Founder Focus: Alex Petrides of allplants
WHAT WAS YOUR EUREKA MOMENT?
My brother and I started eating more (and eventually all) plants as an experiment. Given the health boost and climate implications of plant-based eating we saw – and continue to see – a plant-based future was inevitable. But for us, and for most, it seems pretty dull, alienating and time-consuming. We quickly learned that eating more plants can be absolutely delicious…if you have the time. So, we started cooking, freezing and delivering meals to our friends. We made it ridiculously simple and tasty to eat plant-based a few more days a week and turned it into a positive, convenient choice. The feedback was brilliant, so we set up shop and started delivering our meals nationwide.
WHAT IS YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH?
In a world where your health, and the health of the planet, feels difficult to manage, allplants make it easy and exciting to eat more plants, and less meat, with delicious, plant-based meals straight to your doorstep. For the planet and our own lives and bodies.
A plant-based diet can reduce your food carbon footprint by up to 73% – it’s the single biggest way to be more environmentally friendly. If every family in the UK removed meat from just one meal a week, it would have the same environmental impact as taking 16 million cars off the road. It’s also a great way to lower your cholesterol, know what you’re eating and reduce your risk of heart disease. We make it simple.
HOW DID YOU TEST YOUR IDEA?
Before delivering to our friends, we set up weekly supper clubs at a friend’s café in Stoke Newington. We’d cook two days before each event, freezing the meals and then heating them up before service. When we told people, ‘by the way they were all frozen’ and we have some you can take home, they sold out. That led us to start delivering to friends, before setting up allplants.com, ready for January 2017.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING OF STARTING A BUSINESS OF THEIR OWN?
Be clear about why you’re doing it. Make sure that reason fulfils you and remind yourself of your ‘why’ as much as possible. Stay healthy – figure out your limits and when it’s important to speed up or slow down. Start as small and simple as possible, like you’re putting the first bricks down of what maybe, might, could become a huge home… Build a community right from the off, so that you can listen to their every suggestion and be supported when you need it most.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR OR ARE YOU ONE?
My wife runs her own company, Elizabeth Scarlett, and we learn a lot from each other daily – particularly about balancing our ambitions, passions and ideas with our mental and physical health. I’m also very lucky to be surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, collaborators and investors who guide me daily and encourage me to reach my full potential and give me the space to be experimental. I’m naturally a sponge for learning, so try to pick things up from everyone I meet, observe and listen to: the good, the bad, and – of course – the ugly. I keep a long list of learnings, quotes and observations on my phone to reaffirm the precious gems I’ve picked up.
WHAT’S YOUR PLAN B?
Plan B is a bit of a cop-out – I try to just keep moving and understanding myself and the world in greater depth as I push further and work to live as truthfully as possible. There are so many skills, life lessons and passions that I continue to explore – from music, to yoga, to poetry and community-building – and I hope that never stops. I will always be passionate about the planet and the connection between humans, nature and planetary health. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to influence that, starting with helping everyone to eat more plants.
WHAT IS THE MOST WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT THAT YOU HAVE MADE?
I cut my teeth as employee #1 at Propercorn, now Proper. That provided me with a whirlwind experience, straight out of university, and was foundational in setting me up for allplants.
WHAT ONE FAILURE ARE YOU GLAD YOU EXPERIENCED?
The Cashew Mac was the most popular dish on our menu, and while we’ve given it a delicious revamp with our new Mac & Greens, it almost went wrong. Very early on at allplants – when we were making a handful of dishes per week – we made a smooth and creamy Cashew Mac that tasted sweet and vanilla-y, like pasta dipped in white chocolate. It turned out that we’d accidentally used sweetened almond milk, rather than the unsweetened variety. If you have a sweet tooth – like me – you would have absolutely loved it, but fortunately for everyone with a more savoury palette, we ate the lot and never spoke of it again – until now!
WHAT IS COMING UP FOR ALLPLANTS?
We’ve just opened the UK’s largest plant-based kitchen, and 2020 will see allplants expand into new categories (watching this space… breakfast pots are coming soon!)
This month we are launching our first-ever crowdfunding campaign, which gives people the opportunity to invest in allplants as we help inspire the planet to eat more plants. We’ve been overwhelmed with customers, fans and followers pre-registering a lot more than we’d planned for, and will be going live on February 6th. We’ll also deliver our 1 millionth meal this February, so it will be an exciting month.
WHAT BOOK WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THAT EVERYONE READS AND WHY?
Can I give 3! – there’s a link between them all:
- The Humans by Matt Haig, for a heart-warming, generous and hilarious account of what it means to be human… from the perspective of an alien.
- Ishamel by Daniel Quinn, for a wise Gorilla’s point of view on how humans screwed up our planet.
- Inner Engineering by Sadhguru, for an uplifting breakdown of how to thrive from the perspective of a Yogi with more of an edge and penchant for comedy than most.
HOW DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
I try to stay honest with myself, make sure I’m spending a lot of time in nature, with friends and family, and working in an environment that gets the best out of me (I’m writing this in a café filled with natural light just by the allplants kitchen). I try to keep learning and applying all I learn to how I live.