many of your favourite local businesses and shops, with hopefully a few larger names on their too. This will be the first version of the product, developed entirely by the team. It is a very busy and exciting time for the company. A lot of hard work has gone in to make our vision a reality, but very soon we will be active in reducing food waste, and saving you some money.
Our entrepreneurial journey:
Our entrepreneurial journey started in 2015 when we came together for the ‘Deloitte Business Challenge’ hosted by the enterprise society. We had all met before as we were on the same MSc International Business course, here at the University of Leeds. Richard came up with the idea, and with it we won the competition. After this we had to focus on our studies, and as soon as our dissertations were out of the way we started working on the business. We registered as a company in February 2016, and then things got serious.
As a team, we have found the process of starting our own company challenging. This is both because the process is hard in itself, but also because of our product. We are building a brand-new marketplace from scratch, and trying to work with some of the UK’s biggest retailers. Because of this, it has taken us a long time to get to the stage we are at now.
In hindsight, and if we started again now, we would be able to get to our current stage in about 1/3 of the time. We have learned so much over the last 9 months, and matured so much as individuals, that starting another company now would be a walk in the park. Our story is not dissimilar to others we hear every day. Starting a company is hard when you have no idea how to make it a reality, but if you can surround yourself with good people, that process will be smoothed out.
How the University has helped us:
To help us on our journey, we received a good amount of support from within the University, both the Spark team and the wider university network. The Spark team have been very supportive, and offered a range of services that have propelled the company forward. These services include finance, accounting help, legal advice, and general business mentoring. We went to Milan for an international FoodTech pitching competition, and the Spark team were brilliant in helping us prepare for the event. We won our category, and a lot of that is down to the help we received in the build-up to the event.
The wider university network has also been a huge help to the company. Anyone from professors to alumni, subject schools to libraries, everyone we have spoken to has been a huge help. Our product is for students, and we are alumni here, so everyone sees the value in helping each other out.
The key advice that YellowLabel would give to any prospective entrepreneur is to ’Just do it’. The three of us know that we can get a graduate job anytime we like, but we may never be able to start our own company again. We all took the plunge when we graduated, and have never looked back.
The job is incredibly hard, stumbling our way through our first venture, but we genuinely love every day of it, and wouldn’t swap it for any entry level job we’ve seen. We control our time, our vision, and our opportunity to do some serious social good. If that isn’t worth waking up for in the morning, I’m not sure what is!