Meet the founders of Doisy and Dam
1. Hi Ed and Rich, so how did this duo come about?
Hi Nadine! This duo came about during the balmy summer of 1993 when our parents met and we were forced to be friends. We’ve always been terrible at making friends so we just put up with each other. We’ve always had a shared ambition to start a business and we both happened to be foodies so we started to develop our concept.
2. Where we you when you decided to create this platform?
I was in New York working for Jack Wills on their US expansion and Richard was in an office surrounded by 6 computer screens dealing with exchanging ludicrous sums of money.
3. How have you funded the business so far?
We started by using our savings and being very frugal – we did everything ourselves from the branding to the recipes to riding our bikes to every independent store in London. We recently completed a round of funding to allow us to continue to grow at the pace we’d like to.
4. Being a young entrepreneur – what do you enjoy the most about running your own business?
The people we’ve met, the things we’ve learned about business administration and the food industry and the fact that we get to choose the music in the office.
5. What is the best business decision you’ve made so far?
To manufacture our own chocolate. Our goal is to achieve the highest quality product possible, everything else is secondary. By designing our own recipes, sourcing our own cacao and ingredients and making each bar by hand, ourselves, we have managed to achieve what we think is a very high quality product. This also allowed us to scale up in volume according to our sales which gave us the possibility of growth without having to raise a lot of money.
6. What is the worst?
These are such mean questions – we have to show off about good business decisions and then be ridiculed for our bad decisions, have some mercy! The worst decision we’ve made was to go to print with the packaging for one of our SKUs which had the name of one flavour on the front and the other on the side – 5,000 times.
7. Have you both always loved chocolate?
YES. All types. As often as possible. Please.
8. Think back to when you’d just started out – what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
Honestly, nothing. Working our way through difficult situations has been one of the things that has helped lead to our current position. We’ve blundered our way through meetings, blasting through social norms with a very loose understanding of margins/POS/SRP/on-trade and other acronyms we say without still being sure of what they mean. I think our naivety has possibly helped us get where we’ve got now as we’ve asked for, and got, things that now seem ridiculously pushy.
9. How did you get Doisy and Dam into Ocado?
We managed to wriggle our way through the phones at Ocado until we had our buyer’s name. From previous correspondence we worked out the email address structure and sent a cold email asking for 5 minutes of his time and being that lovely guy we now know he is, he gave us a meeting. He liked the product and took a risk and hopefully it’s paid off for him as much as it has for us.
10. As Doisy and Dam is the new yummy choc on the block, what sets it apart from the rest?
Our aim is to make the highest quality products we possibly can. For us that means making absolutely delish products using only the best and as few ingredients as possible. We use superfoods to give our bars a better health profile, reducing sugar and fat content, as well as giving them exotic and interesting textures and flavours. We never use additives, chemicals, emulsifiers or other nasties. There are other companies that makes insanely good choc, but I hope I don’t sound too full of it when I say that I think ours is the best J
11. How was the journey from concept to launch?
Given our financial limitations, we had to make very small runs of packaging and the chocolate and sell to only a few shops in London (mad props to Earth Natural Foods, Oliver’s Whole Foods and The Grocery who gave us our start). We sampled our asses off at these shops and got a really good idea of exactly what our customer was looking for. We were able to use this info to refine our product offering, almost letting the customers design their own chocolate. We ended up having a very smooth concept to launch as a result of this constant iteration and by launching the minimum viable product.
12. What advice would you give to young budding entrepreneurs?
I would suggest spending a good deal of time assessing your own weaknesses, then finding a partner who you trust who can cover those weak areas. For the most part Richard covers our business administration, I cover the brand – it seems to work for us.
The other thing I would recommend is that once you’ve got your concept, rake through your extended network and find relevant people who can and are willing to advise and mentor you. They’ll be able to save you so much time on some mistakes and they’ll also be able to introduce you people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.
13. What plans do you have Doisy and Dam in the future?
We love designing and making products. We love food that tastes delicious without having to add loads of crap to it. We love superfoods. We’re going to combine these three loves and continue to develop new products within our current categories and across others too. And then world domination I guess?