This week, Chris, a MSc International Business grad tells us how he founded Too Good to Go, a social enterprise dedicated to reducing food waste. Read on to find out about his journey and get some useful advice on starting your own business.
About the business:
Too Good To Go is an environmental social enterprise dedicated to reducing food waste. Through our mobile app, users can purchase food from restaurants, cafes, bakeries and other stores that would otherwise be thrown away at the end of the day for massively discounted prices.
As of March 2017, we’re active in six European countries: UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. Together we’ve amassed over one million users and diverted over 400,000 meals from landfill – all in the space of 18 months. It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey, and one that’s well worth sharing!
We began life in Copenhagen in October 2015 as a website. I rather fortunately stumbled across it based on my own website I had created after graduating from an MSc in International Business at the University of Leeds. Instantly knew it was a winner – who doesn’t want good quality restaurant food at cheap prices whilst being able to do something good by reducing food waste? We joined forces and I took the concept back to the UK, where my co-founder got on board and we started the food waste revolution.
We spent the first six months of 2016 knocking on doors and getting shouted out of restaurants, being told our idea would never take off and to stop wasting our time. Initially we planned to launch in London but soon realised how much of a task it would be, so chose to focus on Leeds and Brighton instead. By June 2016 we had a network of 40 partners across the two cities and launched successfully in both, and a month later we had entered the Big Smoke.
Since then the media have caught wind of what we’re up to and we’ve been lucky enough to feature on many national TV programmes (Sky News, BBC News, BBC One Show for example) and media outlets (Guardian, Telegraph etc.). AJ+ also made a video about us which went pretty viral – it was viewed by over 5 million people!
How SPARK has helped:
Every day has been a challenge. There’s barely a moment that passes where we haven’t got a problem to overcome, whether it’s which city to launch in next or how to optimise in-app descriptions and layouts to drive sales. It’s been by far and away the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but the University, courtesy of SPARK, have provided a great support network which includes really fantastic things like free 24-hour office space (came close to sleeping in there a few times) and grants to get you going. We applied for the Proof of Concept and High Growth Funds, and were lucky enough to be awarded with both.
SPARK have also partnered up with some organisations who offer invaluable help when starting up. I had two hour-long consultations completely free of charge with expert legal and accountancy specialists – and both of these made sure we started life as compliant as possible (never underestimate the importance of compliance!).
Those early days seem like a distant memory now, when in fact they were little more than 10 months ago. It’s been fascinating not only to be part of something that’s grown so big, but to be behind the wheel and dictating where it’s going next. Not a day’s gone by without a lesson learned, and there are way too many things to list here that I would have done differently if I could turn back the clock. But that’s the beauty of it; if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn – and if you don’t learn, then well, what do you do!?
My advice to students wanting to start up? Get out there and do it! It’s a big old world, time’s on your side and if you’ve got the passion, drive, energy and ambition to really want to do something then that’s already enough to make more than a start. What are you waiting for?!
Download the Too Good to Go app or find them at: