Pippa Murray, 27, is the founder of Pip & Nut, an all-natural nut butter brand which she launched in January 2015. Pip has a love of marathon running, and whilst training often turn to natural sources of protein to fuel her (delicious, nutrient dense and full of good fat) – she often found herself eating peanut butter straight from the jar. When she looked a little close at the ingredients, she noticed that most supermarket brands were laden with either palm oil and sugar, while the healthy ones were just a little too healthy looking. Taking matters into her own hands, Pip entered her concept for Pip & Nut into a competition – ‘Escape to the Shed’, run by Escape the City. The company’s mission is to help talented individuals leave their corporate days jobs. After pipping 3,000 entrants to the post, she left her day job as a Producer at the Science Museum and spent three months living, working and launching her business from a shed in Central London. So Pip & Nut was born – a healthy food brand making nut butters with a fun edge that delivers a nutritionally uncompromising product – all products are 100% natural with no refined sugars, additives or palm oil.
What inspired you to start a business?
It was a mix of things really. I’m a marathon runner, and I’ve always looked to food to fuel my training and, like a lot of runners, natural energy was something I preferred. This meant that peanut butter, that’s high in protein, was a product that was a regular part of my diet.
However it never really sat well with me that most supermarket peanut butters always contained palm oils and sugars so Pip & Nut evolved out of this dissatisfaction to remove the nasty things from this product and produce one that’s 100% natural and far superior. We take this even further by being a brand that believes that health(y) food should never feel like a sacrifice so we bring an element of fun and creativity to our products, both through the unique flavours we have in our range, like our Coconut Almond Butter, and our playful branding that’s intended to make the product more accessible.
How did you get involved in ‘Escape to the Shed’ and tell us about your experiences living, working and launching a business from a shed?
Escape the City are a company whose aim is to help people leave their unfulfilling jobs and either launch a business or work for one that’s more rewarding. As a start-up themselves they were sympathetic to the fact that when starting a business often one of the biggest challenges is financing your lifestyle while not necessarily having a steady income. To help they ran ‘Escape to the Shed’ a competition where you could win three months rent free to launch your company. The catch; the accommodation was a shed in their back garden.
I came across the ad for the competition and applied on a whim, not expecting to win, and one month later I get a call from the co-founder saying that I’d won! An hour later I quit my job!
Once the initial elation of being able to leave my job and commit myself to bringing Pip & Nut to market, the reality of living in a shed dawned on me. Going from a stable job and renting a nice flat in North London to a shed in a back garden with no income was a truly scary prospect. Howver the experience turned out to a great one. The team at Escape at a lot of fun and incredibly supportive bunch, so great to be around if you’re putting yourself out their and launching a business, and the shed itself was remarkably comfortable – there was proper furniture, electricity, and access to their house at all times!
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?
I personally think you should be punchy with your goals, mainly because if you think big you’ll be surprised how much you can achieve. Having said that it is important to ground any goal in reality and carefully model what you want to achieve to avoid unnecessary disappointments if you don’t hit those targets.
One way we do this at Pip & Nut is to produce a one page business plan which lays out everything we want to do within the year. This details top line financial targets and mission, underneath that sits 4-5 company goals and beneath each goal a list of targets that we set ourselves that will enable us to achieve each goal and thus our target and mission. Laying it out in this way means you have a very clear set of goals that’s measurable as well as breaks down the task in smaller more manageable chunks.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
Rather boring, but fundamentally essential, cash flow management is probably my biggest headache. We’re a fast growing brand, having achieved listings with over 1200 stores in the UK within our first year, including major retailers like Sainsbury’s, Ocado and M&S. This means I have to juggle payment terms with supermarkets and suppliers in order to keep the flow of cash healthy and enable us to continue to expand. Whilst this is always a challenge, no matter what size of business you have, I’ve managed to tackle this in a number of ways from loans, support from our bank, and getting favourable terms with suppliers and customers.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m excited for what 2016 will bring. Right now we’re planning to expand into more supermarkets within the UK and grow our existing accounts. As well as this we’ll be launching new flavours into the range and exploring new product development in another category.