We find ourselves in interesting times. A real spark of entrepreneurial spirit has been lit across the country, leading to a whole range of new and exciting companies popping up across all industries. We've been fortunate to work with many of them (in fact we are one ourselves) and have learned so much from them.
First up in this series is Ellie Sinclair of Veg Cø
So Ellie, In a nutshell tell us what VegCø is all about?
VegCø started completely as an experiment! We generate our own energy from our on site Anaerobic Digester - we generate the energy that powers my indoor greenhouse. Inside the greenhouse we grow a variety of tomatoes, all shapes, colours and sizes! As well as a variety of chillies - anything from peppers to hot hot hot chillies!
From there we have a range of chilli based products - cooking sauces, jams and dried goods. We are currently in the midst of developing our production kitchen, as well as potentially hiring our first couple of employees!
From there, we will have the ability to develop our product range and increase our production capacity too! Allowing us to become more available to our existing customers as well as attracting new ones!
(And allowing me some more time to focus on other aspects of the business!)
How has the journey from idea to fully fledged business gone?
Was it what you expected?
A learning curve.. don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it for the world! But my god be ready to put the graft in! I’m pretty work obsessed so it suits my personality. But if you’re not into working weekends or past 8pm, then… maybe this isn’t for you!?
Was this what I expected..? Yes actually. I’ve grown up in a household where my Dad runs his own company. He has built up an impressive reputation, taking on the family farm business and developing that into a successful farm contracting business, waste haulage company and renewable energy generator.
I’m used to seeing him working all the time - and having only small scopes of his time to see him! (Now I work alongside him… I have very little amounts of my time where I don’t see him! Haha!)
Again.. I wouldn’t change a single bit of it.
What has been the biggest learning curve or the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest learning curve.. having to do this entirely on my own! It’s really hard. Not enough ‘lone’ entrepreneurs say this enough, but it’s sometimes really lonely. You have no one to bounce ideas with and no one to help you out!
I have a close knit family and fantastic friends - and I’ve made some fantastic friendships as a result of having my own business, so in that respect, I’m hugely fortunate.
Because my business is ‘food’ based - I have absolutely no problem in finding ‘quality testers’ of my new products, that’s for sure! My family and friends are always fighting for tasters!
My biggest challenge was how to turn my business from ‘local food business’ to have the potential and appeal to reach a variety of customers, independents and wholesale! I decided I needed to change the look of my company. The story was there, the product was there.. but the ‘look’ wasn’t. I approached FortyTwo and within 2 weeks, we had ideas bouncing, they provided me visuals to get a better picture, and there was endless ideas. I couldn’t have done any of it on my own - and I feel hugely grateful that I found them!
Since the rebrand, the opportunities that have arisen are unbelievable. And more than anything, I am hugely proud of how the rebrand has changed the direction of where my business was heading. I’m hugely thankful.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?
Go with your gut. 100%.
If you’re having problems, or need advice about something, listen, learn and write it all down. Read it over. SLEEP ON IT. (Most important point!) And then make your decision on a fresh head.
Don’t get me wrong, some issues need resolved immediately - but if you’re able to, give yourself time to think. And don’t EVER be scared to ask questions. No question is ever pointless or stupid.
3 pieces of advice for those thinking of starting up?
Make sure you are going into an industry that you are passionate about.
Make sure you hunt down the appropriate help or services that are available for you.
Bring coffee. Lots. (You’ll need it.)