Interview with Bay Burdett
“I would say they need a tonne of resistance and determination and just to network and talk as much as possible about their idea and business. Have the confidence and go for it!.” – Bay Burdett
Today we feature Bay Burdett, the founder at Bay’s Kitchen. We hear their story in their own words, their successes, their challenges and their insights.
Let’s start by getting to know you. Can you please tell us a little bit about you and what you do?
I’m Bay, I have grown up in Cheltenham in the Cotswolds and still live here now. I have always had a keen interest in cooking, travelling, skiing, and interior design.
I studied Creative Advertising at the University of Gloucestershire and graduated with a 2:1 before starting my career as an Account Executive at a marketing agency. I continued my career within marketing, sales, and account management roles both agency and client-side. I am now the Founder & CEO of Bay’s Kitchen.
A great introduction and start to this interview. Can you please tell us, how did you start, from what age, and what made you decide to change direction and start?
I have always wanted to run my own business. My parents bought a business when I was 10 years old and worked extremely hard at it and it’s improved their lives dramatically. I’ve enjoyed being part of it whilst growing up and working there for a few years too, but it made me want to have my own business to develop and run in an industry I am passionate about.
I was diagnosed with IBS in 2015 (at the age of 27), after years of suffering IBS symptoms and was advised to follow a Low FODMAP Diet. The low FODMAP diet requires you to eliminate foods high in FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols – or to put it more simply short-chained carbohydrates and sugar alcohols), which can be naturally found in foods as well as in additives.
I did a lot of research into the diet and the condition and I soon realised there were few convenient, good tasting Low FODMAP foods available in the UK and have found out that nearly 20% of the world population are diagnosed with IBS (and 1 in 3 suffer from IBS type symptoms), I knew I wasn’t the only one looking for the foods which don’t contain hard-to-digest ingredients, such as onion and garlic. And so, the idea for Bay’s Kitchen was born!
Thank you for that insight. So can you tell us…What does your business do and where is your company based?
Bay’s Kitchen. Bay’s Kitchen produces award-winning, Low FODMAP (IBS & Gut-Friendly), Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free foods, many of which are Vegan too! They don’t contain any hard-to-digest ingredients such as garlic, onion or lentils, yet are full of flavour!
We are based in Cheltenham in the Cotswolds
What’s the story behind your success? What led to your aha moment? how did you get to where you are now?
Finding this gap in the market, helping over 13million people in the UK alone, to find foods that don’t trigger symptoms is what has lead to the success of Bay’s Kitchen. Having a product with a clear difference that serves a real need is what has got us to where we are now.
My ‘aha’ moment was when I was cooking my meals from scratch and making things like pasta sauces, without onion and garlic, but which still tasted really good and so I suddenly realised these products could be made and sold to cater for everyone on the Low FODMAP Diet.
My parents helped me a lot at the start of the business, mainly through investment but also helping with their experience of running a business. I also found a mentor about 3 months after launching our first sauces and he helped immensely. He is now an investor and employee within Bay’s Kitchen!
I also received support from my local ‘Growth Hub’ which is linked to the University of Gloucestershire and they have provided lots of help, advice, contacts and useful seminars and workshops for me.
I have been very lucky with the majority of people I have chosen to work with over the years and they have all contributed to the success of the business in one way or another.
Thank you for sharing that. What’s been your life’s biggest lesson so far?
Running any business is a challenge, however, I decided to go into the food industry, which is immensely competitive as well as having a lot of legislation around it to abide by and yet I had no experience working in this industry, let alone starting a new business and launching a new product into it!
Just getting started was a huge challenge, then trying to find a manufacturer to work with, who would take a chance on a start-up with no sales history, do small volumes to get started but at a cost that meant I could launch with a sensible retail price was one of the biggest challenges and it took over 12months to get it right! I learnt a huge amount from this experience – to have perseverance, to gather market research (to prove demand) and put together a business plan to show the manufacturer you are serious and volumes will grow.
I learnt a lot about the food manufacturing process and what was and wasn’t possible. If I were to go through the process again, I would reach out to more new start-ups for advice and contacts. I didn’t network enough in this new industry I was entering, and I have learnt how friendly the food start-up world is, and how everyone is willing to help each other.
It’s through this community I found our first manufacturer, but it was a year after my search when I asked!
A huge amount! I wish I had known how difficult it can be to get retailers to stock your products and just how competitive the industry is! I wish I had also know how much money is required to get a startup off the ground and to become successful!
If you were to go back in time, what piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
My advice would be to network and talk to people as much as possible. I was far too worried about hiding my idea and having NDAs in place as I didn’t want someone to take my idea! It wasn’t until I started talking about it more and networking within the industry that I realised by not talking I had just been holding myself back. People can’t help you if they don’t know what you are doing.
Their advice can help you determine the direction to go in and make a good idea even better! So I wouldn’t shy away, as the majority of people just want to help. You also need an enormous amount of determination and perseverance. Businesses that look like they happen ‘overnight’ generally don’t, they will have had years of hard work go into it before that ‘overnight success’ suddenly happens.
I am very lucky to have very supportive family and friends and I don’t think anyone doubted me. I doubted myself sometimes! To anyone who did doubt me, I would just tell them that they can’t have known how much determination and resisliance I had in me, as I wasn’t going to give up until it worked!
We’re nearly halfway through our interview so it’s a great time to ask how does your business run. What three tools make your business run better?
1. Our website and webshop are a huge part of our business! We use WordPress and WooCommcerce for this and they work well for what we need. They have so many integrations, so we link to Google, Facebook, Xero, our email software, our warehouse software etc so it all works together! I knew about WordPress from my old marketing agency days! We work with a web team who built the site and they help with any updates, major changes and then I do the date-to-date running of it (adding blog posts, managing orders etc).
We wouldn’t really cope without a website!
2. Xero – this is our accounting software. This shows us all our numbers, all our invoices, bills and receipts go on here, our bank accounts link to it to reconcile transactions and we manage our stock through it. It links to our website, so order invoices are automatically posted here. It works really well for our business.
I can’t remember how I heard about it to be honest, but I am so glad I did! I run this and our team use it on a daily basis. It would be a struggle to cope without such sophisticated accounting software, and it would cost me an awful lot more to have a bookkeeper to do all of this work.
3. Klaviyo – this is our email software. It connects to our website and Facebook, so we can get new signups to our email marketing list. It allows us to create branded emails to send customers for marketing messages, but also just for the regular order/shipping emails.
It’s very sophisticated, so you can pull in different recipes into the email base don what the customer has bought! We use this to stay in touch with our customers and it works really well.
I found out about this from another food business who I asked for some advice. Before this, we used MailChimp, which still works well for sending branded emails to customers, but it is nowhere near as sophisticated in terms of sending relevant content to customers.
What do you know now that you wished you had known before?
A huge amount! I wish I had known how difficult it can be to get retailers to stock your products and just how competitive the industry is! I wish I had also known how much money is required to get a startup off the ground and to become successful!
What has been your greatest or proudest achievement or moment?
Our biggest achievement is launching 19 new food products into the market and growing sales over the past 2.5 years.
I have two very proud moments – the first one was walking into Morrisons supermarket on the day of launch and seeing my products on the shelf. This had been my dream for a few years, and it finally happened.
The second one was winning Gold at the Free from food Awards 2019. To win this against products from other start-ups, well-known brands and even supermarket own-label products was incredible!
What future life goals do you want to achieve and why?
I want to be able to run this company to the point I have a slightly larger team and I feel like I can take a step away from some of the day-to-day tasks. I would like it to be a successful global food brand and spend time helping other founders start out in the food industry. I would like to live a comfortable lifestyle, and feel confident I can be paid each month!
To finish our inspire questions…” We believe that sharing inspiring words can inspire others.” If there was one positive thing you would say to someone to inspire and empower them what would it be and why?
I would say they need a tonne of resistance and determination and just to network and talk as much as possible about their idea and business. Have the confidence and go for it!
“Thank you it has been great learning more about your founder story and Bay’s Kitchen”
To learn more about Bay’s Kitchen Visit www.bayskitchen.com
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