Give me some brief context. How did you meet and why did you decide to set up Spoon together?
Annie and I are (now at least) family. Back when we first chatted about Spoon I was only the sister’s boyfriend! We first met at a family barbeque and Annie had already formulated the concept for Spoon – a fresh breakfast bowl concept. I was fresh back from living in Amsterdam and looking for something new to do so I initially helped her out with some business planning before deciding that it sounded like a lot of fun and so decided to get more involved. I’m very grateful to Annie for having such a good idea and also trusting me enough to get involved.
What has been your biggest challenge as founders since setting up?
There have been business challenges and personal challenges along the way. We have had many of both.
On the business side, once we decided to get involved in the wholesale breakfast cereal market (pivoting away from fresh pots) we soon realised that the budgets and size of the competition we were up against were vast.
And relationships with retailers were highly entrenched, with little incentive for this to change. Competing against huge budgets has been tough with limited financial and human resources but a beautiful brand, delicious product and huge enthusiasm to make a change for the better has got us a long way so far.
On the personal side we have had a few disagreements over the years but we never let it leave the business environment.
All is peaceful over a glass of red wine at a family Sunday lunch!
What’s been the best thing?
Realising that our customers -in our case both the end consumers of our cereals and the retailers that stock our products- support us.
The individual messages that we get from consumers are worth it alone and when a retailer gets in touch to ask to stock our products we feel truly humbled.
It is a great feeling seeing something that you have created form nothing out there on shelves and in cupboards across the country and beyond.
How does your co-founder relationship work? What does each of you bring to the company?
Part of the success of our relationship as co-founders has been that we are so different – in the things that we bring to the company, in how we work and even our ages.
I, Jonny, am 13 years older than Annie. This has meant that we can challenge each other’s work and preconceptions appropriately. And that we have a broader array of things we can deal with within the business.
It works very well (most of the time).
If you were teaching a class on how to create the most productive, enjoyable co-founder relationship what would be your top tips?
J: Respect each other’s opinion
Use your relative strengths appropriately
Don’t forget to enjoy your work (both together and alone).
A: Sounds obvious, but have regular check ins to ensure you are both aligned on your vision for the business!
Keep it professional – especially if you are related or close friends
Know that your co-founder will be your number one sounding board
What would you advise any co-founders starting out, knowing what you know now?
Be sure to keep the faith. There will be times where you question everything. If you know in your gut you are doing the right thing then you will make it work. For you and for your business.
What does the future hold for Spoon and yourselves?
The future for Spoon looks great right now. We have had a successful international launch in Switzerland recently, sales in our current customers are flying and we have just secured a big retailer listing for a new product outside of granola for the first time. That’s happening this summer.
We have a great team and all of the things that create strong momentum are in place. We’re in a good spot and with lots of exciting ideas to come, we’re looking to make a big impact on the breakfast cereals world in the next couple of years.
What partnership do you really admire and why?
J: Clare and David Hieatt have created a couple of amazing businesses in west Wales. They are a couple that have always worked together in their businesses and I love what they do: highly creative, fostering a great community and with wonderful purpose. Everything business should be.
A: My good friends Jess and Charlie who run an amazing travel Instagram account (@the.travel.project) and creative agency. They have carved out an incredible lifestyle business for themselves, which I really admire.
Finally given you have a cereal brand what’s your morning routine? Any top tips for starting the day right?
J: As a dad to a 3-year-old my mornings are my own no longer, though they are very routined. They involve a cup of black coffee and generally some cereal or porridge with fresh fruit before preparing my son for his day at nursery.
On weekends I get the chance to do some exercise first thing and I meet up with a fellow dad for a riverside run, which I enjoy very much. Particularly the coffee afterwards. For me exercise and good food are a must for a truly great start to the day.
A: On a work day, my alarm tends to go off at 6.30am. I am terrible at waking up, so I will rehydrate with a big glass of water and hot lemon water. I’ll normally grab a bite to eat before heading out for a run. My go to is peanut butter on toast and a cup of coffee. On my return from my run, I’ll shower, change and enjoy a bowl of porridge with banana and a granola topper. I’ll then crack on with my work for the day.
On the weekend….Sleep, pastries, coffee, hanging out with my partner, friends and family.
Thank you Annie and Jonny!