Meet the founder of Popcorn Shed
To kick things off, tell me a little bit about the founder of Popcorn Shed.
I’m Laura Jane and I’m the Kernel- In-Chief of Popcorn Shed.
I worked as a management consultant for a large worldwide consultancy firm for over 6 years, consulting for a number of FTSE 100 companies. So, nothing to do with the food industry! However, I’m a foodie! Food has always been a central part of my life and family traditions for as long as I can remember…
My passion for sharing my food creations begun at the age of 9, selling homemade slush puppies to neighbours during a hot summer. I also sold fudge at food exhibitions during my time at university. My first job as a graduate “in the real world” was traversing the streets of London and ‘cold calling’ face-to-face in restaurants and cafes selling iced coffee (during what turned out to be one of the hottest summers on record!).
My cousin Sam and I during a trip to the US, discovered gourmet popcorn, and on returning to the UK we realised that great tasting and high-quality popcorn was not easy to source and spotted a gap in the mainstream market. We had always flirted with the idea of running our own family food business together, and in a moment of madness around our 30th birthdays.
Inspiration is always a great indication of why people launch businesses. Who or what inspired you to get started?
During a trip to the US, we discovered gourmet popcorn, and on returning to the UK we realised that great tasting and high quality popcorn was not easy to source, spotting a gap in the mainstream market.
‘We had always flirted with the idea of running our own family food business together, and in a moment of madness around our 30th birthdays, we had a “now or never” moment. We set ourselves a challenge to follow our passion of delicious food and create the best tasting popcorn in the world. Little did we know it would lead us to packing in our city jobs and heading off to the garden shed!”
We dedicated months of recipe testing in the kitchen, experimenting with over 100 different flavours and even blowing up a popcorn machine in the process! We finally hit on a winning formula, and so many requests followed from friends and family that we ended up storing it in the garden shed. Our families started calling it the Popcorn Shed, and that’s how we named our business.’
What would be your number one tip for young entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their own business?
My top tips would be:
Talk to everyone and share your idea. Feedback and advice is very invaluable. There is a tendency for people to feel like they don’t want to share their business idea for fear that someone may steal it. However, unless your idea is so revolutionary and the barrier to entry are very low, it is very unlikely to happen!
Be bold and just do it! What’s the worst that can happen? I always say it’s ok to try and fail but it’s not ok to not try.
Keep on top of your finances. I use cloud accounting software Xero and this is a life saver.
How do you set yourself apart from other businesses in your industry?
Popcorn Shed is a new, premium, young, fun, vibrant and innovative brand with a cheeky personality. We have a delicious and colourful flavour line-up which matches our fun personality. Our range represents affordable indulgence within the category and something very different to the healthy products offered by the likes of the larger players within the category. We are a young, innovative and ambitious team looking to make a noticeable mark on the UK snacks category.
We’re making gourmet popcorn the way it should be: by hand, using all natural ingredients, carefully sourced, lovingly crafted and free of any nasty preservatives or additives. Popcorn Shed’s range is suitable for vegetarians and completely gluten-free.
We believe that outstanding popcorn is hard to mass-produce, so we manufacture it in small batches that are made to order.
Each kernel is air popped to create fluffy popcorn that is then lightly coated with a delicious caramel sauce. We’re all about TEXTURE and uses inclusions such as nuts, fruit and chocolate to create textures which enhance taste, flavour and mouth-feel.
What’s the single most important decision that you made, that contributed to your business?
Choosing a great business partner. Running a business can be stressful at times so you need someone you fully trust and can rely on. Sam and I have completely different skill sets and we complement each other well but we have the same work ethic.
How did you fund the launch of your business and what creative strategies did you use to execute a minimal cash flow?
In order to save money for the enterprise I moved back home to live with my parents and Sam air bnb’ed out his spare room.
What first in the mornings, phone, book, laptop or me time?
Ooo great question! I wish it was me time but it is my phone.
What plans do you have for Popcorn Shed over the coming 12 months?
We have some NEW exciting and delicious flavours and pack formats in the pipeline. WATCH THIS SPACE
Recharging every so often, especially as a parent and entrepreneur is important. How do you recharge when you’re feeling burnt out?
When I have down time and I’m not at work, I try to not think about and not to talk about popcorn and work but that doesn’t always happen!
What habits do you think helped you to become successful?
I try and get up very early and doing some exercise. That way I can clear my head, have some ‘me time’ and hit the day running.
What are your thoughts on failure as an entrepreneur?
It’s ok to try and fail but it’s not ok to not try.